Top 10 Video Games With Hacking Gameplay

Published 6 months ago by , Updated May 29th, 2014 at 2:41 pm, This is a list post.

Watch Dogs Hacking Video Games As the digital age continues to grow and evolve each year, the real world seems to inch closer and closer to that of Watch Dogs: one in which privacy is a thing of the past to anyone with a computer - provided they know how to use it. Although the average gamer may not actually have a firm grip on the nature of computer hacking, they've certainly encountered some in video game form. Not every game challenging players to hack their way into, out of, or around obstacles and computer systems have modeled their designs off the real thing, but as our list of the most enjoyable hacking mini-games shows, that's not always a bad thing. Here is our list of the Top 10 Hacking in Video Games.

E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy

EYE Divine Cybermancy Best Hacking Games There's a good chance that even the sci-fi and cyberpunk-minded gamers of the world may have missed out on E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy. The indie game dropped players into a dystopic view of the future, in which humanity stands at war with threats both human and alien, and an order of psionic monks hold power far greater than mere weapons. The story is admittedly far-fetched, but the actual hacking that players were tasked with completing did an interesting job of capturing the thrill of hacking a real computer system. Uploading viruses and evading counter-attacks as a form of futuristic cyber-soldier is the stuff of Hollywood sci-fi, but was much more fun to play than the overlooked Divine Cybermancy gets credit for.

BioShock

BioShock Best Hacking Video Games The developers at Irrational Games have something of a history when it comes to computer hacking, but decided to keep the mechanic even when they swapped spacecraft for underwater 1950s architecture - albeit with some changes. While players made their way through the ruins of BioShock's Rapture, the opportunity to hack and control turrets, locks, vending machines and even enemy bots arose at every turn. Hardcore techies may scoff at the idea of funneling liquid through a series of pipes being called 'hacking,' but you can't argue with the results. Plenty of games offer hacking mini-games that bear little to no semblance to actual hacking and are downright boring. BioShock's may be far from a simulation, but remained more addictive and engaging than its simple design might imply.

Enter the Matrix

Enter The Matrix Best Hacking Games The Matrix film franchise earned serious respect among the hacking crowd when it first hit theaters, not only for making hackers seem like fully-fledged action heroes, but because characters in the film actually implemented real hacking routines and methods in their fight against the Machines. We would like to say that the series' best game, Enter The Matrix followed a similar path in teaching players real world hacking, but that isn't the case. However, what players did get was a computer interface pulled right out of the film universe, and placed its password breaking mechanics into the context of an actual computer system. Breaking passwords may have been a case of simple trial and error (along with other games on our list), but if a casual observer perceives the game's hacking as an actual intrusion, the developers deserve some credit.

Shadowrun

Best Hacking Games Shadowrun The Shadowrun franchise may have begun its life as a pen-and-paper RPG, but its translation to video game consoles was more successful than plenty others. Telling the story of a future Seattle (the year 2050, to be exact) in which "shadowrunners" operate as hired guns capable of cracking computer systems (among other tasks), SNES got a chance to experience hacking as an old school, top-down dungeon crawler. Any interest in simulating was cast off in the name of fun, with hacking portrayed as hero Jake Armitage's digital form maneuvering through computer systems to avoid or combat security programs (enemies). The game's port to the Sega Genesis took that combat into a third-person perspective, but as a whole, the franchise made its name by injecting players into a digital world long before The Matrix made it 'cool.'

Uplink

Uplink Best Hacking Video Games It isn't hard to understand why several video games take artistic liberties with the art of computer hacking, since the average gamer or movie fan is likely to be less captivated by watching a hacker actually type out commands, run programs, and pick their way through a company's data files remotely. But the makers of Uplink decided to test the theory. While Uplink may still seek to recreate the thrill of cinematic hacking as opposed to the real thing, the gameplay is far closer to a real world simulation than most - especially since players are confined to their computer terminal from start to finish. Whether players wish to engage in a global techno-war for the future of the Internet or simply hack for hire, the game is packed with references to big screen hacking, becoming one bog homage to Hollywood's fascination with the actual keystrokes and programming that can bring corporations to their knees.

System Shock 2

System Shock 2 Best Hacking Games It's hard to find a more divisive instance of video game hacking than the one adopted in System Shock 2, with some calling it a mindless and frustrating tacked-on mechanic, as others credit it with experimenting. Since the original System Shock featured a hacking experience that placed players into a first-person flight/exploration/combat system, Irrational Games clearly saw room for improvement - whether they achieved in the mind of every gamer or not. The hacking itself was simple enough: light up three square nodes in a straight line, and the hack is complete. Players would need to upgrade their abilities to make failed hacks less likely, but add in the fact that the system required costly resources be spent with each attempt, and that it took place in real-time embedded within the player's HUD, and it does more right than wrong. Even if we appreciate the mode despite our frustrations.

Sly Cooper

Sly Cooper Bentley Best Hacking Games Although Sly Cooper may be the star of his series, every fan knows that it's Sly's friend and ally Bentley who is the real brains of the operation. Although the raccoon may be a master thief, he's downright lacking when it comes to hacking. Plenty of game developers make the decision to use a hacking mini-game to give players a rest from the game's other action, favoring a slower puzzle requiring patience and concentration to proceed. Sly Cooper does things differently. The hacking of the series is nothing short of a power fantasy for the turtle, adopting gameplay akin to Geometry Wars as Bentley's digital projection blasts apart enemy programs and obstacles to acquire data. As the series has progressed, so has the hacking, but it never loses sight of the fact that it is the one time for Bentley to shine, and use his quick thinking and lethality as well as his intellect to help the Cooper Gang to victory.

Fallout 3

Fallout 3 Best Video Game Hacking It may not be the most complicated, challenging, or groundbreaking approach to hacking on our list, but it's hard not to love Fallout 3's method of locking away valuables and resources. In keeping with the rest of the game's retro-futuristic style, Bethesda managed to infuse their hacking mini-game with the same worn out, vintage feeling that permeates the rest of their post-apocalyptic America. Upon loading up a computer terminal, players are presented with two columns of jumbled symbols and letters, with the password located somewhere in the mess. Each guess returns results describing how many of the letters are correct, while costing the player one attempt at a successful hack. It's as simple a system as it gets, but was shockingly engaging in the actual game, and the aged computer monitor, text, and sound design all made it fit within the game's larger fiction.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex Human Revolution Best Hacking Game Rebooting classic game franchises is always a risky endeavor, but Eidos Montreal found a surprising amount of success with Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The game's continued emphasis on player customization and choice spread from the story into the systems crafted to show protagonist Adam Jensen's hacking prowess (itself an upgradable ability). Rather than choosing to either battle security programming or engage in a simple mini-game, the developers went with both. One of the more strategic hacking games we've come across in recent years, players are again tasked with hacking a set of nodes. Hacking can either be done in a brute force attack - across multiple nodes at once - or by picking the path least likely to attract attention. The system was surprisingly nuanced, and improved through upgrading tech abilities, but managing to bring the 'stealth vs. violence' mechanics of the game into hacking was more than appreciated.

Quadrilateral Cowboy

Quadrilateral Cowboy Best Hacking Video Games Using color-matching or word search puzzles to simulate hacking may be good enough for triple-A studios, but indie developer Blendo Games created the still-unreleased Quadrilateral Cowboy to not only counter that practice, but show that gamers actually would be interested in some low-level programming. As usual, players step into the role of a computer hacker tasked with aiding a heist from a remote computer terminal. The bulk of the game consists of tackling each secure facility like one large puzzle, solving it through the use of actual computer programming. Opening doors in sequence, inputting delays, and even testing out entire command strings has already won over fans at public events. The game may be inspired by 1980s programming, but Quadrilateral Cowboy proves that hacking doesn't need to be abstracted for modern players to enjoy themselves.

Conclusion

Watch Dogs Best Hacking Minigames Those are just a handful of cases where video game developers sought to re-imagine hacking, but everyone is sure to have their favorites. Which ones stick out in your mind as the most enjoyable, whether they resembled the real thing or not? Which were the worst? Be sure to offer up your own selections (or arguments) in the comments below. _____ Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
TAGS: Bioshock, Deus Ex Human Revolution, Fallout 3, Sly Cooper, Watch Dogs

4 Comments

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  1. Loved DX:HR and really got into the hacking as the game went on. It was genuinely tense.

    • Tense indeed! I remember hacking a machine in the police station and having to literally race to complete it before everyone nearby became too suspicious. Lots of pressure there.

  2. Does the Saints Row 3 Tron/computer mission count as hacking? Because hacking as a digital toilet and blow-up doll avatar HAS to earn that game some points.

    • Saints Row 3 gets all the points in my book.

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