The Hacker is a stealth/action game published by entertainment giant Holographic Arts. Set on Rannoch during the Geth War, the player takes the role of a salarian Special Tasks Group operative, visiting the world by chance, who becomes involved in the effort to defend the quarian refugees during the desperate evacuation efforts.
Gameplay is a mix of covert military action, with the protagonist undertaking ambush and sabotage missions either solo or in company with quarian militias and surviving military units, and hacking - represented by reaction- and puzzle-based minigames - as the protagonist attempts to disrupt geth networks and extract data from them, destabilising geth attacks and providing strategic advantages. Although some critics felt the decision to introduce an STG protagonist was a missed opportunity to showcase the heroism of quarian resistance leaders during the evacuation, and that in some areas the depiction of real-world events was deliberately inaccurate (in the most favourable ending, the resistance group aided by the protagonist fights the geth to a standstill, with portions of Rannoch still under quarian control), the majority of reviews were positive, praising the fast-moving gameplay, compelling storyline, and (regardless of acknowledged inaccuracies in events) the meticulous recreation of Rannoch's cities and natural environment.
Capitalising on the success of the original, a sequel was released one year later. Rather than continue the storyline of the original, the sequel adopted a larger-scale approach to the war, allowing individual action but emphasising squad-based tactics and manoeuvres. Intense controversy was roused when it was revealed that the sequel would allow players to take either side of the conflict; commentators likened the geth side of the game, in which victory conditions included destroying spaceports and disabling civilian refugee vessels, to a "genocide simulator". Holographic Arts issued statements insisting that the two-sided gameplay was purely a means for players to engage in head-to-head gameplay with one another, but publicity for the game was scaled back dramatically. When it was released, virtually unannounced beyond routine press statements, most reviews nonetheless repeated the controversial concerns, and added that the felt the game was rushed, featuring less freedom of action and more repetetive environments than the original.
Reaction to The Hacker's sequel was reported in the Cerberus Daily News update "Sequel to hit game The Hacker incites controversy".
- The CDN story regarding The Hacker was drawn from similar real-world controversies about games allowing players to take the "enemy" role of terrorists. The Hacker itself was inspired by Electronic Arts' and Pandemic Studios' (sequelless) game The Saboteur, about an Irish race car driver assisting the French resistance in WWII-era Paris.