Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
The Good: Simple easy to use layout, you really feel like your hacking, lots of upgrades and missions to use and partake in
The Bad: Bland visuals and almost no audio, very repetitive after you get to the higher levels, you can get lost and there's little help
Hacker is a strategy game that simulates being well...a hacker. You have a simple menu layout that shows your computer upgrades, whats in your memory, your finances and all that stuff. The main purpose of hacker is taking missions from the mission list, figuring out the best way to do the mission, then reporting back. You can log into your Uplink Network to upgrade your software, hardware, and gateway (more on that later). The way the game works is simple really; the main thing to watch out for is being traced so you buy a trace detector and, depending on the upgrade, it'll tell you how much time you have before being traced. You hack into a server by using a password cracker and waiting for the password to be hacked. Once you get in you have to actually "do the mission" and this can range from just copying a file, deleting a file, or more advanced things like changing an academic record, getting financial information about someone etc.
The simpler tasks are easy you just open your copier or deleter tool and once you find the file you click on it and it either deletes or copies. Copying files have to added to your memory bank and certain files are certain sizes. Make sure you buy a defrager to squish all your files together for more room. Doing these tasks take CPU power so allocate the most important tasks to use more CPU power or just upgrade your CPU. All of this costs credit that you earn from doing these jobs. Some more advanced missions may need a proxy or firewall bypass before you can edit records. Either buy a cheap proxy bypass program that automatically starts the tracing process or get a HUD program that lets you execute more advanced programs for more advanced tasks. Editing records are easy; all you do is type in what the missions log says and your done. Make sure you delete your log files (if you have time) so you're not detectable and get caught later on in the game. If a big corporation finds you and reports you Uplink will kill your Gateway and it's game over.
Some of the most advanced tasks involve voice decoders that make you talk in a mic, and other decoders so get into the banks (the most high security servers). Upgrading your computer lets you store more items, makes tasks go faster, and lets you use more advanced hardware. Once you get the best hardware the hardest task becomes a breeze. While there are a lot of missions the game gets old really fast and after the first 3-4 hours you'll start to get bored whether or not you ever get to the higher levels. Bouncing your connection around the map is the key to slowing the trace, but sometimes this isn't even good enough.
There are a lot of great ideas in this game, but there just aren't enough to keep you interested for long periods of time. A lot of times you'll get lost on to what to do since the tutorial only covers the simple stuff like copying and deleting and doesn't say anything about proxy and firewall bypassing. Most of this stuff you have to discover through trial and error and this can cost you the whole game when you first start out. The game is also very bland both audio and visually. The game is just a black screen with a bunch of pop up windows and simple text that you read. The audio is very plain with almost 16 bit music and no sound effects. The music is elevator music style techno and all it does is keep you from falling asleep. So, with just simple clicks and typing and figuring about the best way to solve missions the game is fairly interesting for such a simple concept. I really hope there is a full blown sequel in brew and I hope it becomes more advanced than it is now. I feel the sequel could get major sales if it was done right, so all puzzle and strategy fans should check this one out but if you're looking for visual flare...look elsewhere.