Upon hearing the phrase 'Mass Effect hacking', the savvy gamer will automatically start to wonder: does it mean the hacking minigames or hacking as it relates to the Mass Effect 2 Illium Liara system?

Or do they mean hacking the game to gain an unfair advantage over other players? It happens more often than you might believe but, obviously, statistics are vague. Cheating, by its secretive nature, is hard to measure but, if the number of game hacking apps available is anything to go by, it must be very prevalent indeed.

Mass Effect's hacking features make it unusual among video games. Again, while all video games are hackable, at least in theory, few encourage players to hack or incentivise them to do so with level-up initiatives. And, while players of other games would certainly be called out or maybe even shunned for cheating throughout the gaming community, those who've successfully hacked their way through Mass Effect are lauded.

Or maybe laughed at. Not every player enjoys the hacking minigames. Still, you have to know something about it if you're not keen to take the long route to level up.

Mini-Game Hacking

The most important to note is that when a mini-game is afoot, the rest of the game stands still. There will be no accumulation of damage from any Hazards and all other characters are held in suspended animation. The next big question is: how do players initiate mini-games?

Interacting with a lock cues the mini-game. And that's where the generalities end.

Depending on which version you're playing - PC or console, or I, II, or another edition, the mini-games will be different, and there are too many variations to go through them all and still have room to talk about everything else on the subject.

Hacking Mass Effect is a lot like playing Simon Says
X-Box and PlayStation gamers may feel like they've returned to Simon Says games when hacking Mass Effect. Photo by Florian Gagnepain on Unsplash

Mass Effect Hacking

A sufficiently-levelled party member - Electronics or Decryption (or both) can bypass a locked door or terminal, crate or mineral. Such a party member would be either a Shephard or squad-mate.

If you're playing on an X-Box or PlayStation, you'll probably feel like you're playing Simon Says. No worries, though, the ordeal only involves pressing your controller buttons in the sequence shown on-screen. Doing it quickly enough is paramount; if you let a selection time out, you will fail.

Failure also comes when you push the controller buttons out of sequence.

Mass Effect II Hacking

In this edition of the game, Shepard can bypass and hack regardless of chosen squad-mates. And, as there are many aspects and areas of this game hidden behind such challenges, it's good to know that overcoming them isn't dependent on characters' levels.

One important distinction between the original and this version is that the rest of the game doesn't freeze as you work your way through the bypass or hack. Damages will be damages and, should they accumulate substantially, your attempts to progress will fail.

Also, as you progress through this step, you'll note a number under the Time Remaining indicator. Whichever that number is represents the number of credits you'll receive for your efforts. If that number is zero... well, you probably don't need to be told what that means, do you?

Mass Effect III Hacking

In this version of the game, things have been made much simpler. As Shepard has had the power to hack since Game II, the game designers intuited that it would be too aggravating for him to have to mess around with locks, blocks and other objects. Thus, you/he may engage in other tasks while the loading animation glows on towards access.

Just take care to not move too far away from the holograph, unless you want to cancel the operation.

The Omni-tool needs to interact with whatever you're trying to unlock to initiate the hack. Again, this version streamlines the action by standardising all of these challenges; you'll typically only encounter doors.

Keep in mind that Mass Effect hacking does little to answer your "What is hacking?" question. This game's use of that word is worlds apart from real-world hacking, wherein coders/programmers - altruistic or malicious, access computer networks and wreak havoc.

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Game Hacking Tools and Apps

Earlier, we mentioned that gamers sometimes hack their games to gain an unfair advantage over other players. We also mentioned that there are tools to do so. Now, we talk about selected apps that can help advance your gaming.

Before we go on, a word of caution: you have to be careful which tools you download. Some apps deliver the goods they advertise while 'forgetting' to disclose that the install has given them access to your device, which they can exploit to their benefit.

With that being said, let's present three of the best, most trustworthy hacking tools to get you better at your games, fast.

Don't download hacking tools to a Switch, Nintendo monitors such things
Beware of any Switch download that allows cheating or piracy; Nintendo has safeguards in place! Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Xmodgames is far and away from the top-rated app for rooted Android devices. It's user-friendly, providing a screen overlay as you play. Its main selling point, though, is regular updates. If you ever wondered whether an app is legit, support is one sure sign that you're onto something good.

If you want to customise your games, Cheat Engine is the app for you. It's stood the test of time; a testament to its trustworthiness. And you can do so much with it: add new characters and weapons, build new walls and so much more. The Android version is not as extensively designed as the PC edition is but you'd be hard-pressed to find a better 'cheat' app for your mobile.

Lucky Patcher is a must-have app for everyone, not just gamers. Whether you're a root/non-root user, Lucky has plenty to offer from blocking adverts to modifying game memory. Not only is Patcher incredibly versatile but it, too, is routinely updated.

Between its reputation, longevity and support, Lucky Patcher is the must-have app for any serious gamer.

Just keep in mind that not paying for games and cheating are both unfair and illegal.

Games that Teach Coding

With that thought in mind, how about moving away from hacking games to learning coding and hacking skills?

There are plenty of games for kids to learn coding - Code Monster, CodeMonkey and CodinGame among them. Out of the hordes of 'learn coding' games youngsters enjoy, these three teach how to code in various languages, Python, C++ and Java among them. There are plenty of others that stick with just one language, but they are so superbly programmed that you might give any of them a go, as well.

What about adults who want to learn how to code while engaged in their favourite pastime? Here, too, the gaming community is well served.

  • Elevator Saga requires you to program a cluster of elevators to transport ever-increasing loads of passengers. Great for learning JavaScript.
  • Duskers (shell scripting): you're a marooned astronaut who must send drones to other abandoned spacecraft to scavenge needed supplies. Each drone has its own capabilities and each ship to scavenge has its own monsters, all of which make for furious command-line typing.
  • Flexbox Defense: a tower defence game that will hone your CSS skills.
  • Untrusted: this game requires you to know some JavaScript because you will edit the game's script in real-time to protect Dr Eval from a dark reality.

Nothing says that adults shouldn't play kids' coding games, of course. However, if you're looking for a deeper dive and have had enough of Frozen - and Minecraft leaves you cold, these more evolved plots might keep you engaged in playing and learning.

Go beyond Minecraft to learn coding.
If you've long since moved beyond Minecraft, playing more advanced games might stimulate your learning. Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Game Hacking and General Hacking

If you're a gamer interested in hacking any Mass Effect edition, you know why hacking is essential. However, outside of the gaming community, people wonder why hackers hack. If indeed, you are a Mass Effect gamer who has run the gamut of that franchise's bypasses, you understand why people with coding skills hack: to gain access to something.

That is where the similarity between real-world hacking - including game hacking, and Mass Effect hacking ends. Unless you consider the ability and power gains that each camp lays claim to.

Mass Effect requires 'hacking' but it is not hacking in the truest sense, where one must know at least one programming language. What is termed hacking is merely another game process; something that must be done to continue playing.

By contrast, hacking as a profession is lucrative and those with such skills are in high demand - especially as the number and severity of cyberattacks are growing year on year. Believe it or not, there are actually certified hackers that perform vital functions to protect and maintain critical network infrastructure and computer systems.

We're not saying anything bad about gaming. Playing games - coding games or Call of Duty also teaches vital skills and builds community. However, despite the worlds that gamers immerse themselves in, the act of gaming is limited to little more than pushing buttons and activating joysticks.

Why not consider putting your gamer's intuition and skill to work, instead? You could earn big paydays as an ethical hacker or join a cause you believe is worth fighting for and become a hacktivist.

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