||This is a short primer on all things hacking. If computers are a big part of your d20 Modern campaign, you may have found the information in the core rules somewhat lacking. This book attempts to go beyond the Computer Use skill and make hacking a bigger and more detailed part of the game.
In the core rules, the Computer Use skill is already fairly thorough. Hack the Matrix builds on this existing framework, adding even more detail and giving the GM the ability to differentiate between more or less protected computer networks. Each system is given specific stats that cover the number of access points, the amount of space available for additional programs and firewalls, and the DC of accessing data and remaining undetected.
Hackers have their systems too, called terminals. A terminal has its own stats, which make some faster and more successful at gaining access to systems. Both terminals and systems can be enhanced by additional components. Things like removable hard drives and triad processors make computers better and more versitale tools for hacking or repelling hackers. These components all have appropriate purchase DCs and, in some cases, restrictions on their aquisition.
Once a character successfully hacks into a system, there are a number of actions that he or she can take. Each of these actions is described, along with relevant DCs and the amount of time needed to perform them. To counter this, each system is given a list of protective programs that can attack and inflict damage on the character's connection, or icon. Hacking then, is both a battle against time and against the protective countermeasures of the target system.
Finally, there are a number of feats that improve a hacker's or system administrator's abilities. Feats such as Computer Programming are likely useful additions to any d20 Modern campaign, while other feats are keyed directly to the new rules presented in this book.
LIKED: The new rules expand nicely on the base presented in the d20 Modern ruleset. This book makes hacking less abstract and puts more emphasis on the tools and components of the characters in question. It adds random amounts of time to actions that are normally glossed over. The end result is more involved than the standard rules, yet not so bogged down as to become the whole focus of the game.
DISLIKED: Hack the Matrix is difficult to absorb. There are a number of typos and wording errors that just make the text seem clunky. In addition, the layout and design makes the rules somewhat hard to follow. It took me a few complete readthroughs to really grasp the system. The end result is pretty good, but the book could stand a bit of a rewrite to make things more clear and concise.
[3 of 5 Stars!]