The year is 2010, and computers have advanced to well beyond what we can possibly comprehend. You are a computer hacker, an agent for Uplink Corporation. Your mission, to hack into computer systems and complete a task, whether it is breaking into a company server to steal sensitive data or to remove logs of a secure transaction. Every task is different, and requires a new approach and solution. There are no second chances in this business, as your first mistake could also be your last. Welcome to the Uplink Corporation.
Developed and published by the UK based independent software firm Introversion, Uplink is a dynamic strategy title based around a controversial issue, computer hacking. Computer hacking is a worldwide problem, whether it is simply "script kiddies" causing trouble or notorious super hackers accessing highly confidential information. Uplink places you in the hot seat, in the chair of an unknown hacker. With a variety of tools at your disposal, you will ether become world renowned for you incredible hacking abilities or rot away in a prison cell for the rest of your life.
Real-world computer hacking is a very complex and precise process. Introversion has successfully taken one of the most challenging aspects of computers and combined it into a software product understandable by even the most basic user. The game is only semi-realistic however, as most real hackers develop and deploy their own tools. In Uplink, the key to success is using the right tool at the right time, yet this is not nearly as simple as it sounds. Uplink features a wide variety of tools for use, these including password breakers, security tools, and many other useful applications. As you advance and become known as a trustworthy employee, you will easily make enough money to purchase better hardware, which will assist in cracking passwords and avoiding detection. You are in one of the riskiest businesses in the world; never forget that or you may just get caught.
Upon starting the game, players will be asked to create a profile as an Agent for Uplink Corporation. Completing the tutorial missions is the next step towards understanding the basic concepts, as they outline the best methods of navigating the interface and accessing computer systems. Basic security precautions and techniques are also taught, an example being the ability to "relay" a connection. Let me stress that this game does not actually logon to the Internet, yet simulates the experience. On several occasions, I found myself looking to see if I was actually online as the experience felt real. The Uplink Internal Services Server is the primary source of information for players, as it offers software and hardware upgrades, as well as a directory listing of available jobs for agents of any experience level. Using this "mission list" feature within the Internal Services Menu, agents can seek out new job opportunities and apply to complete a task. Whether its changing someone's academic information or deleting a confidential file, each mission carries a risk, and it is up to you whether that risk is worth accepting the task at hand. Completing the job is the most entertaining part, as you must first bypass all security protection and avoid being detected. As your presence becomes known and the tracker slowly traces your location, stress levels begin to rise and this adrenaline rush is what keeps the game interesting. As you advance to higher levels, the assignments become progressively harder and require a much deeper thought process before attempting the mission, as it only takes one mistake for your career to take a tragic turn.
Uplink is a very addicting title to say the least, as objectives remain in the back of you mind even when you're not playing. Missions that initially appear simple are often very complex, and players must always be aware of the time remaining before a trace pinpoints your location. The gameplay is very unique, and that "Disconnect" button is always available should you need a quick escape. If you are looking for a challenge, then Uplink is an excellent selection, as you will always face new obstacles in which to overcome.
One disappointing aspect of Uplink is the visuals. Although a title of this type does not require superb graphics, they still play an intricate part in the game as a whole. The visuals in Uplink are very dark in general, and somewhat dull as they lack in color. This sets an "eerie" atmosphere, but it quickly becomes somewhat boring to look at hour after hour. A solid attempt by Introversion, but a more colorful environment would enhance the game.
Sound is an important aspect in strategy games of this type, but unfortunately, this is another area where Uplink is lacking. The background theme is very suitable for its purpose, but becomes very repetitive after hours of play. A limited number of sound effects are present as well, something that could be improved upon.
Overall, Uplink is an addicting strategy title with the potential to be improved. A wider variety of sound effects as well as a more colorful interface would be beneficial. Fortunately, the superb gameplay easily makes up for the flaws in these areas, and the replay value of the title speaks for itself. Just a side note for anyone interested in purchasing Uplink, it is only available from the Introversion website and not available in retail outlets. For $25 US including shipping, Uplink is an excellent addition to any gamer's collection.