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Uplink – A retro look

Available via Steam £6.99, GOG £4.19 and on the Apple Store for iPad £6.99 and via Google Play for Android £3.17

Synopsis (from Steam):

“You play an Uplink Agent who makes a living by performing jobs for major corporations. Your tasks involve hacking into rival computer systems, stealing research data, sabotaging other companies, laundering money, erasing evidence, or framing innocent people.”

Uplink Logo

So the first thing I notice after loading Uplink for the first time in probably 10 or so years is just how small the font is. The font has not gotten any smaller, my eyes are probably only slightly worse than they were 10 years ago so we can’t put the failure down to eyesight or too many extracurricular activities. Nope, since it’s initial release in 2001 screen sizes and resolutions have improved a great deal and so Uplink now has a very small font. Reducing my screen size in the game to 800×600 makes it a bit easier to see so I fired up the game, created myself an account settled down through the tutorial once more.

You’re given a choice of where you want to start, the place where your gateway will be, to form the base your operations. During the tutorial, you are guided through the user interface and given advice on how to bounce your connection through other gateways to make you harder to trace. The really interesting thing about Uplink is that from the beginning there is a sense of urgency to the tasks you perm. You are guided through buying some tools and adding one particular tool for your arsenal called the “Trace Tracker”. One installed the tracker sits in the corner of your display and begins to beep whenever a trace is started against you. As the tracer gets closer the distance between one beep and the next gets shorter and immediately you begin to feel a sense of urgency. If the trace is successful your gateway could be taken away from you which will cost you a great deal to replace.

The money that you earn from jobs goes back into buying more software, my first choice was a “Log Deleter”. Something to remove my illegal activities from the server and ensure that my profile stays a bit more below the radar. I then take on a few of the jobs available to me which basically consist of:

  • Make a path to the target and connect
  • Crack the password
  • Locate the thing you are supposed to do something with (e.g. a file)
  • Perform the task (e.g delete or copy the file)
  • Optionally remove any trace of you performing the task
  • Reply to the contact e-mail to inform your employers that you have been successful

These are nice little jobs to help you get more up to speed with the interface and build up awareness of how much time you do or do not have to be traced. Now this is where I decide to not to spoil what happens next, Uplink is one of those games that you really need to just experience. Once you have done a few missions you feel the need to upgrade and push forward. The missions get more challenging and you begin to put your own gateway more at risk depending on how much you clean up after yourself. The game has a fully working stock market which (if you choose) you can hack into and influence and since you choose how you want to hack there is some replay value to be had. I will warn you that you can put some serious hours into this game and although the interface looks simple and a little dated you really don’t need much more than it offers.

Considering it was the first major release from British developers Introversion Software you can put a surprising number of hours into the game. It may have a very simplistic look and feel but that’s really all it needs. Take my advice and check out the rest of their catalog. Darwina is still to this day one of my favourite games, just don’t mention the XBOX version to them. Then you have Darwinia’ multi-player cousin Multiwinia which if you liked the single player game is well worth checking out if you can find people to play against. DEFCON is pretty much a WarGames simulator with its’ gruesome tagline of “Everybody dies” and now with it’s two BAFTA nominations Prison Architect.

Our look into pure hacking games continues in two weeks time with a look at Hacker Evolution Duality, in the meantime why not tell us what you think of Uplink? Tell us of your nefarious tales, or share with us how you feel about any Introversion title. I personally would be very interested in find other people I might be able to play Multiwinia with. You can get in touch with us using the comments section, Facebook page, Twitter or Reddit

Love and rockets

– Chris

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