Uplink, made by Introversion Software in 2001, is a game in which you hack into other computers and terminals. The graphics are minimalistic and styled like terminals, as the Internet has been ruined and a new Internet has been created, one dominated by hackers, banks and companies called Uplink, ARC and Andromeda. Uplink is the company you work for; at the start of the game they supply you with a Gateway and some money. The Gateway is what you use for hacking and the money allows you to buy software to do more complicated missions and reduce your chance of being caught (since what you’re doing is illegal). It also lets you upgrade your Gateway to store more software, work faster and include security such as bombs. If you get caught, you lose the game.
The game is relatively fast paced with a limited time after beginning each hack before you are actively tracked and arrested. After finishing the hack, you then alert your client and cover your logs to avoid being passively traced though the Internet. To know whether you are being traced (and how long you have before being caught) you must use software called a Trace Tracker. A high pitched beep is emitted from it, getting faster as the trace gets closer. This noise is said to haunt some of the veteran hackers to this day…
One of the main problems with Uplink is the pacing issues. While doing the actual mission, the game is very fast, but while waiting to be paid or for any mission you’re actually allowed to do (blame the broken morality system) you could be waiting minutes at a time even with the clock at full speed! You could miss anything at that speed, even the start of the story, as I did one one occasion.
Another problem is difficulty. The game can be very easy if you are lucky, or it could leave you with very little cash even after hundreds of jobs. Then all of a sudden, without warning, the final mission is upon you, and you either have to infect every system, or stop the virus, depending on the path you chose. You have to work incredibly fast and hope you don’t get caught. You can still get caught while stopping the virus!
The game is entirely randomly generated, from the company names to the architecture of a LAN. At any point in the game you could be given the location to a millionaire’s bank account. With this, you could take all their money and never have to work until the story begins.
The game comes with far too many Easter eggs: Lots of joke servers, three books of game bibles, and some online websites; it’s almost as if they spent more time on the secrets than the actual game. Lots was missed out, including cooling systems for your Gateway and security systems (there are three slots with only two systems to fill them).
The game is worth playing at only £5.00 but I can’t help thinking, are there Too Many Secrets?