Uplink is a bit like Zork – no wait, before you click away from this page, hear me out…
Uplink is one of those games that has embedded itself into the subculture of gaming and gamers, granted not everyone has played it (just like I haven’t played Zork) but everyone knows about the game or knows someone who has played it.
Created by Introversion Software (who then went on to make Darwinia and DEFCON) Uplink: Hacker Elite is probably best described as a ‘Hollywood-hacker simulator’ in which you don’t really simulate hacking in the traditional sense but rather the commonly interpreted rendition of hacking used in movies and other games. It doesn’t make for good viewing to simply see blocks of white text scroll by so they have to jazz it up a bit. Uplink presents you with a clean crisp ‘desktop replacement’ and through the fairly helpful tutorial you learn how to connect to different terminals and companies around the world, hack into their databases and basically play merry hell with their files.
As a fresh face at ‘The Agency’ one of your first missions is to hack into a test machine, copy a file and then e-mail that file to your contact for payment. A reasonably simple job once you learn the mechanics around it and one that leaves you itching for more. You find yourself searching the inbuilt Uplink Jobs Board for jobs of your level, that bigger risk, that bigger reward – before you know it you’re hooked!
As you progress through the game you can also upgrade your system, adding additional memory to carry and copy bigger files, faster Processors so that when you have a Firewall Bypasser, Proxy Bypasser, Trace Tracker and Log Deleter all running at the same time (and you will) you have enough power to handle everything. This is crucial as when you get caught in Uplink (and you will) you are essentially arrested and ‘The Agency’ denies all knowledge of you. That’s it, no loading previous saves, no restarting the mission, just back to Square One.
Now this is understandably frustrating, having CptFastFingers hauled off in chains for cyber crimes was pretty devastating at first considering I had just paid roughly 65000 credits for a new system for my next run of missions but I instantly took what I had learned with me to my next player – like an ethereal reincarnation CptFastFinger2 had built up his reputation and bank balance quickly.
Uplink is not a big game, nor does it sport flashy graphics, A-List voice acting or a dynamic physics engine. But then again, neither did Zork, and everyone still remembers The Grue from Zork – even if they didn’t play it!
GOG.com (Good Old Games) provided SlimGamer.com with a code for Uplink for this review.