Introversion’s Uplink is a fast-paced action game wrapped in an entirely text-based hacking simulator. If you wanted to call it “Anonymous” the game, I don’t think the developers, players, or Anonymous for that matter, would mind. Initially released in 2001 for Windows, and one of the first major “Indie” releases to garner widespread praise and acclaim, it’s exciting to see it re-released on a platform desperate for deep and exciting gaming experiences.
The transition to IOS devices is smooth and seamless. At first glance Uplink appears to be one of those boring ‘spreadsheet’ games like Soccer Manager 2011, or the old pro wrestling management simulators of the early 2000s, but it is anything but. The game makes hacking exciting by making things as simple and realistic as possible, while boiling down the experience to its basic essence much like, believe it or not, Rock Band. After setting up a ‘gateway’ (your hacking terminal), you embark on a quest to become the best “Uplink Agent” agent you can be. This typically involves dialing into remote terminals, stealing files, altering records, and falsifying data. The majority of the game involves clicking the right buttons and typing the right words as quickly as possible, and managing programs while you do it. For example if your password cracker and IP tracer run at the same time, both will run slower due to their sharing of system resources. As you go along you can upgrade your computer with new modems and processors and programs, as the tasks become more difficult as you go along, and you’ll require more horsepower to accomplish missions with regularity.
Racing against the clock to steal info, delete key files, or falsify a record before the connection is traced and disconnected, is heart pounding and one of the more unique experiences to be had on an Ipad. The music is intense in the best way, and the sound effects all add a sleek sheen to the app. To delve into the game and get a lot of out it, however, requires a special kind of player. One who understands computers and hacking, finds them utterly fascinating, but can’t be bothered to learn how to really do it, again, much like Rock Band. However, If the idea of being a cyberpunk hacker never appealed to you, this may not be the game for you. But for fans of the culture, further adding to the surreal appeal of the proceedings is that the game game out in 2001. As a result, little nuances such as “dialing” into another computer conjures a twinge of nostalgia for any techie who remembers the days of AOL 6.0 and 56k modems.
Ultimately, for 4.99, this game is an absolute steal. You’re getting an exciting game that is tough and rewarding, and the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out. Back in 2001, Uplink was at the forefront of indie gaming, and one of the most exciting things to be released that year. Here, in 2012, it’s just as fun, just as exciting, and if the idea of causing a little digital havok appeals to you, this is quite simply the best way to do it.