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Origional article : http://www.nextgame.it/html/articolo.php?id=2218

Thanks to Chris Conly for the translation.

 

[Sidebar summary is translated at the end.]

Uplink

Is an original and well developed idea enough to compete with the big
game developers? Is passion enough to stand out from the mass of video
games presented on the market? Introversion Software is determined not
to miss the chance to show it can be done. We'll see what three bold
English guys have come up with...

May 1999. Chris Delay (at the time a young university student) began
just for the fun of it to develop an idea as intriguing as original:
bring to light a game based on hacking. This work (mostly at night)
went on for about 18 months before an initial version of what would
become Uplink was shown to some of his university friends; two of these
succeeded in convincing Chris that the idea was genuinely interesting
and merited deeper work. Introversion Software came to be founded from
that moment, a small (three person) but independent English "software
house" with the precise purpose of making a "hacking" video game.

The three young founders of Introversion Software distinguish themselves
as the unique developers of their product, without any support
whatsoever from external groups (be they publishers, distributors,
marketers, etc.). Uplink, in fact, was entirely developed by young
people who had no contact with the various commercial elements of the
video game market, a real rarity in the contemporary scene.
Introversion Software will in all probability be the last example of a
"software house" that uses this antique and artisanal method to produce
a game: everything used in Uplink is developed "in house," and the game
can only be gotten from the official site.

The Uplink CD includes both Windows and Linux versions, accompanied by a
translucent black sheet containing the codes needed to start a new game
(just like video games of years past).

A BUDDING HACKER

Introversion Software's first-born is a game completely based around
hacking. Starting with a basic computer and a couple of scripts
provided by the company (itself named Uplink) that has hired you as a
hacker, you must carry out commissions from shadowy organizations and
use the money they pay to augment the hardware and software resources of
your "gateway" (the computer with which you talk to the outside world),
in order to take on successively more difficult missions.

[Captions of the first three pictures:]

[Left] The principal screen of your gateway. In the center, all the
links you know. Below, the panel with which you launch programs and
interact with the world.

[Center] The news publishes significant events, including your own
misdeeds.

[Right] The indispensable map for making connections with the world's
servers.

You are in front of your screen at the beginning of a new game. In it
you find a brief email message announcing a test mission, to evaluate
your hacking abilities without any worry of being caught by the FBI
[sic]. Once this easy test is passed, you are officially posted in the
ranks of Uplink agents, and can have access to your first real missions.
These consist in deleting or copying important files from servers around
the world. When your first credits come in, you can decide whether to
add to your hardware resources (CPU, memory, modem, security systems) or
your software, so that you can take on more difficult missions.

LITTLE HACKERS GROW

Continuing progress depends on your employers, allowing access little by
little to more difficult missions as your experience increases. Beyond
the early systems protected by simple passwords, you find yourself
confronted with the first government databases, and with their proxy
servers. These obstacles passed, the hacker's life is ever harder:
firewalls, voice commanded systems, the FBI, and many others make it
tough for the player.

It's possible to break into any server, and there are several ways to do
it, and the easiest always cost you the most to get. Often, as you
begin to crack a server's password, you see indications of active
tracing from the server meant to reach back to the person hacking in.
Because of this you must take care to hide signs of your presence (the
"logs") and bounce your connection among as many servers as possible.
But you don't at all need to be an IT guru to start out and get on as a
hacker: you can play perfectly well without the faintest idea of what a
"proxy server" or a "firewall" is. Indeed, the game may make you
curious about some terminology in an unusual context.

[Captions of the second three pictures:]

[Left] Sometimes your job is to falsify degrees and diplomas.

[Center] The elliptic curve algorithm is hard to crack. Your gateway
must have a fast CPU.

[Right] No lack of chances to check the latest stock market quotes.

TRUST IS A WEAKNESS

Something not much noted about Uplink is the enormous freedom it gives
the player. You can really do anything. Destroy entire servers, spread
viruses all around the internet, send your enemies to prison, fake
diplomas, or buy and sell shares on the markets -- these are just some
of the freedoms Uplink gives you. Many of them are linked: ruining a
big company's mainframe provokes a fall in its share prices, and the
step from this to some rather unethical transactions we shall leave to
the player to discov er.

And we have not mentioned that the game presents its own drama, which
develops in 12 special missions concerns the future of the Internet: it
is centered around two mysterious software houses and the development of
a powerful virus with the potential to put an end to the Net of nets.
Introversion Software has gone beyond a game about hacking, and has
created a game within the game. There are many hidden areas of the
game, waiting for a smart hacker to find them. The Protovision server
conceals a pleasan t surprise for whoever finds the right password.
Even the Introversion server (they have put themselves inside their own
game) hides important information about the future of Uplink. And so
on...

Uplink is certainly an intriguing game, capable of exciting anyone
willing to try the demo available at the official site. It is available
for Windows and for Linux. In the long run the various missions become
too much alike, and when you succeed in equipping your gateway with the
best hardware and software there is not much incentive to continue,
except for curiosity to know how the plot comes out. But the
possibility of multiple endings allows for beginning the game again and
playing the hacker's part d ifferently.

The future looks rosy for the house of Introversion. Sales allow the
developers to continue developing Uplink, at the moment with a "bonus
CD" including interviews, documents and images about the internals of
the 2 1/2 year old project. The near future could present us with an
on-line version ("Uplink Online"), a vision that is still indistinct but
that could be an attractive reality.

Copyright GamesIdea Friday 25 January 2002

[Sidebar]

Edited by Emanuelele Gesuato [emanuele.g@etics.it]

Datasheet

Producer: Introversion Software
Developer: Internal
Distributor: Parallel importation [?]
Language: English
Availability: Available
Type: Simulation
Players: 1
Price: 25,99 Euro (50.326 Lire)

Comment:

Uplink is a well made game with some weaknesses in the polish of the
interface. But it remains a worthy product, presenting an original and
well developed idea. Uplink is a good game, recommended to anyone
interested in playing a hacker in 2010, battling in the labyrinth of the
Great Net, and trying to survive.

Hardware:

A simple 200MH Pentium, 64 MB of RAM, 20 MB of free hard disk space, and
a graphics card that supports standard Open GL are sufficient to project
you into the underground world of Uplink.

Multiplayer: No multiplayer mode.

Positive: Original and well-developed plot.

Negative: Graphical polish sometimes lacking.

Official site: http://www.introversion.co.uk

Fansites: Downlink [http://downlink.realgamers.net]
Twilight Shadows [http://www.twilightshadows.net/uplink]

 

Uplink is a trademark of Introversion Software