This is local copy of an informal review of Uplink, origionally posted on Player2Player.net.
The original article can be found here.
Written by Somebob
Go here www.introversion.co.uk. Read the site. Play the demo. Become massively addicted.
Now, to explain: Uplink is a single player cyberpunk type game, where you assume the role of a hacker, who picks and chooses the software you will use, what Gateway (resemblance, somewhat, to a Deck of Shadowrun lore) you'll be using, what hardware, whether you'll be a Good Guy or a Bad Guy (Both COMPLETELY subjective), and what jobs you will do for who. The interface is quite simple, the tutorial tells you most of what you need to know in very clear terms, and the flaws in the game are VERY few and far between. Namely, the overworld map could use some work (easily remedied in a game patch), and banks may be SLIGHTLY too rewarding. The concept of Sim Hacker may seem corny or stupid, and I thought so, too, but it's a damn good game, VERY solidly made, with more depth than you'd expect, as well as an actual plot you can choose to follow (or not), as well as a fairly large degree of customizability. Some mission goals may be confusing, but trial and error usually solves things.
How does the game manage to be interesting without being as tedious as "real" hacking? Well, it's almost entirely a graphical interface, but with enough twists to make it not a cakewalk. Oddly, it also manages to generate some adrenaline when you're on a complex run, and your litttle trace timer is counting down a little too quickly while you also know you have to stop a passive trace by deleting logs you've left on the systems you route through. All the while, you're trying to type correctly account numbers, bank IP addresses, and correct amounts, then cursing as you discover you forgot to disable the proxy or firewall residing on the system. When time runs out, your existance is disavowed and Game Over. Of course, you can always bail out, which will stop the active traces, but you have to clean up after yourself in several places to prevent the feds from tracing your trail and making Bubba your new friend. A few of the corps you deal with are similarly unfriendly in their own way, so a self-destruct device in your remote Gateway is a sound investment for when the shit hits the fan.
The game, at least the full version, also has easter eggs above and beyond any other game I've ever seen, some of them so damned well disguised you'd have to be a near genius (or just have certain knowledge and a good guessing ability) to figure them out, adding a layer of things to do should you manage to finish the game with all in-game secrets found. Yes, there ARE out of game secrets aplenty, in myriad forms, all of which provide extra challenge for the masochist or interested cyrptologist.
For other things that make the game interesting, one major factor is the price: $25 for the full version, including shipping to the US. The entire game weighs in at a nice 60 megabytes total, avoiding any bloat at all. The copy protection is as little as possible so that you, and your computer, are as free as possible to do what YOU want even when running the game. The protection that does exist is done in an old-school way that will amuse those of you old enough to remember the archaic protections that used to be employed. Even the protection itself holds a secret, thus serving multiple functions, but I'll leave that alone for now so as not to spoil anything.
The game also apparently has no publisher, so every penny of the purchase goes to the developers, who appear QUITE competent. The $25 fee is not at ALL unreasonable for a game of this quality and calibre, and quite a bit less than your usual overhyped, overadvertised, fancy-boxed, featured in a retail store game (where the profits from the box sale go mostly to the publisher, meaning the games have to sell huge amounts of copies to avoid bankrupting the devs.) You won't get any fancy accessories with your purchase, but with the average quality of so-called freebies included in new, expensive games, no big loss.
Anyway, for anyone who's enjoyed playing a Decker in Shadowrun, played any of the Shadowrun console games, or even the old BBSHack door games from so long ago, Uplink is an affordable, very fun, and nicely addictive distraction. The developers also tenatively plan an online version of Uplink, possibly MMOG type, assuming the game succeeds beyond their wildest dreams. And, from all indications, it should: It's clean, fast, small, fun, easy to get into, depth, a good plot, and freedom to do what you want.
One warning: With the heightened state of I.net surveillance, at least in the US (Carnivore is luv!), I'm certain that by discussing this game in IRC I've been noticed QUITE a few times by the oh-so-friendly snooping software employed by our very own FBI. Haven't had a white van parked out front yet, though, but if any surveillance systems are keyword based, well, I'm probably recorded on all of em. And more.
Uplink is a trademark of Introversion Software