Unlike other games that feature hacking as a mini-game, Uplink is a game solely about hacking. You are a hacker that takes jobs from various corporations to infiltrate the systems of other companies and accomplish specific goals. These goals can include finding/destroying specific data, editing financial data, forging transcripts, or destroying whole mainframe systems. This is not as easy as point and click however. The game tries to make itself seem as realistic as possible. One of the paramount concerns for the player is to eliminate any trace of their infiltration on a target server. This is accomplished by bouncing through a series of other servers in order to increase the amount of time it takes for a trace to be completed and then deleting access logs from selected machines. Players must gain administrative access to certain servers allowing them further time to accomplish their goals.
As missions are accomplished the player will accrue in-game currency which can be used to upgrade the various pieces of software employed in the hacking process. In addition the player can add numerous modules and tools that can be used to bypass security devices encountered on target services such as firewalls and proxies. Trace Trackers, Decrypters, and Crackers round out your arsenal of hacking tools. In addition the game has an overarching story that gives you more of a sense of purpose as you go about your missions. Another interesting aspect of the game is that you are given a neuromancer rating that indicates your style of hacking. If you destroy a server even though your mission may not require it, or take more questionable missions, then your rating will reflect this accordingly. It should also be mentioned that this game is very unforgiving: if you are caught, it's Game Over, plain and simple, no reloads, start back from scratch.
Despite what the game looks like it does have a rather compelling story to tell and one of the great things about it is if you choose not to pursue it, it continues without you. There is also a lot of extra information that you can get about the story by hacking different "odd" servers and reading the news whenever something new comes up.
The game is set in year 2010. At first the player isn't given any specific clues regarding the main plot of the game, until they receive an ambiguous e-mail from one of their fellow hackers, who is later found dead in his apartment. After some digging, cracking passwords and stealing data from Andromeda Research Corporation (ARC), the player discovers an ongoing fight between said corporation and Arunmor. During the course of the game, the player can make one of two choices - side with ARC and join their efforts to crash the whole World Wide Web using the virus called "Revelation", or help Arunmor foil evil plans of Andromeda and spread the "cure" for the virus. If the protagonist chooses to destroy the Internet, the game ends with his own computer crashing, as Revelation spreads through every server in the world, and choosing the "good guys" enables the main character to play the game infinitely after the virus is stopped.
Uplink features a number of homages and subtle allusions to famous "hacker" movies and some hidden messages from the developers.
- The player can hack the Protovision Server and type the password "Joshua" to "play the game" as in the movie War Games. It's also a first look into the third Introversion game, Defcon.
- If the player is caught, his deactivated user screen has a strange symbol resembling the one shown in the movie The Net. Clicking it causes credits to roll along with some messages from the developers.
- Hacking the Secret Service database enables the player to see some interesting files, such as the JFK assassination, Area 51 plans or Iraq intelligence (which is kind of disturbing as the game was made long before Operation Iraqi Freedom)
- Introversion Software server includes some information about future projects of the developer.
- Getting into OCP Monitoring servers displays the three directives of the Robocop.
- A clever Easter egg is hidden in the box of the retail version of Uplink. The player can find a written, narrative prologue to the game's plot if they figure out how to get the leaflet out of the CD case.
- In the retail version box, there's also a hidden password, which is written in binary code and must be deciphered to gain access to the "game bible" included on the CD, which contains tips and hints for the player.
PC System Requirements
- OS: Windows XP
- Processor: 600MHz CPU
- Memory: 128MB RAM
- Graphics: DX7 based video card
Mac System Requirements
- OS: OS X version Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3, or later.
- Processor: Intel Core Duo 1.66GHz+
- Memory: 1GB of RAM
- Graphics: 64MB of video memory