Uplink Review


Crafted for the PC roughly a decade ago, Uplink has been ported to the iPad by the original developer. This real-time hacker role playing game places you in a number of time pressured situations where you use your cunning, software upgrades and fictitious networking knowledge to thwart computer security systems to infiltrate for fun and profit. Read on to learn how this cult classic made the PC to iPad translation.
When Uplink first hit the scene nearly a decade ago, it was viewed as an original, somewhat quirky game that used the projected power of role playing imagination to suspend disbelief. If you let yourself be fooled by the boxy graphics and diluted computer application and network routing mechanics, Uplink might have given you a taste of being a 'black hat' computer hacker. While the techniques used to hack computers in the game have been simplified for the sake of pure entertainment value, there are enough exploit practices to give players a glimpse at what some cybercriminals may be up to.
Uplink Screenshot
Graphically and sonically, the game is identical to the original PC release except that the mouse has been replaced by the player's finger. The graphic refresh rate also feels smoother than the PC version, helping to make the game that much more immersive. Options to disable the background music and create multiple player identities are there just like the original as well. Three tutorial missions get players up to speed on the interface and the game objectives, then its up to gamers to run through the variety of exploits to perform on an array of fictitious remote computers.
Uplink Screenshot
Unfortunately, the developer missed a huge opportunity with the iPad edition. Instead of updating the game to reflect a more modern era of computing, Uplink is a direct port of the PC edition, right down to the game's time clock that starts ticking in March of 2010.  Purists might appreciate the strict adherence to the original, but fans of the original may be disappointed that Introversion opted for the direct port approach versus enhancing it for today's hacking environment. With full-blown malware command and control toolkits like Flame running about, probing systems on a one-to-one manual basis almost seems quaint as the game's modem negotiation communication hook-up sound effect by comparison.
If you were a fan of the original but never had the chance to play the game through, the iPad release of the game will transport you back in time and allow you to get right back up to speed. New players might be curious to learn about the exploits, though disappointed that their semi-realistic approaches are somewhat dated in today's bot-net army of sophistication. Perhaps if enough people purchase and appreciate the iPad port, Introversion may consider releasing a sequel that attempts to emulate a future network where military and civilian drones can be controlled and suck data from mobile mesh platforms, perhaps even attacking physical targets, altering the course of wars and perhaps humanity itself. But for now, Uplink players will need to be content with simulated on-screen PCs being infiltrated by other simulated PC's within Uplink's virtual world.
Title: Uplink
Price: $4.99
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.