Uplink [Introversion Software] – $4.99

Hacking based games have always been a favorite of mine, and they really seem to fit very well on the iDevice. Hacker Evolution, Digital Heist, The Hacker, The Hack Run Trilogy… but none of these have really done for me what Introversion Software’s Uplink has done. A perfect port of the PC version, Uplink’s fantastic story, user interface, graphics, music, gameplay and paranoia are just as addictive as they were 10+ years ago using a mouse and keyboard. Though not very realistic, it captures the essence of ‘Hollywood Hacking’ like that shown in Hackers, Swordfish, Sneakers, and other ‘Hacker Inspired’ films, which makes for a much more interesting video game. 
Uplink’s story revolves around the Andromeda Research Corporation, which is creating a computer virus using artificial life research that can destroy the Internet. Another company, Arunmor, is trying to create another virus that can destroy Andromeda’s virus. You’re able to choose between Arunmor and Andromeda, or you can just focus on completing every mission you can while the story goes on without you. 
You start off joining the Uplink Corporation who provides work for hackers by matching missions with skill levels and providing both the hardware and software that’s needed to do the work. Once you create a user account with the company, you’ll need to prove you have what it takes to work for them by completing a test mission. You are able to activate the tutorial for this, which walks you through, step by step, showing you the basic mechanics of the game. There’s also a ‘Help’ section on the Uplink Corporation’s mainframe which gives you information about security systems and software, as well as anything else you might have questions about throughout the game. 
Once you complete the test mission, you’re able to sign in to the Uplink Corporation and view the ‘Mission List’. Here is where you’ll be able to accept jobs from companies based on your user level. Completing missions raises your level and gives you credits which you can use to purchase more software and upgrade your hardware. Starting off, you’ll have a bunch of missions which have you copying and deleting files, but once you raise your level, you’ll be altering documents, destroying entire libraries of data, and even outing other hackers. 
The user interface for a hacking game like Uplink is extremely important, and Introversion Software has done a great job making the game easy to navigate and understand. On the top of the screen, you’re able to see the date, and your IP address, as well as fast forward time which comes in handy if you’re waiting to have better hardware installed, or are waiting for more missions which fit your level. 
There’s also a CPU Usage bar , which is pretty much like a Task Manager, showing what applications are running, and how much power they’re using. You can also send more power to a specific application, making it run faster, or take power away from one that doesn’t require as much, like your Trace_Tracker (which lets you know when you’re being traced), so that you can give more power to your file copier, password breaker, or any other applications that might need to be sped up. 
In the top right corner is the world map, showing all of the networks which you can connect to. Here is where you’ll bounce different connections off of different networks, making it harder for companies to trace your IP address. 
Along the bottom of the screen are your icons used for starting up applications, reading e-mails, reading your accepted missions, checking out your level, credit amount, installed software and what hardware you currently have. Tapping on the satellite in the bottom left corner pops up a menu which separates your applications by type; Utilities, Drivers, Security, Crackers, ect. To start an application, all you need to do is find it in the list, and tap on it. Once you get further along into the game and need to change information, or enter names to search for, a keyboard pops up on the bottom half of the screen. It’s responsiveness is fairly quick, so you’re never stuck waiting for the keyboard to pop up, taking up time while you’re being traced, which is great.
Uplink is priced at $4.99, and only available for the iPad. If you’re even remotely intrigued by hacking, or into hacker games, Uplink is one of the most entertaining titles, on any gaming platform, that you can check out. Sadly, there is no GameCenter integration, which means no achievements, which would have been a fantastic addition to the iOS version. A leader board for total number of completed missions would have been great to have as well. But the gameplay doesn’t suffer from the lack of a leaderboard and achievements, and still gives players the drive to keep coming back, completing more missions, and progressing further along with the plot. It’s a must get for fans of the genre, and at the current price, is a steal. Hopefully Uplink will sell well, and get some much deserved attention so that Introversion Software can port over more of their fantastic titles to the iOS. DEFCON, Darwinia and others would be fantastic on the touch screen. 

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