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  1. #1

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    Hacking Simulations - Uplink and Dark Signs

    I've never posted about these games before since they are only SP. They're great games though. These are hacking games but they only simulate it so it isn't like the real thing. First, I'll go over what Uplink is all about then I'll talk about Dark Signs, which can be considered the elite hacking simulation.

    Uplink is a game by Introversion made about two years ago. It's the first game by this Britsh developer and I found it to be ground breaking. I've never seen a game with such unique gameplay before. There might have been hacking games before this but Uplink has a great style and intriguing gameplay. The premise is you are an agent employed by a company called Uplink. For a monthly fee, Uplink provides the agent with access to a gateway computer connected to the AWAN (Arunmor Wide Area Network aka Internet) and their internal services. You can upgrade your gateway's hardware or get a new gateway altogether that has greater hardware capacity. Uplink has a bulletin board where agents accept hacking missions. Missions get increasingly harder according to your user rating. Your rating goes up as you complete missions.

    How does one hack in this game? One will need software. Part of Uplink's internal services is a software store. It has a variety of hacking software such as password breakers (basically a brute force cracker), trace trackers, log deleters, and other tools to aid in the access of a computer system. Everything is graphical in Uplink so there's little typing and it's very easy to learn how to play. When connecting to a system, you bring up the world map that shows the locations of servers. From here you can route your connection through servers so it's harder to trace you. Missions vary from altering records, copying files, destroying files or disabling the entire system. The harder missions get down to framing other hackers or tracing hacks and involve breaking in to multiple systems.

    When I first played Uplink, I couldn't stop until the wee hours of the morning. It gets old since all the mission are similar even though they are randomly generated. However, I've recently played it again since fans have made some interesting mods to enhance the interface and add in really cool features. Even the devs have added a few features since the initial release. A while ago, they released a patch that added LAN systems and software to hack them. Although, they didn't add many new missions to take advantage of LAN hacking, it's very interesting. You get a graphical layout of the LAN and you have to break through systems to get to the LAN's mainframe.

    Uplink is still for sale through Introversion's website and you may be able to find it in stores since they did get it published a while ago. It's probably better to try out the demo, though.

    Now, Dark Signs! I recently found out about this on Uplink's forums. It's old school hacking and much harder. The game hasn't reached v1.0 status so it's got some unfinished parts and bugs. Still, I find it's pretty good and a nice workout for the noggin. Dark Signs is written by a bunch of Australian programmers that wanted something truer to hacking than Uplink. It's still far from the real thing but the ideas of hacking are similar. It's all about getting to know the target in order to bypass security. The game is free at the moment and has a few add-on missions created by fans.

    Everything in Dark Signs is console-based. It's DOS redux! Or, Unix if you're familiar with it. Put your mouse aside because there's going to be a lot of typing. Unix users will fit right in with Dark Signs. It has its own scripting system that is similar to Unix scripting. You can write scripts to do just about anything. Need a brute force script? Write one to brute force that server required to complete the mission. Need a customized port scanner? Write one that scans certain ports. Of course, all the scripts written in Dark Signs cannot be used anywhere else. So a malicious script that breaks into fbi.gov will not actually work on a real website.

    Dark Signs is not for any neophyte. It takes a lot of exploring and head banging to break into a system. The learning curve is very high. It took me about an hour of reading to understand the scripting language. The interface might not be appealing either. With all the typing and ASCII interfaces, you might go nuts. It's rewarding though to finally find out that username and password. It's a rush and there's no risk of getting arrested! Dark Signs is definitely something to try out if you're bored of Uplink or want some geeky fun.
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  3. #2

    Zephyr's Avatar

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    Re: Hacking Simulations - Uplink and Dark Signs

    I would wholeheartedly recommend Uplink, I've been playing it nearly nonstop for 24 hours and I have to say that I'm sure I got my $10 worth.
    -Zephyr
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  5. #3

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    Re: Hacking Simulations - Uplink and Dark Signs

    I was thinking about getting Uplink. I really like games that try to be totally different from anything you've played before.

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  7. #4

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    Re: Hacking Simulations - Uplink and Dark Signs

    It's $10. You aren't exactly wasting your money here. Most games, like Prey for example, will offer you the same amount of play time. This game on the other hand, seems to be dozens of hours if you get into it.
    -Zephyr
    You were once like the newbie who needed a hand from above and TacticalGamer gave you it.

    You owe the newbie who comes after you that same outstretched hand from above on your honor as a Tactical Gamer.

    Tactics at TG come from trust and friendship, not meticulous detail and rigid discipline.

    Everyone should be assumed mature until proven otherwise.

    We are no clan.
    We are not a single game.
    We are mature, intelligent, and cooperative individuals.
    We are TacticalGamer, a community above and beyond its name.

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  9. #5
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    Re: Hacking Simulations - Uplink and Dark Signs

    Games like this are why ratings need to be 2 dimensional (quality versus innovation), as although this game gets repetitive fairly soon, and lacks real guidance, it's extremely innovative. Unfortunately, that doesn't come across too well in review scores.

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