Half-Life Uplink is, for those of you who aren’t aware, the classic demo for the original Half-Life. It is also the first taste of Half-Life that I experienced some ten years ago or more when I came across the demo on an old demo CD that came with a long-gone PC magazine.
What makes Uplink so special, both in the world of Half-Life and in the great demo debate that rages nowadays is that it was its own self-contained story set in the Black Mesa Research Facility. It featured a decent selection of weapons and enemies that you comeacross in the full game, but because it isn’t simply the opening levels of Half-Life it doesn’t ruin the main story in any way.
Your goal in the half-hour or so of Uplink is to align a satellite for a scientist to send a warning message out about what is happening in Black Mesa. As you fight your way to the satellite tower you battle through the ever versatile headcrabs and zombies along with those dastardly marines. You also get to blow up some of those marines using their own explosives, quite an amusing moment.
Uplink also hints towards the wider story of the game, you find a burning pit filled withe Vortigaunt bodies left by the marines and towards the end of the demo you start to head towards the Lambda core, the demo ends in a dramatic sequence involving the ‘Big Blue Bastard’ with the G-man looking on.
It emerges at the end of the sequence that you, as Gordon Freeman, have been under evaluation during the events of Uplink, though it is revealed that more data is required regarding your performance in establishing the ‘Uplink’.
When I first played it I was blown away by what I was seeing, Uplink was my first real taste of first-person shooters and of Half-Life. It may simply be made up of various levels that were cut from the final game, but they were stitched together to create a very exciting little package.
Uplink was a great way of showing off Half-Life without simply using the first sections of the full game and it shows how demos should be done, in an ideal world obviously. For technical and financial reasons it is understandable why developers don’t create demos in the same vein asUplink anymore, but maybe someone out there will look at Uplink and realise that this is how a game should be demo’d.
If you want to try out Uplink them just head here and give it a go, at just under 50 megs it is worth giving it a go.