It is very difficult to discuss this title, as the usual three points of discussion do not apply. Ingress is not your normal game, as it involves and alters the players actual life. Discussion has been had about augmented reality prior, and this Examiner is a big fan of this kind of title, but this is.. something else.
The narrative behind the title is murky and still being written, but the core information as it relates to players is this: The world as we know it is saturated in an unknown energy, only referred to as Exotic Matter, or the initialism XM. Unknowingly, this XM and unknown entities known as Shapers, have been influencing humanity for an unknown period of time; the visual evidence of this is our works of architecture and sculpture. Battling over this discovery in a secret war are two factions; the Enlightened, who seek to embrace the Shapers’ influence and use what they offer to improve the world for mankind and the Resistance, who view the Shapers’ sudden appearance as an alien invasion and are fighting to stop it.
The trick to this title is that the ‘app’ downloaded to your Android device, be it phone or 4G enabled tablet, isn’t the whole of the game. Once the title is launched, players will notice that the software refers to itself as a Nemesis scanner, and has no movement controls. The software itself is a simple roadmap, upon which players can see small sparkling motes which represent XM, and maybe a shimmering point on the map, or a portal. The app is merely a sort of HUD; to actually play, players must physically move to the objects they see with the app running and interact with them.
The objective, Sisyphean as it is, is to take control of these portals, either by placing ‘resonators’ on them, or by removing opposing resonators from these portals via ‘bursters’, and placing the players own resonators on. Once a faction controls three or more portals, they can link them, creating a control field, which adds ‘MUs’, or unaffiliated humans, to the factions global score.
It appears, to any reasonable person, that this would be a ridiculous waste of time, but it really is not. Forcing oneself to venture out into the world they occupy encourages actual exercise and exploration of their locale; portals are commonly located at post offices, fire stations, libraries, and unique local businesses and pieces of art. A players in Spokane have told stories of finding new and interesting things while hunting a portal, others found a whole apartment building tucked between two restaurants in Coeur d’Alene, and a number of new and interesting things are being discovered in the process of furthering this conflict.
Gameplay, for the first time, is literally what the player makes of it; for the player that keeps to themselves, this will be a fun weekly walk around the city. But Ingress is, at it’s core, a massively multiplayer game; players that connect with their local faction and coordinate will find immediately a new group of friends and positive acquaintances with something to discuss in common and an activity to do with them all in one. Regardless, it is a fun mobile excursion.
Overall, it’s fun. The simplistic ‘game’ interface coupled with the need for actual player movement ramps the immersion up and the community aspect truly ensures that no-one will ever get truly bored. It is worth getting as soon as you can.
Ingress is available presently only on Android devices, however an iOs launch is planned in January. Ingress is also in closed beta, so would-be agents would do well to register for an invite at the official Ingress website. For those who cannot wait, there are a number of developers watching #Ingress on Google Plus and Twitter, and they respond to creative efforts with early invite codes. As always, anyone looking for a game can find me on Live @OperatorJames