The background story is that something we call “Shapers” are releasing XM – Exotic Matter – into our world. There are two interpretations of this: Either XM is something dangerous that humanity needs to be protected from, or it is something that we can learn from and take advantage of. You as a player are on one of these sides; in the Resistance or in the Enlightened.
XM is spread all over the world but it is mainly gathered around portals. Portals are real objects – statues, buildings, places of interest – and this is where Ingress becomes really interesting: The game takes place in the real world. You are in game where you are in the real world and you are fighting for control over real-life objects.
You contribute to your team by claiming portals, creating links between portals, or by building fields using several linked portals. To claim portals you need items collected by “hacking” and you need XMP, which is collected when you move around on the map. Every action requires a certain amount of XMP which means that you are encouraged to walk around in order to continue to take actions in the game.
I like Ingress, with some exceptions. The overall impression is good, with a long backstory to tie the game together. There is also a good tutorial for new players.
The game mechanics are also good. Both friendly and enemy portals can be hacked with gives you items to build offensive or defensive structures. There are no quick reactions needed, you attack or build defence at your own pace.
On the down side is that it tends to feel like a job at the first few levels. You know that feeling when you need gold in an MMO and you have to run around on a field and kill rats for an hour? That has been my Ingress experience, except that I actually had to move my behind from my computer chair and run around on real fields. I am sure that the experience varies if you live on the country side or in a big city, but for me this has been the biggest threshold to continue playing.
That said, I have still had fun and I will probably will keep playing as long as there are opponents to fight. (Also, I have gotten some good exercise and increased the kilometre count in my Runkeeper-log.)
My favourite part of the game is that the portals are actual objects like statues, buildings and works of art. Google encourages their players to send suggestions for new portals and I am sure that Ingress is a gold mine for them, giving them information about places of interests even in the smallest of towns and also on how users move around in the cities. This also makes this game good as a tourist app when you want to explore a city you have never been to.
Those who strongly worry about their integrity and surveillance may want to think an extra time before they start playing.
6/10 portal keys