Save the world with Ingress, an augmented reality app from Pokémon Go's Niantic

Save the world with Ingress, an augmented reality app from Pokémon Go's Niantic

Ever wonder what's really going on in the world around you?

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Are you getting tired of Pokemon GO? Need another AR game that has the same quality, but a different story? Take a look at Ingress, an app available on the App Store and Google Play, and transforms the world around you into a battleground for humanity. (To sum it up.)

Ingress is a very popular game and made by the same people as Pokémon Go. The game launched first for Android in 2012, then iOS in 2014, and players are based all over the world — they're seriously into Ingress. Here's why.

Gear up for battle

When you first login, the app will ask you for your email, permissions, the usual stuff. The app will also give you some details on the back story: A substance called 'Exotic Matter' — or XM — has been discovered in a lab and has the ability to control human thought.

Ingress uses historic sites and monuments as battlegrounds in Ingress.

You also need to pick a side — The Enlightened or The Resistance. The Enlightened are trying to harness the power of Exotic Matter, while the Resistance is trying to stop humanity from being enslaved. If I'm reading this right, the Enlightened are evil and the Resistance is good.

The Scanner map view is your homepage — the screen shows a basic map of your surrounding area along with your location. You can tap on the map, and then interact with portals and objects within the yellow circle.

The goal is to hack portals, usually a historical site or monument — places where XM is leaking into the world. Think of the way Poké Stops work in Pokémon GO. (Which makes sense given Niantic launched Ingress first.) Blue portals are controlled by the Resistance, green ones by the Enlightened.

Capturing, or destroying, portals is the point of the game.

The point of the game is pretty simple: You capture portals and the team with the most portals gains control over the area. Of course there are in-app purchases that can make this easier, tools you can use to to hack and destroy portals.

Taking stock

The interface for Ingress is very complex, and has the feel of a sci-fi, high-tech future world. The number of buttons and choices are actually a bit too much. It takes getting used to knowing which button to push, which detracted from the game, in my opinion.

Playing with a group of friends — and competing against one another — would probably up the game play. And certainly there are devoted fans all over the world. But for me, playing solo wasn't as much fun, nor was the AR that impressive: Just a map of your surroundings along with tourist attractions.

Of course the game is free, so taking a stab at conquering some portals is not a big risk — of time and money.

You're going to pick a side: fight for the Resistance or the Enlightened.

Pros: Creative storyline, the smooth graphics and location accuracy.

Cons: Complicated interface, lack of AR innovation and gameplay repetition.

- GearBrain app reviewer Amber Wang last wrote about 7 ways to soup up your smart kitchen.

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