Augmented Reality is an interesting thing. The potential for amazing things is almost unchecked, offering a world where every day life can be seen in a whole new way, allowing access to data you didn't even know you needed, and of course, a brand new way to play games.
Ingress is one such game, using AR to present a fairly unique experience. I have to say the interface does look very cool, NianticLabs@Google presenting a way to make a GPS interface look slick and futuristic, while also adhering to the world and fiction they have created. Said fiction, is that Higgs-Boson research has created a strange side effect, a substance called Xotic Matter that is both energy and matter. This is seeping into our world via portals, and two factions are vieing for control of those portals, so that they may have control over the minds of people.
Ok, so its a bit hoaky, but it works in the context of the game. The interface presents a GPS view of your current position, and a blue circle surrounds your arrow. Floating dots are scattered around you, and any thay enter this circle are sucked to your arrow. This is XM, and powers a lot of your abilities in game. You must then find 'Portals' that can be hacked, attacked and linked to gain items and other goodies.
To find these portals, you must walk. A lot. In a noble effort, however, portals are generally located on either art projects or post offices scattered around various towns and cities around you. This is all well and good, but at present, at least in the UK, there simply isn't enough of them. I don't live in out in the sticks, my town, Birstall, is pretty central to no less than 3 large cities, all in easy communting distance, but I can only collect XP locally. There is a large statue of Joesph Priestly in Birstall (he discovered oxygen), but that doesnt count as a portal. Neither does the post office or anything in a 3 mile radius.
I understand that the point is get you to seek out art in your local area, but first starting out with the game can be confusing and with little do if you don't live in a major city the game becomes boring. This is a shame, because despite some GPS lag that means your arrow never, ever, appears to be on a road, the game is very cool.
All of these things can be addressed as the beta progresses, and I personally think the look of the game is awesome and so doesn't really need much improvement. The problem is the lack of things to do if you don't live in major metropolitain areas, and Ingress unfortunatly falls down here, with even the cities I do go to not having enough to do within the game to warrent the battery drain.
I you live in a major city, give the beta a go, its free and can be fun. If you live anywhere else though, give it a miss, you just won't make any real progress at present, try it again later in the year.