The Agent Reviews a Game: Ingress



Choose your sides wisely, agents…


I talk shop about games a lot here at the Archive and I’ve even reviewed a few, but this will be a first for me. Today, for the first time, we’ll be covering a mobile game.

I made brief mention of Ingress back in my April Fool’s recap, but I really wanted talk about it in detail because it does something that electronic games in my day never did – make the people playing them get outside and explore the world.

As mentioned previously, Ingress (literally meaning entrance for those who had to look it up in a thesaurus like me) is an Augmented Reality game (AR for short) that turns the world around you into the playing field.

There does exist a story in Ingress, but it’s one of the most unobtrusive plots I’ve encountered that one can take or leave at will since Team Fortress 2. The main framing device involves the discovery of “Exotic Matter” or XM that has been linked to a little known and unseen race called the Shapers. The discovery of these two has divided humanity (read: the players) into two factions of agents; the Enlightened who believe that XM and the Shapers can lead humanity into a new age of prosparity and enlightenment and the Resistance who fear a possible Shaper invasion and seek to stem of the flow of XM into the world.

The Gameplay is simple enough; after choosing a side as either Enlightened or Resistance, you must use your GPS-enabled mobile device with the aid of an AI companion to seek out portals where XM is entering the world and claim them for you team. This is done by hacking portals to receive items including resonators to claim portals, resonator mods to reinforce captured portals, XMP (Exotic Matter Pulse) Bursters to attack and destroy enemy resonators and mods, and portal keys that you need in order to link multiple controlled portals together to form control fields.

In order to find portals, you have to explore the world around you. Portals can be anywhere but are most commonly seen at monuments, memorials, parks, and various other places where tourists or recreational groups may be expected to gather. Once you are in range (roughly 35 meters), you can interact with the portal as you need.

I have very few qualms with the game overall. It’s addicting, it forces me out of the house to walk and get fresh air, and it helped me to discover a lot of interesting places that I never notices before. I’ve also been quick to make new friends on both sides (cooperation between factions to build neutral zones and set rules of engagement is surprisingly common).

If I had to criticize anything, which I do for the sake of this article, it’s that the leveling system creates a significant divide among players. Those just starting out will struggle to find any portals they can claim from opposing factions as the more powerful resonators and XMP’s are only available to higher lever players.

On the other hand this does encourage cooperation with other players. By connecting with local players in my region, I was able to coordinate an item drop to restock my supplies and reinforce portals that I lacked gear for at the time.

Overall, if you’re looking for an excuse to get out of the house, I’d happily recommend Ingress. It’s free for Android and Apple devices and easy to get into. Just be prepared to occasionally pull your hair out when you finish securing your neighborhood only to have someone take down that one portal that brings down the entire field you established.

The Agent’s Favorite Gags of April Fool’s 2015

I know of a fair number of people that detest the concept of April Fool’s Day, but I just can’t bring myself to hate on it. I love the idea of a day where it’s socially acceptable to mess with people’s heads.

More so than that, I like seeing what established companies and personalities on the internet do to play with the folks that support them. So, let’s take a look at some of my favorite harmless shenanigans of this year.

Ingress One-ups Google’s Prank

“I got In-Gress Fe-ver!”
Source: GeekNative

For those that don’t know, Ingress is an augmented reality mobile game that turns major landmarks and locations into portals that you compete for control over with players around the world.

Now, some of you may be aware of Google turning its maps into playable Pac-Man stages. But Ingress said, “Why play Pac-Man in the streets when you can BE Pac-Man in the streets?”

For one day, the game was Pac-Man themed. Your marker was the titular hero, the portals were ghosts, and the Exotic Matter (XM, for short) that powers your actions became those classic pellets.

It was oddly satisfying to walk through town collecting XM and hearing that classic “Waka-Waka” sound. I would say that an AR Pac-Man game would be a great concept, but I’d imagine a lot of accidents resulting from people staring at their phones and not watching where they were going.

Still, if any of the development team is reading this, could you make the option to make this a permanent change for us? Thanks.

Gaijin Goombah “Loves” Pachinko

I’ve mentioned how much I love the work of Gaijin Goombah here and how he can find value in the things that others either don’t notice or just take for granted. But it seems even he can’t get excited about every game that comes his way.

In a video claiming to “take a critical look into one of Japan’s most thriving gambling past times,” Gaijin blindsides us with a slow clip of a video pachinko machine (he had to buy the game due to strict anti-photograhy laws in parlors). I think the funniest part was just the slow pan on his blank “Pokerface” expression – totally speechless in the face of the repetitive sight before him.

Oddly enough, this got me to thinking about the concept of Pachinko and its appeal. I think it may come from the fact that it’s almost completely automated and requires little effort from the player other than launch power adjustment. I almost want to compare it when I go to the arcade and drop streams of tokens into prize ticket games.

So, thanks Gaijin; You made me laugh and think.

DeviantART Discovers a New Color

“The colors, Duke! The Colors!”
Source: The Daily Dot

Right off the bat this sounds fairly standard. A bunch of DeviantART administrators got together to write an article about a new color discovered via the Large Hadron Collider. Seems like their sort of thing – an art community would naturally be inclined to joke about something that revolutionizes visual media.

But here’s why I like this gag so much; as stupid and obvious as it was, I COULD have bought it.

You see, so-called “impossible colors” technically exist and have been talked about for some time. At first when someone told me about this article, I thought they meant they found a way to visualize them. But a quick read and I soon lifted the veil.

Nice try, folks. Next time, be sure to bring your A-Game.

ProJared’s Fun with Phalli (Warning: NSFW Video)

ProJared normally has a surprisingly refined style in his videos. So you can imagine my surprise when he spent over three minutes in a video talking about dicks (or DYICKS if we’re going by his pronunciation).

The funny thing is that, though I doubt he intended it this way, this video is a nice reversal of the male gaze in gaming. So many games focus on large breasted women. So, seeing guys get similar treatment was kind of refreshing.

I’m some what disappointed he left out Shin Megami Tensei’s Mara. I mean, you can’t get much more DYICK in a game than making a character that is quite literally a giant, sentient DYICK.

Regardless, thank you, Jared, for making us laugh and sharing some SWEET DYICK, BRO.