Review by miyaa999
Best Modern Hodgepodge Game that Intergrates Everything Well
The Secret World might as well be a fable of how Apple, Microsoft and Red Hat or Google battle each other while keeping a warily coalition going. Or maybe World Politics. I'll explain. The Secret World is a MMORPG that has a lot of Guild War-equse elements in it that plays off of and often takes the other side. Basically you shallow a bee and you end up being dragged into a secret society's coalition that well, is very, very, interesting.
First off, the eye-candy is very well done, even on my machine which it claims was "below minimum specs" which I suspect is only because I don't use nVidia for my video cartridge on my laptop. (If you do have that problem, just go with a windowed screen on a smaller scale, you shouldn't have any trouble.) The music is marvelous, both erie and yet inviting. The music doesn't bombast you or beat you upside the head either. Voice-over acting is pretty good, especially as the newer games follow Star Wars' lead in having everything voice-acted. It is quite the game.
Gameplay is basically taking the other tact on many things you might find in Guild Wars. Instead of classes, everything is skill-heavy, but you can use suggested decks to develop your characters. You gain clothes for filling out various characters and the decks are somewhat tailored towards what a particular faction wants. What is really interesting is that it seems like there's no limit as to how many ability points you can accumulate or how many skill points either. EA and Funcom really wants you to fill-up all of those skill points. They do have a seven-slot active and passive abilities limit, which is similar to Guild Wars, and that will probably turn-off the "I want to be able to use all my abilities" World of Warcraft type crowd. You use the active controls to attack enemies, while moving around the game with the keyboard or mouse. The controls are mouse and keyboard and this is where I wish there was a joystick option as you may find yourself running around to avoid your enemy. Turning around and facing your enemies on a keyboard/mouse combination is sort of like trying to parallel park the car from the B-52's Love Shack.
What really interest me is the three secret society you get to choose from, or rather, you can have one character slot per each secret society. Basically, the Templars are the European Old World secret society, with an opulent hiding in plain sight sort of headquarters, probably very close to Buckingham Palace. Consider them Apple. Their main rival is the Illuminati, the technologically heavy yet sleek and minimal headquarters in the rundown sections of Brooklyn. This is Microsoft (although you could argue they two could switch sides). They're the blue to the Templar's red. Green is the Dragon, who likes to have the other two play off each other while doing just enough needling so that they get to control everything through chaos theory. They synthesize the minimalistic feel of the Illuminati while have a very old world feel in this society's headquarters. This is Red Hat or Google. And unlike the other two that "invites" people in, the Dragon don't invite, they drag you in kicking and screaming. (Well, the others drag you in, but at least they invite you first.) The three have a truce while they try to keep the real evil from overrunning the real world.
I also love the fact its set in an alternative modern times, which are very few of those around. You can use blades, arrows, and magic, but guns play a big role as well. Where all of eye-candy, game concept and story line integrates the best is in the tutorial arena, which is the back end of a luxurious Templar bar (the secret society version of an Elks/Shriner/Knights bar), a virtual fighting area in some nondescript Illuminati warehouse (wonder if the Ark of the Covenant is in one of those boxes), and a proper Dragon dojo (although it really could use a koi pond and fountain). That pretty much tells you the believes and atmosphere of each secret society to a T. Speaking of integration, this is first game I know of that really integrates videos well, where there is a video tutorial on each faction and how to use your weapons and abilities and how to improve you character as you gain more points.
There are two areas, the Player versus Player where you fight others in arena that looks like other other's headquarters and a Player versus Environment where most of the main and side quests are provided. So far there are seven "dimensions" or servers, with one dedicated for French and German speaking people, and a Roleplaying one.
My biggest question about this game is will there be enough stuff to do before you fill up your skill set? The quests are set up so that you can work on each quest until it you've completed it, and then you can repeat the quests after a cool-off period, which for most quests is 18 hours. Later quests, especially the main quests will require you to work in groups, which is different from the solo runs that World of Warcraft types seem to be steering towards. There are also solo quests that require you to work alone, but from what I gathered those quests are much less emphasized than the group quests. Outside of quests, the "cities" for these societies are operational, but only the Templars seem fully fleshed out at the moment. The in-game store is a minor drawback, but only if Funcom sticks to letting people buy points to spend for clothes.
The Secret World is a great game that integrates various types of gameplay together into a very cohesive game that I may end up paying the $15 monthly game fee to continue.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: The Secret World (US, 07/03/12)
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