The Secret World review
Have you ever played a game that you wanted desperately to like, yet you knew was inherently flawed? That’s how I felt playing Funcom’s The Secret World – for the past month or so, I’ve desperately tried to find redeeming qualities for this game. But before I talk about what ruined it for me, let’s talk about what I loved so much about it.
Firstly, the game’s writing is superb. Taking place in a world that’s our own, but all the superstitions and stories that you’ve ever heard are true, the game has all the makings of one that’s familiar to just about anyone who picks it up. This means there’s plenty of pop culture references delievered throughout that don’t feel shoehorned in, and are done so through the game’s excellent voice acting. The game’s story, in which three factions (the Templars: Typical do what must be done for the greater good; the Illuminati: think Dante from Devil May Cry with a touch more business sense; and the Dragon: creating chaos, yet seeking to come out on top for it) are busy warring with each other and with other mystical forces to save humanity in one form or another ends up being very good, with many twists and turns delievered throughout the game’s main story quests.
These quests are varied, too – it’s not just the “go here, kill that, bring me this” grocery list we’re used to. There are mystery quests which really do force you to think, without the game screaming the answer at you. As an example, one quest gives you a note which makes you open the game’s internet browser (also built in and fully functional, a nice touch) and navigate to a “website” to gather clues for the investigation you’re working on. It’s the little things, I suppose, that make me happy. Though the answer to these quests is just a short wiki posting away, I couldn’t help but feel like love and care had gone into crafting some of these puzzles.
And don’t worry if you end up needing help - the game’s community is also superb, largely thanks to the cross realm interface that Funcom has implemented. Though there are many Secret World realms, it ends up not mattering at all, as you can group up with and even raid with people on other servers right out of the box. The only downside to this is that names are shared across all servers, making getting a name that isn’t being used by someone a little close to impossible. Getting a group for anything you want to do is also made easier by the fact that in PVE, factions don’t matter. You are able to group with someone no matter what faction they are, lending to the story that the various factions do need to team up to deal with threats, unlike the treatment other MMOs such as World of Warcraft have given where its factions were “working together”.
Lending to this is the game’s skill system. Once you’ve been playing long enough, you’ll have enough points so that you’ll have every skill available in the game, across all the various weapon types. This means that you’ll be able to fill any role eventually, provided you have the gear. And if you’ve been playing long enough, you likely will. Speaking of gear, don’t expect it to change your appearance. The game’s appearance altering gear are all basically costumes, with all of the stat altering gear being things that would be small enough to be invisible on your avatar such as earrings and rings – however, the weapon models seem to be more varied as a result. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not.