It’s all about character in The Secret World

By Stephan Bazzocchi (photo by Electronic Arts Inc.)

Don’t pack your Halloween stuff away just yet. We have a late entry for all you fans of the macabre.
Recently, The Secret World was on sale on Steam. It’s been a game I have been waiting to scoop up for quite some time. Being someone from Winnipeg, frugality is something that’s in my blood – so when it appeared for 12 bucks, I jumped, and continued to jump once I started playing. Since I have started my character, I’ve foregone playing many of my daily regulars, and focused on what I can only describe as every horror story come to life in one game.
There are some things that this game does right, and others not so much. Firstly, the mission system. This is by far the best quest/mission system in any MMO (massively multiplayer online game) I have seen. Almost every mission has a small cut scene, delving into the lore of the game, giving NPC (non-player character) background – sometimes with a bit of snark, others with a good chunk of paranoia.
The graphics are nothing cutting-edge, but it’s the story that ensures you won’t skip the cut scenes. Each one has NPCs with unique personalities, making even the most mundane escort mission seem important and an integral part of pushing the plot forward. Another point on plot: I have never seen a game that has this much lore in it.
Sure you have EVE and WoW (World of Warcraft) that have their backstories, but this one takes the cake. For example, there is a house that was burned to the ground that is used as the location of several missions, and has 14 pieces of lore you need to find that gives you the very fleshed out story behind the condition of the house, the events surrounding it now, and why it’s relevant to the overall story.
It’s that overall story that drags you into this game world and sets the foundation. The world graphics and ambience bring it to another level.
Then it tries to blur the lines between game world and reality. The premise of The Secret World is that just under the surface to our world, there is a world where evil tries to manifest itself, and several of the key factions in modern conspiracy theories are there to fight or capitalize on it.
With some of the missions, you are doing your research in the real world, using the real Google, and you search real sites, like Amazon, WordPress, or web pages of fictitious companies so you can find out some important clue to help progress the mission to its next stage. Of course they don’t tell you that’s what you need to do. That would make it too easy.
Aside from the extremely in-depth plot points, The Secret World is a semi-open one: you can travel to many of the locations on your own. The skill system is also an open one: you can steer your character in whatever type of offensive/defensive path you wish.
Once you’ve progressed far enough, you can switch skill loadouts on the fly making very purpose-driven setups.
The best part so far, is the game follows the pay-once, play-forever model. No subscription fees. When you look at the developers’ other products, Anarchy Online and Age of Conan, you can assume that this game will be around for quite some time, so if you can catch it on sale, grab it.
Just make sure your reading glasses prescription is pretty up-to-date, because there is a whole lot of reading you’ll be doing.

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