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My Secret Addiction
Okay, if you follow me on Twitter, it’s not so secret after all. I have fallen hard into the depths of The Secret World. I played several of the Beta Weekend events. I liked it. There was just something about it that intrigued me. It was that “something different” I’ve been looking for in an MMO. But it just didn’t seem enough to pull the trigger and buy it at release, not with the release of Guild Wars 2 hot on it’s tail.
After the last GW2 beta weekend event, I found myself really excited for GW2. And really… bored. I’ve been on much of a gaming hiatus for about the last 21 months. For those who don’t know, I have a new baby. During the first trimester, I simply couldn’t game because it gave me motion sickness. Then after that, I simply had little time to game. I gave Skyrim and ME3 a shot. Both games are unfinished. I gave the old college try to SWTOR, but simply had little time for it.
So perhaps this is just a case of “the right timing”. The baby is a year old now and has a more regular schedule. She also will occupy herself a little bit more now (she’s sitting in the floor playing while I write this, with only a few shooing away from my laptop incidents). I blame Twitter for my eventual collapse to peer pressure. All my Twitter Tweeps were absolutely beaming about how great is TSW.
I bought it a week ago and have no regrets. The premise is that every urban legend, every story about the boogie man you have ever heard is, in fact, true. There is a whole hidden world out there. You have been recruited to join in the fight against this evil. And, depending on your faction, you have different reasons for going out there amongst the walking dead.
After the initial tutorial cut scene that shows how you were recruited into your faction, everyone starts out in the same starting area. Kingsmouth Town. It’s a poor small town in New E ngland that has been beset by zombies and other foul creatures. You are thrown right into the mix, asked to help rid the area of some of the unfortunate townsfolk that have been transformed.
It is by no means standard MMO quest fodder though. The difference lies in that there are no quest hubs with shiny “click here for a quest” symbols above NPC heads. Some missions you stumble upon. Box of squid, you say? Let’s see where this goes. Oh, a severed arm. Who does this belong to?
Certain missions are given via cut scenes. And they are quite well done. The voice acting is good and the story better. In fact, I’ve found myself drawn into the story much more than I was with SWTOR. That is not a slam against TOR by any means. I liked the story there as well. I simply like this one better, at least so far. Perhaps it is because The Secret World story is an open book whereas TOR had the immense Star Wars universe as its backdrop. While I love the Star Wars lore, I do also know more about it and it was much easier to predict what would happen next.
There is far more to the game than just slicing and dicing up some putrid corpses for missions. Certain missions require you to, gasp!, use your brain. These are called puzzle missions. Some are more easily solved than others. Others, well, TSW gives you an in game browser for a reason. You will use Google at some point most likely. Another type of mission requires you to use “finesse and subterfuge” to achieve your mission goals. For instance, sneaking around the airport where if you are caught, some men in black type folks will zap you with stun guns and you see nothing but your feet as you are dragged off the property.
There is reward for exploration by finding hidden lore or missions you may not otherwise have found. There are instances, although that is one area I have not yet ventured. I have heard some complain that combat is “bland”. Perhaps it can be considered that. For me personally, it has not been an issue because I see it as almost secondary to the rest of game play.
There are lots of hidden goodies. Go through the covered bridge in Kingsmouth once while alive and once while dead and you’ll see what I mean. There are references to sci fi and horror pop culture here and there. They have done a great job with the music and sound effects. Like any good horror show, you know something is about to go down when you hear the ominous music and the ground starts shaking. A few missions have been downright creepy. They have also gone to great lengths to add some “reality” to the game. Just check out the Kingsmouth, Maine webpage for an idea.
All in all, I would recommend this game. Even if you aren’t into the X-files or Stephen King, it can be fun and immersive. I’m really into neither. I’ve watched enough X-files only to know who the main characters are. I’m not much of a horror fan these days. I had to Google Lovecraft to find out who he was (don’t judge me). Funcom promises monthly updates and have delivered their first on July 31. Will it be enough to entice long term play? Only time will tell. But for now, the future looks full of zombies and other things that go bump in the night.