|Release: July 3, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Use of Drugs, Violence|
Those who prefer to play in groups have options as well. Thus far, I've spent most of my time exploring The Secret World as a lone wolf, but I found PvP matches easy to join. There are "fight clubs"—areas of the map where everything is allowed—as well as several locations that host three-way battles between the factions. There is also a "Warzone," a factional battle that continues 24/7. Because the goal is to control various facilities, the Warzone offers a variety of tasks for individual players to accomplish (such as capturing the respawn points and killing enemies). There are also, of course, well-designed dungeons to raid with companions.
The Secret World makes a few other tweaks to the MMO formula as well, with mixed success. One feature I initially loved is that you can complete a quest by "sending a report"—a single click of a button—instead of hoofing it back to the quest giver to get your reward. The problem is that you still need to return to the quest giver if you want another quest, so I'm not sure this saves too much time. In fact, quest management in general is kind of a pain here—rather than letting you take tons of quests and finish them as you see fit, the game limits you to a small number and never displays more than one on the minimap at a time.
Another questionable feature is that instead of giving players a single huge world to explore, The Secret World is divided into several sections that you can access through portals. This is unavoidable in this case—there's no way for a single game to cover the entire real world, obviously—but it takes away from the sense of scale a little. Further, the developers tried to mix it up in terms of quests, handing players all sorts of bizarre tasks like finding hidden insignias, solving elaborate puzzles that involve searching the Internet, and even infiltrating locations by stealth—but sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what you're supposed to do.
Also, there's still no good way to die in an MMO; in The Secret World, just like most of the others, you simply respawn at a nearby point without losing any progress.
The graphics are a high point here. This is easily one of the best-looking MMOs on the market, complete with DirectX 11 features and an advanced anti-aliasing technology that will be added by patch soon. Unfortunately, however, the facial animations come straight out of the Uncanny Valley, so that's something the developers might want to improve with future updates—especially considering that it brings down the voice acting, which is top-notch.
I also noticed plenty of bugs, both visual and otherwise. Most annoyingly, I experienced a couple of crashes, as well as one glitch that made it impossible to equip items from my inventory. (Every time I right-clicked an item, the game placed the name of the item in my chat box. The solution: Press Control-B to bring up the bug-reporting menu, then close it. And then wait for it to happen again, because it will.)
Every MMO has a rocky launch in some way or another, though. On the whole, The Secret World is an amazing experience that's easily worth your $50, especially if you're willing to spend a lot of time on it during your free one-month subscription. Whether it will be worth its subscription fee after that remains to be seen. Only time will tell whether a large community will develop around this eerie and fascinating universe.
Date: July 5, 2012