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Jason Panella

The Secret World

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Amazon currently has The Secret World on sale at 50% off until July 4. I thought, why not give it a whirl?

I'm glad I bought it. The Secret World is a "pay to own" massively multiplayer game, which is unlike the traditional subscription model (the one World of Warcraft uses) or the newer "free to play" model that lots of games now use (and hope to get money through in-game transaction). The Secret World is also different than the standard fantasy or sci-fi MMOs because of it's setting and theme: the game is heavily influenced by H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, Stephen King's fiction, The X-Files, crack pot conspiracy theories, and the Indiana Jones movies. It's quite a stew, but after playing the game for a few hours, it really works. Another plus: there is a ton of voice acting in the game, and by good voice actors (unlike some games, which seem to pull dudes off of the street to record stuff).

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Over two months later and I'm still hooked. This has some of the best voice acting I've heard in a video game. And, unlike a lot of other massively multiplayer games, there is a really friendly, supportive community. I usually shy away from randomly teaming up with people in these types of games, but not here—people are openly friendly and helpful.

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One of my friends raved about much fun he had with that game. I can't do MMOs anymore. They're too time-consuming for me and I never feel like I can find one I can play for 30 minutes or so and put down and feel like I made some progress.

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One of my friends raved about much fun he had with that game. I can't do MMOs anymore. They're too time-consuming for me and I never feel like I can find one I can play for 30 minutes or so and put down and feel like I made some progress.

I understand that. I've played MMOs on and off for years, and I've never been able to dump tons of time into them. Lord of the Rings Online is really easy to pick up and play for a short bit. Secret World does it well, especially with its "dungeons" — they're designed for groups of five and built so you can zip through one in 20 minutes or less while still being challenged.

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MMOs like to do seasonal events, and Halloween is usually one of the biggest. While it's kind of jarring in some games (Real-life holiday in a fantasy world?), it totally works in something set in the "real" world like TSW. The game debuted its 2013 Halloween stuff over the weekend, and it's pretty incredible. One of the game's non-playable characters decided to ask a number of the game's more memorable characters to contribute ghost stories or urban legends to a short story anthology. Your character is tasked with investigating these stories to see if they're real (in a game like The Secret World, of course these tall tales are real). The ten new Halloween-themed missions are pretty easy, and all follow some well-known urban legends (the killer email, kidney thieves) with a twist. But to get each quest, you have to read the stories themselves. All are pretty excellent, and some are down-right creepy. One in particular, about an eerie groundskeeper at the game's Lovecraft-influenced private school, was the perfect sort of thing to read on a chilly October night. Bravo, developers, bravo.

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