HP Lovecraft meets The Walking Dead in this horror fantasy thriller. Only a month after celebrating its first half birthday, The Secret World announced it was removing its monthly fee and decreasing its initial price, making this game a steal at $30. As far as Massively Multiplayer Online games go, The Secret World appeals to a rather unusual crowd. The game focuses on storytelling and plot development rather than combat and dungeon raids. I just finished the first main plot line, and it took me nearly 3 weeks of constant playing. Nearly every mission is prefaced by several minutes of voice-acted cut scenes, experience debuffs are applied to missions above your level to encourage you to complete the story in order, and players are limited to a total of four missions at a time. All of this means that while there were several times I spent ten minutes wandering around looking for a quest I had passed only a half hour before didn't have room for at the time, I was fully aware of exact reason I had just finished hunting down a vicious Wraith.

The Secret World likes to mix things up to keep it interesting. Players are allowed seven active and seven passive abilities that can be chosen from a wheel of all the available abilities in the game, and you are only limited by the fact that you can only wield two weapons at a time. Mission types vary from the standard "go kill X of this enemy and retrieve this item", to searching with the in-game browser for obscure occult lore and puzzles that make Purdue students cry. Some complain that the game asks too much of players when it comes to thinking for yourself and that the story is over-developed and takes too much time to tell. If you're like me though, and a good story filled with monsters, magic, and characters with deep personalities is what you crave, The Secret World may be the game for you.

Overall I give this MMO 7/10 stars. Pros: great atmosphere, immensely detailed plot, versatile skill trees. Cons: Servers often get overloaded and have to reset, some puzzles are very nearly impossible, certain missions expect you to think so far outside the box that they are impossible unless you check an online guide.

In summary: this game requires a lot of time and patience, but if you are willing to sit through long cut scenes and spend a fair amount of time searching the Internet for advice, it's absolutely worth it.

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