Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Adam Smith reports on his hands-on experience with Funcom's upcoming MMO The Secret World, trying to explain how his mixed feelings went away after actually trying the title. Here's a snip:
The first investigation mission I undertook actually required the use of Google, not in the game but on the actual computer I was playing on. Real world knowledge that I sorely lacked was required. It's at times like that, standing in front of a portrait and trying to figure out which historical painter's style it's mimicking, that I felt myself most absorbed. Even though I was tabbing out of the game to search the internet, I was in the game more than at any other time, because its whole philosophy is to blur the lines between the real world and The Secret World. They are one and the same and at that moment, they really were.
It's not just the investigation missions that form short stories though. All of the quests, even those that mostly involve biffing zombies, have enough dialogue and character to form interesting narratives of their own. Killing zombies isn't just a way to clear an area, it's a way to learn about how their biology works, with a full report sent back to Templar HQ. There's a purpose to everything.
Even taking a lunch break from the game proved enlightening (rather than quitting, you might want to just go to the church. The zombies can't follow you in there), spaketh one of the devs. Sure enough, the angry undead disintegrated at the threshold and my budding Templar rested there in peace while I scoffed down a baguette. They can't walk on holy ground, I thought to myself, but it was only later that I noticed the Illuminati symbols hidden in the stained glass. Questions, questions, questions.