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For all that, though, The Secret World succeeds as a thinking man's MMORPG. Many of its features demand intellectual prowess as well as the usual dose of combat mastery, and none of its competitors come close to matching its affection for the esoteric. It has its issues, to be sure, and all of the investigations and sabotage missions available won't stop a good amount of players from spending 20 minutes with its combat and dismissing it as a substandard World of Warcraft clone. That may be for the best. Much like Lord of the Rings Online, this is a game you play to savor the attention given to its world (beyond the cities) and the diverse cast of characters who inhabit it, and not so much for the challenges of its group content or the competitiveness of its PvP. Approached on those terms, there are few better MMORPGs on the market. Now The Secret World just needs to live up to Creative Director Ragnar Tornquist's promises of frequent and fulfilling updates, or risk shaking the thousands who share his visions into a reality of disappointment and boredom.
For now, I'm content to dream.
The Secret World has too many problems to function. When describing my experience to one of my friends, she asked me, (is it free-to-play?) I replied that even if it were, the cost would still be too high. Even simple things like the inability to hotkey health potions made me raise an eyebrow. And don't get me started on the pathetic excuse for a crafting system. I actually enjoy crafting weapons, but even after reading myriad forums and watching tutorial videos, it was still an utter waste of time.
After playing the game for over a month I haven't seen any serious signs of improvement. Quests remain buggy, graphics suffer and the core of the game is still as obnoxious as ever. MMORPGs occupy a crowded market of obsessive and dedicated gamers, and I don't see any of them leaving a variety of much better games for the pathetic softball Funcom has lobbed our way.
Strategy Informer, 8.0/10.
It's not my place to tell the future so I won't judge whether £11.49 a month was a bad idea or not (cough, it is, cough), but it is my job to judge whether The Secret World is a good game that is worth your money and time right now. It is, most definitely. I enjoyed exploring and the missions were always entertaining. You'll probably need at least one friend to buy the game and play some missions with you, but as superbly Funcom allow players to move their characters between servers at will (YES!) and join forces with players of a different faction (hooray!) this becomes very easy. That the playerbase is friendly and welcoming right now is just icing on the cake.