• Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A bee, a mummy and a freedom fighter walked into a bar...

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I've just finished my play-through of the latest storyline content for The Secret World (Issue 6: The Last Train to Cairo) and I'm still buzzing from the experience. Funcom have really kept up the stunning quality they delivered in Issue 5, giving a new storyline that sees you involved with environments and mechanics I've not seen in an MMO before along with a fun and involving story. There will necessarily be some spoilers in the following discussion.


The new storyline took about four hours to play through and introduced some fun new mechanics into the game. Highlights included a section where my character was captured and had all their equipment taken, necessitating a daring escape that required both sneaking and hand-to-hand fist fights. It was really fun having to dodge and block my opponent, catching them with quick jabs and powering up left or right hooks when the opportunity arose.

The final fight against a huge, burly wrestler was amusing and very reminiscent of the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy took on the boxer under the taxiing airplane. In fact much of the content was full of subtle allusions to the Indiana Jones films, but in a way that homaged rather than parodied and never came across as too cheesy.

It's not really a spoiler to say that the new storyline involved time travel (as this was highlighted in all the pre-release articles), but I was surprised and entertained by the way in which the story required me to manipulate things in the distant past in order to effect changes in the present. It was a nice storytelling technique I hadn't seen in an MMO before, and also gave me the opportunity to meet some old favourite characters in the full bloom of their youth.



Initially I found the new story content quite difficult, until I realised that when a quest requires you to pick up a crate of landmines it's a pretty good hint that you may actually need to use them! Once I'd slapped myself for being so dense the content became quite a bit easier (easier in relative terms, TSW is still more challenging than most MMOs), but no less fun. The involvement of two of my favourite characters from the game (Saïd and Nassir) was made more enjoyable by the great writing and the comedy bromance that sprang up between these most unlikely of allies. I'd love to see more of their adventures together.

Saïd and Nassir make a great odd couple

The final set piece didn't disappoint. Racing through, along the top of, and along the side of a speeding train as cultists threw themselves at me was just brilliant fun (and actually quite difficult at times). This long section was improved by the addition of mini-set pieces such as flaming carriages, the opportunity to use a tank, dodging signs and cables as the train sped through a tunnel and a really tough final fight against an old rocket-launcher wielding adversary.

By the end of the adventure I'd acquired my bullwhip and started my collection of Indiana Jones style clothing.


I really hope Funcom can keep the quality levels they have set in the last two Issues up, because they both show more imagination and new, fun mechanics than most MMOs manage in their entire game content. I'm really looking forwards to playing through the James Bond inspired content of Issue 7. I think the biggest compliment I can pay is to say I'm more than happy to keep subscribing (despite the game moving to a non-subscription option) whilst the content of the regular updates is kept to such a high quality.

Here's a few more screenshots of my time on the last train to Cairo.









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