Ars Technica Enters an Unfamiliar (Secret) World
Ars Technica recently published their impression of The Secret World’s gameplay demo at New York Comic Con. A fair review of the footage revealed, but some of the comments make me wonder how familiar the reviewer is with the MMO genre. I’ve read other articles in years past poking fun at the world of MMOs saying that the genre can become a parody of itself when a game takes itself too seriously, and I have to say I agree. By nature, MMO lore and questing challenge the suspension of disbelief; no village could possibly need 100 adventurers to each kill 15 boars a day. Pirates do not capture the same high-ranking officer’s daughter every five minutes. Demons and demi-god don’t respawn at regular intervals. Bad guys and good alike may have vapid lines they like repeating, but not twenty times in a three minute encounter. We get that. The silliness is part of the enjoyment for many, and the myriads of comics on the subject prove this.
Why, then, is it pertinent to point out these flaws in this game, a product of the 15 years of trope and tradition that came before it? None of the flaws pointed out in the review are unique to The Secret World. Ragnar and his team have managed to shed a lot of the cliches that have plagued the genre over the years, creating a new and (in my opinion) exciting interpretation of a fantastic genre. The AT review of Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s demo was far more positive despite the game doing no more than introducing the ME dialog wheel to a WoW-in-space motif. Heretic though it makes me, I admit I haven’t been overly impressed with BioWare’s recent output; I enjoyed ME1 and DA:O, but they did not provide the earth-shattering stories I’d heard about. As such, I can’t understand the hype around SW:TOR, and I’m disappointed that AT is incapable of seeing through the BioWare glitter to see the same flaws they identified in The Secret World.