A View to a Thrill: The Secret World Gets the 007 Treatment

By adding a snowmobile shootout and a slinky temptress, The Secret World's newest episode channels a beloved British Secret Service spy.

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The sultry spy speaks to you in a Russian accent so bizarre that she is a caricature rather than simple archetype. "Such deadly toys," she proclaims. "Shall we break them, you and I?" She isn't yet willing to tell you her name, but should the two of you live to die another day, she's happy to offer her identity as a reward. Like any classic femme fatale, she drives a hard bargain.

As it happens, your new lady friend is a comfortable fit in the newest episode of The Secret World, appropriately titled A Dream to Kill. The episode looks to James Bond films for inspiration, not just by introducing a mysterious and comely companion, but also by putting you in control of a snowmobile and having you engage your foes as you zoom down a snowy trail. Bombs explode, snow flies, and rhythmic horns recall the adventures of the nonplussed 007, cool even under the heat of fire. And let's not forget the obligatory scene in which a highly charged laser beam inches its way towards the hero's crotch, causing you to cross your legs and wince in empathy.

Of course, this being The Secret World, there is an air of the occult pervading every moment. The scene in which you grimace as that lingering laser threatens to burn its way into your flesh also features a limping, juvenile grotesquerie that is put out of its misery in shocking fashion. Elsewhere, you enter a dreamscape, pursuing an ethereal figure across frozen pathways and down a seemingly endless hallway in which your own physique becomes more and more diminutive in relation to the lengthening corridor. Expect to encounter much of the uncanny imagery that makes The Secret World unique among online role-playing games. Gnarled faces, atmospheric distortions, and unsettling transformations are among the sights that disturb your view.

Much of the imagery relates to A Dream to Kill's themes. Children have been subjected to terrible experiments, and the imposing sight of numerous baby dolls casting long shadows on a nursery's walls makes for a heavy heart. These themes aren't just explored through imagery, however, but through computer terminal entries that outline the questionable ethics of the Orochi Group which (of course) is at the center of the conspiracy at hand. The soothing charms of a lullaby take on a sinister meaning, as do the generally good-natured charms of a simple emoticon, and even the cuddly delights of a teddy bear.

A Dream to Kill is heavy on exploration, atmosphere, and puzzle-solving, and light on combat, though to be sure, there is combat, including a heated closing battle, and skirmishes versus the lycanthropes of Romania's dark woods. Monsters don't just appear for fighting's sake, but relate to the story; facing off with a failed experiment has more meaning when you understand the sick and twisted circumstances that led to the showdown. At least you get to see this evil world burn by torching it with a flamethrower, The Secret World's newest auxiliary weapon. The game's core combat and movement still feel floaty and somewhat unsatisfying, but it's hard to deny the pleasure of watching fungal crawlers succumb to the blue flames of your burning rage.

But just as Mr. Bond often preferred subterfuge to direct contact, episode 7 prefers you to go the silent route on occasion. You solve some tricky (but not too tricky) puzzles and avoid the watchful eyes of security cameras as you slink through a secretive facility known as Hatchet Falls. How refreshing that The Secret World continues to hew its own path, building tension through storytelling, and requiring you to exercise brainpower rather than just tap some keys until things fall over dead. A Dream to Kill proves that there are innumerable revelations yet to be uncovered in this deadly and dastardly universe.

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Discussion

26 comments
megakick
megakick

I forgot about this game... Graphics look like PS3.

valium88
valium88

I've played it a bit since I got it for free (own some of the music featured in TSW) it was cool but I'm not much of a grinder. Now it's F2P I think? By all means try it out, nice game.

spikepigeo
spikepigeo

Such an intelligent, unique game. Shame that it wasn't polished upon release. However, in its current state, I think it's quite good.

northArrow
northArrow

I tried this game during one of their free weekends a few months ago. I didn't play anything beyond that. Combat isn't as immersive as GW2 (felt clunky and awkward), story telling isn't anywhere near as good as TOR, (surprisingly dull story, terrible voice acting/lip sync).

I wanted to like this game and deep down I still want to. My experience with it wasn't very good though and I'm not sure if I should give it another chance

highlanderjimd
highlanderjimd

most underrated game ever. Its a proper adult game, nothing sexual but it requires thinking and reasoning. Not the facemashing shit like WOW. Try it if you want to play a properly new game

GermanBomber
GermanBomber

The image with all the (naked?) babies is kinda creepy.

WarL0rdzz
WarL0rdzz

Too bad about the game, i loved the ideea of it so much I don't know what happend. Still bought the game... FunCom lost alot of money with this game... Hope Anarchy Online's new engine will bring Funcom to what it once was. Without AO, AoC and TSW wouldn't have been possible and it remains till this day one of the most unique and sofisticated game.

Onallion
Onallion

I really dislike the direction they're going with this game. It had so much potential, and such an original and mysterious world. But now it seems each new "issue" that comes out is some sort of weird gesture to classic film. The last one was Indiana Jones, this one James Bond...it's just really sad and uninspired. 

Zorine
Zorine moderator staff

So sad TSW did not do as well as they'd hoped it would. I really enjoyed it.

fredyellowone
fredyellowone

I wonder if someone will buy the 007 video game franchise.  Why not!

Errorcutive
Errorcutive

im starting to think gs being payed for this article........

starduke
starduke

Am I the only one who dodges during the intro to a Bond movie?

007 hasn't hit me yet.

sonyfreak456
sonyfreak456

Goldeneye 007 HD= Best First Person Shooter Based On A Movie.

oopomop
oopomop

I was thinking about giving this game a try again. Can anyone who /recently/ played it let me know how it is compared to launch? How is the pvp nowadays?

morespama
morespama

@megakick whats your rig? )) I got GTX660TI and TSW looks much better  than GW2 and other latest releases - I agree its not Planetside 2, thou. This game rules by the way...The problem with it is that even though its meant to be subscription-free, all new content is $10 per update which limits solo player RPG experience by a margin and given that pvp and fighting system are not better than in GW2 (for eg), its only the dungeons which make it fun once you complete the initial storylines (took me 6 months with easy pacing))) , but the server population is tangibly decreasing at the same time as well

Lambchopzin
Lambchopzin

@northArrow I disagree about the story being weaker than TOR, and I got tired of GW2 faster than TSW even though GW2's combat and PvP is undeniably better. I spent all of a month playing GW2, while I was able to squeeze 3 months of pretty hardcore play out of TSW. Granted, for an MMO you're usually expecting more longevity than either of these two games really provide (imo) but I got more out of TSW then GW2.

I'm sure part of that is me just being pretty tired of the genre, after having played City of Heroes for about 7 years. I don't know that I'm ever going to find another MMO that keeps me that long, and it's not the games fault so much as it is mine for being burnt out.

Act_Chill
Act_Chill

@Errorcutive They do make a living writing articles and running this website...If there is nothing great to  write about you still have to write about something...

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

@Errorcutive @oopomop

I've been noticed that VanOrd had a fondness toward Russian-themed games, MMOs, and Games that heavily emphasized toward storyline.

It doesn't surprised me if he wrote an article about 007 or a Secret World. =/ 

oopomop
oopomop

@Errorcutive 

I thought that too, but then again, isn't the whole idea about Gamespot and other game related news outlets to write articles about video games and various things that happen to them? I know that's why I still read Gameinformer. I care about what's happening with games; it's nice to know that they're still getting patches and what-not. 

Lambchopzin
Lambchopzin

@oopomop The PvP is underwhelming. It always has been. They've improved it a good bit but it's still not very good, and the actual population of active PvPers has steadily declined since launch. The open skill system, while cool for PvE min-maxers and allowing a lot of build flexibility, pretty much screwed over PvP.

That said I think the dungeons in TSW are still some of the best I've ever seen, and it easily has the best storytelling in an MMO. I'm not a regular of the game anymore but since they removed the sub-fee I dip back in every now and again. There isn't enough in the game to keep me playing everyday, but I always come back to do the new missions and keep up with the story.

Compared to launch the game is certainly better, a fair amount of added content and better stability, some nice quality of life stuff. It's still not going to be enough to grab most people for good, but I do think it's a nice game to dip back into every once and a while.

Zid96
Zid96

@Lambchopzin I only ask cuz i cant a yes or no on the net... Can you play it offline? With no net. I mean it's a MMO so you'd play it online. But i want to know IF it can be. I mean i know WoW can so im guessing it can.

Lambchopzin
Lambchopzin

@oopomop @Zid96 @Lambchopzin I essentially played TSW like a single player RPG outside of the dungeons and, because of how strong the story is and how interesting building a character is, that was enough to hold my attention for a while. Just something to consider. It's definitely an MMO that you can play like an SP game if you want and still enjoy quite a bit.

Obviously it can't be played offline, not sure why that would even be asked.

oopomop
oopomop

@Zid96 WoW cannot be played offline. At least legally, anyways. Likewise for /any/ mmo, as the genre itself is always online. 

@Lambchopzin  Thanks for the info. I think I'll hold off for a while - I just got the civ 5 expansion to play with my bro and I'm already playing PoE with my other friend. I'm not much into instances, I prefer to play alone or pvp with a group of people. I always feel pressured in pve content and I don't know why lol