Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Where's My Headset?

As a sign of how bad at Eve I am, this weekend I couldn't find my headset.  I have a solo style and usually just multi-box, which is how I got my last two kill mails.  The last time I used voice comms in a game was back when I flew in Eve University.  But I had two reasons for digging them out.  First is I know a DUST bunny at work and who knows if I'll need them now.  The second is some advice I read about The Secret World.

I don't remember the blogger, but he or she stated that The Secret World is a much better game with the sound on.  Games have sound?  Who knew?  So I resolved to turn off the tv, close down the podcasts and just let the sounds of The Secret World wash over me.  I put on my headphones and ran around the world, visiting London among other places to do an investigation mission.

Once I got my equipment working and all the drivers updated I realized what I was missing.  First, the sound is in stereo and the sounds are synced up to make it sound like they are coming from one direction or another.  For example when I walked between two Templars walking toward Temple Hall I heard the one on my right make a snide comment as I walked past.  The police sirens wafting occasionally in the background to make the place a more modern urban feel.  And the buzz of the bees as I exited the city into Agartha set the mood for the transition to another location a lot better than the explosion of yellow does alone.

I have to say that the sounds associated with combat are also good.  The sounds of zombies devouring dead bodies on the other side of a car lets players know where the danger is.  The sound of spent brass tinkling on the ground after firing a three-round burst from my assault rifle is a nice touch.  However I could use without the squishing sound when a zombie attacks me; it is kind of creepy.  But I do like hearing that final wisp of air leaving a zombie's body when I kill one.

I do have to give Funcom credit for their use of music as well.  When travelling the music doesn't get in the way of hearing your own footsteps along the road or crows cawing in the distance.  During a battle the music builds with the intensity of the fight giving the feel of something epic since fighting five zombies at once should give some sense of accomplishment.  Overall I think the choice and use of music is well done.

I know that Eve has sound.  From the bopm of my 1400mm howitzers firing to Aura saying "Warp drive active" to the soundtrack Eve has some memorable sounds.  But The Secret World goes to a whole different level in using sound to help immerse players into its world.  I used to just worry about the gameplay and the visuals but now I'll have to listen to a game before turning the volume down to pay attention to other things.


  1. Watching TV while playing interesting video games? You should be ashamed ;-)

    Isn't it all old and/or boring stuff on tv? the same old stories over and over again (some exceptions of cause).

    But you really should play games more often with sounds than without. even if you tune them down a bit to hear your podcast. Especially in games with more "direct" sound like TSW.

    Playing a game with sounds turned off is like watching a musical without the music. You could also do with silent TV. A great part of the impression gets lost without sound. in some cases even just without music and the rest of sound turned on.

    Ever tried to imagine the lord of the rings (movie) without music? would be a pretty bad experience.

  2. I don't use sound with Eve. It is because of voice coms. Logging in to coms and joining fleets and listening to instructions gets frantic at times.

    I do listen to sound in all of my other games. I like Eve's sounds but I hate wearing my headset passively and I am to lazy to hook up speakers. Last time I did I had a constant confusion between headset and speakers that drove me nuts.

    I do NOT like coms coming out of my regular speakers.

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