Swishy hair, swashbuckling swordplay, extremely tight bodices, buoyant boobs, and 17th century aristocrats that dual-wield pistols welcome you to North America's colonial period, as seen through the eyes of Korean game developers.
Sword of the New World: Granado Espada features a new take to the old standard of massively multiplayer online games with plenty of animals to kill, lots of letters to deliver, and a gazillion little children who've lost their mother/sister/brother/sheep. But, instead of having to either go solo or hunt for a group, in SotNW you command a squad of three characters right from the start.
That's right, three. Right away, we could create four different classes - with assurances that we would be able to expand our "family" to up to 14 - and after a brief tutorial, were able to bring three characters in right away.
The class choices are fairly standard: there are fighters, elementals, scouts and wizards to start out and various other classes waiting to be discovered in game. Each class must choose a "stance" to level in - basically creating a specific skill set.
Changing out characters is fast and can be done on the fly, meaning at higher levels the combinations of fighter/magic/healer are almost limitless.
One blemish we found while we were playing: the quest log didn't track when we had completed a quest. Combined with the fact that most quests can be vague when describing what you're supposed to do to complete them, the result was a lot of running around.
While an enjoyable and lavishly designed world, SotNW was markedly missing one aspect other MMOs enjoy: the massively multiplayer part.
The game is new, and there is not a huge player base yet. Unlike other MMOs, however, which foster a social community and create quest lines that require teaming up with other players early on, SotNW seems content to let people wander through the world at their leisure - the only conversation we've seen in-game was between the gold sellers (already!).
SotNW is available online and in stores, with a relatively minimal monthly fee of $8.95, which offsets the present absence of its massively multiplayer community. But even though the game is a bit rough around the edges, Sword of the New World: Granado Espada oozes with quirky personality that will appeal to fans of Asian-born titles, presenting a visual mash-up of anime and Baroque influences. If the game's off-the-wall presentation has piqued your interest, you can sample the free version, (which has level cap of 20). Hopefully the social aspect of the game, which is currently lacking, will pick up as more gamers try it out.