Sword of the New World

We always thought our history lessons needed more monsters. If only John Smith had slain a demon or two, we might have remembered that he founded Jamestown. So when we heard about Sword of the New World, an MMO loosely based on the colonization of North America, we were intrigued. "Everyone's trying to build the WoW clone or the Oblivion clone, but no one's doing a Baroque style. [Sword of the New World] has a really unique look," says Grantley Day of K2. Sounds a bit bizarre? It is, but Sword of the New World 's anime-styled mixture of extremes works.

Aesthetically, the game successfully melds its 17th century setting with traditional high-fantasy flair. Dapper casters - that look more suited for a night at the ball than a dungeon - fling area-of-effect fire blasts, and gun-slinging dames in saucy bodices riddle demons with lead.

But besides its fresh look, Sword of the World looks ready to slice up stale standards of the MMO genre in all the right places. We were particularly interested in the game's rich character system. Unlike most MMOs, you don't just have a character; you have an entire family. In addition to the regular characters you can create, a wide assortment of unique-player characters (UPCs) can also be collected via quests and added to your bank of avatars.

And you don't just control one character at a time, you control three. This brings single-player RPG-style combat to the massively-multiplayer scene. Don't like squatting in the looking-for-group channel to find a healer? Just include one in your party and bask in the warm rays of heals and buffs while you focus on commanding your damage dealers. Ever feel like starting a new character without grinding your way up from step one? No problem. Just take your freshly minted adventurer out with your stronger family members and ride the experience train for quick levels.