Sword of the New World: Granado Espada PC Review

Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG for short) are a huge business nowadays. The genre has been rapidly increasing over the years. Every company wants to get in on the trend, especially when you hear about Blizzard’s World of Warcraft hitting over nine million subscribers (that’s a lot of money), and it doesn’t seem to be stopping there.

Sword of the New World was actually released last year in its native country of South Korea, under the name of Granado Espada. Beneath the countless barrages of Korean MMORPGs, Granado Espada managed to pick up some trophies at the Korean Game Awards, including best game. K2 Network is hoping the uniqueness of Sword of the New World will bring them success in the European market. Did someone just say a unique MMORPG on the market? Holy cow!

The South Korean version of the game was actually free to play, and to some extend it is over here as well. Users interested may download the client and play the game up to level 20 with some restrictions included. After that you may upgrade to the premium account, which is a monthly subscription of $8.95 per month (about £4.50 at current exchange rates). There might be some confusion as recently the Korean version has released an English beta of Granado Espada. K2 Network has said that Sword of the New World will be going in a different direction than to Granado Espada and will be worth the monthly fee. This means plenty of new things in updates to come that won’t be in Granado Espada, woo! We like new things.

While playing the game you can see that Hakkyu Kim, the guy who created Ragnarok, another highly popular MMORPG, was trying to make Sword of the New World different. One of the first things you’ll notice is the Multiple Character Control (MCC) system, a fancy word meaning that you can actually play as three characters at a time, instead of the usual one. This is something that hasn’t been tried before and the game is heavily built around this. The player doesn’t have to make a team of three, but playing as one character is pretty much impossible as there are so many enemies you’ll just end up getting pummelled all the time.

First thing you must do in Sword of the New World is create a family name. This is the surname for your characters, as when you actually get down to creating your family, you give them their first name along with their class and gender. Logging into the game sticks you straight in your family barracks; this is your home for the characters you create. You can generate more than three characters, so you don’t have to worry about missing out on the other character classes. There are five character classes available to you. These consist of Fighter (the general melee attacker), Wizard (highly powerful magic user), Musketeer (gun user), Scout (healer and buffer) and lastly the Elementalist (magic users of elements). One of the reasons why the MCC system stands out is because you can chuck whatever classes together. You no longer have to go on a hunt (which in some MMO games can feel like a quest on its own) to find that missing class to add to your party, just stick that class in your trio and you are on your way.

The UK server I adventured on was rather quiet; it’s probably because the game wasn’t out in stores when I was playing it. People I did see didn’t seem to want to talk, so wanting someone to help is pretty hard to get. It’s not like people aren’t interested because there are plenty of people speaking on the official/fan websites (great places to get help on missions, damn that rebel mission!). They’re probably all playing on the USA server at the moment.

Disappointingly the game doesn’t really offer that much of customization when creating characters, in fact it is really restricted. Either sex is selectable in all five classes, but that’s about all you are going to get in physical appearance of the human body. No face, legs, arms or body modifications here, sorry guys, this means no super sized breasts you all dreamed about. The game does allow you to fit the characters with stylish clothes, giving you a decent selection for the fresh hero/heroine. The game emphasises on this a lot because it prefers to flash off your clothes rather than armour. Armour isn’t shown at all on your characters, which is somewhat disheartening because everyone likes to flash off their new item, particularly when it’s a rare one. Instead you’ll just have to go to some of the clothes shop in town and buy new styles of clothes that become available to you as you gain stronger. But don’t fret as weapons and other items are still visible.

The handling of three characters is easy to get to grips with. This is mainly due to you actually only moving one of them, called the leader, and the rest simply follow. Players can select the leader on the fly by clicking on their details at the bottom of the screen. Character movement isn’t controlled by direction keys, it’s all point and click based, click an area and watch your team run to the place you pointed at. Since you only take control as one, the rest are controlled by AI, which works surprisingly well. If you just leave the AI as it is, they will attack whatever you click on. There are plenty of settings to tell the AI what to do, you can let them attack everything in its path, pick up everything, even have the Scout focused on healing while you go around kicking arse and taking names. The controls have shortcuts for pretty much everything, so if you’ve got a good memory, you can just have the AI do different spells by pressing the hotkey for it, it saves you the hassle of having to keep swapping leaders every time you want to cast something. At first it can seem a little complex as there is a row of keys for each character, but like most things, after time you get use to it and it becomes second nature.

One thing I had a problem with while starting the game was the way the training was handled for first time players. You start on a ship and talk to a character that teaches you basic movement controls. After promoting some standard pirate stereotype (got to love rum eh?) you are sent to the starter town and have to go around talking to all the characters to learn about the different controls. It took a long time to get all the info I needed from the tutorial guys and even then I still wasn’t sure about some of the things. Later on I found that reading the help section in the game was much quicker and easier than doing it the games way.

Setting wise, Sword of the New World enters the user in a historic time period, 17th century exploration, hence the New World in the title. The land you explore looks beautiful, crisp and colourful. It may not be flashing off some new fancy Direct X 10 effects but it does manage to be nice because of the art style. It has this lovely olden times vibe going for it.

The story starts you off as a family arriving at Granado Espada (that’s the newly discovered land) with a given task of helping to solve some of the tension that is happening in the country. This translates into killing monsters, oh yes, lots and lots of monsters, and rebellious humans with intent on causing mayhem. To help take down these monsters each class has a vast selection of stances. Stances are categories on how your character fights. Things like Duel wielding, Hack and Slash, Psychokinesis and Assassin are just some. Each stance has its own unique move list, so there’s plenty to learn and master. The user interface is clear on what moves you have and a simple click is all it needs to use them.

Fighting monsters probably take up half of the missions available to you. You get a lot of “find and kill so many types of X monsters” missions from random people, mainly nothing to do with the story; they are there just to get some extra experience and bonus items. It’s not just finding 5 or 6 though, monsters aren’t anything rare in this game because these guys want you to find 150 or 200 monsters and slaughter them too. It will take some effort, but it’s not like you fight them one at a time. The game is full with critters, so you’ll always find yourself swamped with 4 or 5 of the gits. Battles are over pretty fast because of the MCC. Three characters can hammer a monster in seconds, so fights don’t really often last any more than a second of two. It is very fast paced for a MMO title. If you happen to die then there isn’t any penalty as such for failing to protect yourself (and all your fellow countrymen too!). Just wait a minute or so for your character to be resurrect with half of its health points returned, or get your scout to learn resurrection, a faster and easier way instead.

Another section that is highly popular with MMORPG gamers is Player vs. Player, or PvP as it’s more knowingly called. Some servers in Sword of the New World allow you to randomly attack other players, but if killed you do face a penalty of losing experience. If you’re scared of that, you may request a battle with a family that can take place in the arena. Battles here don’t come with any fees for losing the fight. If larger scale is your thing then clans and even religions (always a reason to fight!) may scrap with each other. If you aren’t the killing kind then there are other activities for you. Subscribers can use the market seller to flog their findings so other people can bid on it. This is a good way to make some money if you can get hold of good items, or if so be it creating your own with recipes you come across. Job titles don’t exist in Sword of the New World so crafting feels like a small side quest, rather than something you have to work long and hard to become an expert at.

If you aren’t already busy playing a MMO, or are interested in Sword of the New World, then it is recommended to go and try the free download first. The game isn’t trying to get new people in to the genre; it’s just supplying something different to existing MMO players. The world is lush and the music is pleasurable. The soundtrack is really well produced, maybe one of the best in the genre going at the moment, you’ll find yourself humming along to some of the themes.

If you can handle the countless enemies and get over the little niggles that the game has, you will find an amusing and different experience that could be worth your time and maybe even your life.

If you can handle the countless enemies and get over the little niggles that the game has, you will find an amusing and different experience that could be worth your time and maybe even your life.

7 out of 10