Sword of the New World: Granado Espada (or just Granado Espada, as it's known in Korea) is the latest contender in a string of attempts to import Korean online games for western audiences. With the obvious language barrier and fair number of cultural differences in the way, requiring translation and sometimes changes to the game itself, it's definitely not an easy job. K2 Network has tried hard to adapt Granado Espada, translating it to English and adding some features such as extra outfit choices at character creation. Yet the underlying game remains the same, and it's Korean - very Korean.
As the name of the western version implies, the game setting is a fantasy version of 17th century Caribbean - muskets, swords and fancy costumes. There are also plenty of sorcery and supernatural monsters mixing things up, so the game doesn't stray that far from the usual high fantasy MMOs. Art is generally excellent, influenced by the Baroque era of Europe.
MMO, Korean style
Sword of the New World is apparently very popular in its native country. The man behind the game, Hakkyu Kim, also worked on the massively popular Ragnarok Online and, by that merit alone, Granado Espada is hailed as the next great masterpiece in the genre - at least by the Koreans.
However, the sad fact is that the Korean MMOs have not really broken through in the western markets. Both Lineage and Lineage II flopped horribly, and the only reason games like MU Online and Ragnarok Online retain a noticeable playerbase over here is simple - they are free to play, and tend to draw younger players who lack credit cards and don't really need complex gameplay to keep them interested. Diablo capitalized on a similar concept and made a truckload of money for Blizzard, even with very limited online capabilities. These days western gamers tend to ask for a tad more, and in this regard Granado Espada is a bit "too Korean".
Granado Espada is also not free to play. While you can try the game without monthly fee as long as you like, you are limited to the maximum level of 20, and that's reachable in a week or two. At that point your options are either to pay the 8.95$/month subscription fee, or start over with new characters as your existing ones are blocked from gaining any experience once they hit 20. With 100 levels to grind, being limited to level 20 is like being limited only to the kiddie pool. Useful for testing out the waters, but that's it.
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