Granado Espada/Swords of the New World/Sword 2 is an MMO that plays similar to a tactics game. The name of the game depends on which region you are in, but they are all the same game. You can control up to 3 characters at a given time. It reminds me of old squad based RPGs like Baulder’s Gate.
I'm not quite sure about the story of the game. It seems to take place during the Colonial Era, but that's about all I can gather from it. Your goal is to collect reputation for your “family”. The quests do not seem to be connected in any way other than referring you to another person.
The character models are fairly decent for a game of its age. The backgrounds and enemies are rather plain though. Character appearances do not change without the purchase of special items. Weapons change their appearance at least. Everyone using the same character types look the same. The instanced dungeons and their respective bosses are far more impressive compared to the generic enemies you encounter though.
At the beginning of the game, you have to name your "family". The family name becomes the last name of your characters, but you also give each character a first name as well. At first you only start with 3 characters, but you can create as many as your "barracks" allows you to hold. Each barrack allows for 9 characters, but your first barrack won't allow you to create all of them without the item mall. You only gain access to 4 character slots. The rest require you to buy item mall items. This proves to be a major problem later in the game.
There are 5 basic classes. They are Elementalist (Mage), Fighter (Warrior), Musketeer (Gunner), Scout (Cleric), and Wizard (Buffer but sort of Mage too). There are also a few dozen UPCs who are basically powered up versions of the existing classes and sometimes can obtain stances from two or more different classes. The UPCs are extremely specialized, but very powerful due to their increased stats. UPCs are recruited from card items that can be traded. Some are only available during events or from the item mall. Most are obtained from quests. While some of the item mall UPCs can be obtained in game, the drop rate for Shiny Crystals and Mysterious Powders quest are so low that it is almost impossible to obtain them without the item mall. Unfortunately, the same items are sometimes required for other more important things like upgrading your characters.
Each character levels up independently from one another, but gain exp as long as they are alive during the death of the monster. Characters also have different "stances" with different skills. Each stance has to be leveled independently. Stances have different skills and focus on a different aspect of that character's skills. Some stances are restricted to specific weapons. For example, the warrior has one that allows them to wield two swords which is a high offense stance, but they also have a sword and shield defensive stance and a 2 handed sword stance. Scouts also have a dagger and a healer stance. These options allow for diversity in the development of your characters. The game also encourages diversity, but you will often end up with 1 tank, 1 healer, and 1 range attacker unless you are doing something team based where you might make a specialized team for whatever you are fighting.
Combat is fairly straight forward with a point and click system. There are also some shortcuts. There is one that commands them to kill everything from here until their destination and one to defend the area. While the “defend this area” order was used for botting early on, their change to the system made it useless. They will only hold the area for about 10 seconds, not even long enough for a bathroom break. It has changed over patches, but has been reduced to the point where it is pathetic. Afterwards, they will run to the nearest "safe" area where there are currently no aggressive enemies, but will no longer defend themselves and are likely to get themselves killed. As long as 1 member of your team is still alive, the others will revive over time until you get to level 50. At that point, you either need a healer to resurrect them or to return to your barracks and add them to your team.
The main way to get around is through the way point system. It allows you to save warp points that you have found on the map and allows you to teleport to any of them from any of the other stones. It takes a very long time to get around so the way points actually help a lot. The only problem is that new players can easily get lost in towns so they have to spend some time finding the way points sometimes. Some NPCs are hidden indoors and you will not notice their quests until you go inside the building to check it out.
There are several problems with the game. The first is that it is grind heavy. Most of the interesting parts of the game are not accessible until high levels and there is little drive for players early on. Many of the UPCs are not obtainable until you are above level 50 with many requiring far higher levels, often 90+. Despite being a game with 100+ levels, this takes a very long time to accomplish and you will have to level up new characters all over again from either level 40 or 60 depending on which UPC you recruited onto your team. There are some faction war features, but I never made it far enough into the game to actually participate in them because they require you to be like 100+ to do them.
The second is that the extra barrack slots are only available in the item mall and with so many character options available, it would have helped to make more of them free. As it is, you basically have no spare room at all. One slot has to be reserved for a generic character to do certain quests. You need a slot for a character named Emilia to do quests to unlock some high level abilities. That leaves 2 slots for you to pick your team mates. Unfortunately, some stronger characters require you to have another UPC to unlock them and with only 4 slots available, this makes it ridiculously difficult.
The last problem is the significance of the item mall. This is annoying because they are often stronger versions of other characters already in the game and have access to more stances in addition to higher base stats. When your characters reach level 100 and you do the upgrade, you need to buy a special item from the item mall in order to give them a bonus 10 points of stats from the upgrade. 10 points does not seem like much, but this can mean 50 more attack if you put it into strength, a 10% boost in damage to some of the strongest level 100 warriors with upgraded weapons.
There is something called factions that are based on clans. Once in a while, they can fight each other and compete for certain areas called “Colonies”. The reward is a bunch of money from fees collected by NPCs. A clan leader can also be elected to become a faction leader.
The 3 character based style is something unique to this game. While it is interesting, it takes a long time to develop your characters. Most of the more useful abilities require you to obtain the stance book from rare drops and they can be hard to find. The UPCs are nice, but many players will never reach a high enough level to recruit most of them. Some of them are also only available during specific events that will probably never be repeated again.
5/10 - The grind is what really kills this game. It takes too long before the game actually gets "interesting" for most people. The severe character restriction is also problematic because there is no way to diversify your team without deleting another character.