Trio of MMOGs raid retail

Pirates, demons, and aliens all go massively multiplayer as Pirates of the Caribbean Online, Hellgate: London, and Tabula Rasa launch this week.

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Once upon a time, gamers had the choice of either high fantasy or alternate fantasy if they wanted to play a massively multiplayer online game. And although it is certainly the case that the fantasy genre still dominates the MMOG market, several new games released this week aim to add a bit more spice to one of the fastest-growing sectors of gaming.

On the family-friendly front, Disney Online has released Pirates of the Caribbean Online. Inspired by the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced summer blockbusters, which themselves took root from the classic Disney theme-park attraction, the MMOG lets aspiring swashbucklers captain a ship, steal booty, slay undead, and otherwise build a legend as the most well-intentioned knave on the Seven Seas. The game is available for both the PC and Mac. Players can play for free in a limited-access, ad-supported version of the game, with full access being granted for a first-month fee of $4.95 and a $9.95 charge each month thereafter. It is rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older.

Playing off of the ghoulish frightfest that is (or at least used to be) Halloween, Flagship Studios has opened up Hellgate: London this week. Hellgate seeks to join first-person shooter gameplay with role-playing game character building. The M-for-Mature-rated game, which experienced a degree of technical difficulty with its online servers initially, is playable in both single-player and multiplayer modes after its initial $49.99 purchase (a $59.99 collector's edition is also available). The game can also be upgraded to an elite subscription account at $9.99 a month for further massively multiplayer functionality. A free trial of the single-player portion of the game is currently available for download.

The launch sequence for Richard Garriott's "blank slate" sci-fi MMOG Tabula Rasa also engages this week. Not unlike Hellgate, Tabula Rasa seeks to marry the fast-paced action of shooters with the complexity of RPGs, while indiscriminately laying waste to hordes of invaders. Available in both $49.99 standard and $69.99 collector's editions, Tabula Rasa requires a recurring monthly subscription fee of $14.99 after the first 30 days.

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