Even if you don't care for massively multiplayer online games, you still might be interested in Tabula Rasa. If you enjoy them at all, you'll likely love it.
Tabula Rasa is the upcoming science-fiction MMO from NCsoft Austin, headed up by Richard Garriott. While there isn't even a firm release date scheduled – other than "the fall" – early beta-test versions of the game are already showing its potential.
You play a soldier in a war against the Bane. And while you're outfitted with the latest in space-age weaponry, the real power comes from Logos, the remnants of a language left behind by the ancient Eloh. You gradually learn to read the Logos, uncovering more of the story and combining the symbols to form powerful attacks. It's like if Luke Skywalker practiced kabbalah.
Like in most role-playing games, characters gradually evolve into specialized classes, either brute-force soldiers or specialists like technology builders and medics. What makes Tabula Rasa unique is that at each crucial point, you can choose to clone your character. If you get tired of being a grenadier, you can jump back to one of your clones and explore what it's like to be a sniper without having to build a character from level one. It would be nice if the clones were saved automatically, but it's still a helpful option to limit the need to constantly grind out levels for a new character.
I'm not normally a fan of MMOs. The statistic-based gameplay usually makes me feel like I'm just pointing and clicking without any real control over the character. Tabula Rasa's first-person-shooter-style controls at least make it feel like the player is in the driver's seat.
With immersive visuals and sound that unwind a carefully orchestrated storyline, Tabula Rasa's preview state might not be quite enough to sell me on massively multiplayer games, but out of all the MMOs I've played, it's already my favorite.