Well I couldnt resist. I went out and bought it. And now after reading it from cover to cover I thought I would post my opion. But first heres where im comming from. I have played RPG as a hobby since 1995 or so. Usualy weekly but sometimes more somtimes less. Although I had roleplayed before I was introduced to the hobby aspect through traveller the new erra. I liked the older you are more experianced you are aspect of the game but the rest was ho hum. AD&D I always found a bit silly and when I first started GMing in 1997 I could not keep a serrious tone to my game for more than a few sessions. I was then introduced to gurps and shadowrun both of which I still love though I have big problems with the shadowrun system and gurps is more fun when you use the advanced rules and the advanced rules are too complicated for my tastes at this time. D20 I am not a big fan of. The "offical" d20 rules are very unrealistic for a variety of reasons that im not going to go into yet. By offical rules I mean the free ones you can download of the wizards web page. These rules are the same as D&D 3.5. Any other version of d20 I concider to be house rules. I have read many d20 books hoping to find one that I like. I did in star wars. I feel that the star wars version of d20 has only a few minor flaws.
Ok heres the review. I took it home and made it to page 100 before the binding came apart. The book is still in one peice but its falling apart already. August Hahn did some research though which is something I really apreciate because with the exception of gurps most rpg books seam like the author saw a documenty on the discovery channel once. The Introduction was well writen but no masterpeice and the layout is easy on the eyes. There are several ways to generate your attributes and the stats go from 3-25 but only to 18 without cyberware or level advancement. Lifting and dragging are included right there with the attibutes and in what I concider an odd twist the Initiative and Experiance are explained there to. However the level advancement chart is not. Also the average game awards 400-600xp, which is really low compared to other d20 games.
The next section is jobs, not classes jobs. Its alittle like a specialization or sub class your character gets with prerequisits and bonuses. I found this part unnessasary but it did make the generic classes have more options. You'll also notice in this section that there are little paragraph stories to give you the cyberpunk feel throughout this book. The classless are talked about to. This is one of my major problems with every d20 system. The NPC classes for aveage joes get mabey a rank of 4 in a skill. This means that a farmer will not grow anything over 25% of the time on a relativly simple task. Im sorry but if farmers were that bad at farming they wouldnt be doing it. The books would have you believe that you dont have to role but if you look at there charts the base DC is 10 usualy for a normal everyday task. Personaly I have made all my NPCs level 7ish to reflect what I feel is a problem. The classes are really generic, the corp guy for example and only show up to level 10, though with xp at 600 thats probably ok. The pictures are nice but noting particualry dark. In fact with all the nipple through the shirt look and big breast I think they had teen boys in mind.
Skills and Feats are combind in the same chapter and seam pretty generic. Nothing overpowering at first glance but it may come out in playtesting. The finishing touches chapeter looks like a bunch of random charts about your character's lifestyle and opions. So again it has some intrest but it wasnt nessasary. The equipment chaper is well laid out with nice pictures and it even has the equvalent of shadowruns avaliblilty. Guns unfortunatly like most roleplaying games, do damage baised on the gun not the calliber or amunition and 9mm and 10mm do the same amout but the 10mm goes farther. Yes I said the 10mm goes farther, and has the same stoping power. Seeing how they are using real firearms you can simply look at the damage of a 9mm and distance then look on the internet for a 10mm and adjust it the way it should be. On an intresting note the guns use the size modifier same as melee weapons.
Now on to combat. Oh boy uh Im gonna keep this real short because I could go on for pages about whats wrong with it. Basicly its strait out of the OGL d20 of the wizards web site without any house rules. The only thing I like is the Defence rating change. Each class gets AC bonus basied on their level. The edge dice is a neat feature but still lacks the deadly quality. The mood of the book was quasi dark but using the combat system they have gives it a more superhero feel than the deadly dark streets I was expecting. The hazards chaper was again more charts and alittle mood. Narcotics were intresting but i think the focused more on how many pluses you get from a drug rather than what it does to you. But it does add to the dark flavor. Cybergear was nice with a couple of advertisements and differnt grades avalible but non of the gear was really cool, it was all rather generic with better grades giving better stats.
The Web is proably the most important part to get right in a cyberpunk game. And while they did a fair job in explaining it and getting you intrested in making a webrunner, it breaks down into another combat chapter. Which I personaly feel is unfortunate. It boils down to another set of combat rules to be memorized and used with DCs and rounds etc. One of my big complaints about shadowrun was how crunchy the matrix is. I dont enjoy having to stop the game to have a one on one with a player.
The last section is the advanced classes. Why they didnt make these normal classes I have no idea. Perhaps to force PCs to multiclass. Its nothing fancy just a bunch of little bit better classes. The character sheet is very square and I have a hard time finding things quickly on it. The Index is useful not because its a great index but because of the odd places you may find a rule. Theres alot I did not cover like cyberware cost to charisma and reputation but my final verdict is.
If you want a super hero cyberpunk world... yes
If you want a D&D game without the races and magic... yes
If you want a grity realisty cyberpunk game... NO!
If you want some cybernetics, gear, new classes for another d20 game... mabey
Personaly I plan on using it in my star wars or traveller d20 games as a cybernetics and drug referance...