DriveThruFiction.com
Browse Categories







Back
Other comments left by this customer:
Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Dirk L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/14/2015 16:37:28

This is what a Shadowrun novel should be like.

Shaken tells a story in the life of PI/vigilante/runner Jimmy Kinkaid, a near-burnout street mage with an attitude, the mentor to match, and the hots for his ally spirit. This alone all but guarantees I like this book. But it's narrated interestingly, the protagonist is appropriately biased, the book does give him is share of sucker-punches - and I really like the narrative flow, even if it may seem a little slow to some. It's not Michael Bay, it's Fargo. It's a voyage through the decrepit, broken world of Jimmy Kinkaid and damn, it's a nice ride.

The best part about this novel - and I'm saying this on top of excellent immersion, well-written characters, and similar world-building - is the fact it is very Noir, very hard-boiled, without neglecting typical tropes and elements of cyberpunk in general and Shadowrun in particular. Jimmy Kincaid is the archetypical Noir protagonist - an anti-hero, a broken, damaged man, struggling as best as he can to stem both the darkness of the world around and the darkness within himself. It also has a detective story, well-executed twists and turns, and a well fleshed out world that is a protagonist in itself (I'm such a sucker for off-hand brand drops), it has an unreachable femme fatale (with a twist that resonates popular fandom jokes without being obnoxious about it - a feat to pull off in itself), well-scaled action scenes and a resolution that, while satisfying for the reader, may not entirely be for the protagonist. Classic.

Now, I've always felt Cyberpunk was more Noir in the digital age than Science Fiction. In Cyberpunk, for all that technology and exotic-hypermodern surface gloss, the heart of the story is deeply human - it's about alienation, about handling the invasion of life by technology, about losing one's self by replacing oneself with technology. It's made of tales of the human condition, much more in the tradition of American Gothic (which largely shares Cyberpunk's neophobia) and Romantic literature than classic Science Fiction with it's libertarian, modernist technophilia that sees technology as the salvation of mankind (Transhumanism would fit the same technological niche Cyberpunk occupies with a more traditional Science Fiction narrative). With its heavily Noir attitude, using most, if not all, classic tropes, and its adherence to classic Noir tales, Shaken (no Job too small) is all I could have asked from a Shadowrun novel, and much more - it could (and would deserve to) stand on its own as a work in Cyberpunk, rather than be considered 'just' a francise book. It's made of the best the world of Shadowrun has to offer, in a way that hasn't been around since the passing of Nigel Findley (in the same way Harebrained Schemes' writing does when at the top of their game).

A great one. If you want to buy any Shadowrun novel to get into this rich and weird world, make it this one.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruFiction.com Order

Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Dirk L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/14/2013 11:08:30

Review also appeared on the author's deviantart (http://canray.deviantart.com/journal/So-what-have-I-been-up-to-359384984) and www.dumpshock.com.

Okay, so let's start with the title image. The image not only looks sweet, it also hammers home the topic of the file. It shows off, but not with seminude babes (which bore me by now, more than anything else) but with hilarious simsense Johnny Spinrad-esque orc versus RL ork bum. The interior art also is quite impressive. AAS is fast becoming THE artist for Shadowrun in this era, much like Mike Jackson and Geier were in early SR. Not that the others are shabby, but he gets the feel I want Shadowrun to have best, I think. And all the detail that's speaking to dedicated fanboys like me.

The opening story is fantastic and pretty much ... well, it deals with the one thing that defined SimSense craziness for me, early on, back when 2E was new and I had just spent two weeks' worth of pocket money on 2XS. It's just a throwaway sentence in that book, and yet it has stayed with me through all these years. This story is the story of that sentence. And it's written in a way, with tone and flavor, that is worthy of Nigel Findley.

Generally, this details the SimSense and BTL usage as I have done for myself, which I of course like. I'm probably biased here, but I think that's a logical expansion on what has been written, and especially the therapeutic SimSense used to 'resocialise' criminals and addicts I have already used, as a private expansion on what SimSense can do. Also, CGL, you totally owe me brain bleach for Hannibelle's comment on snuff beetles.

As aways with Croteau's writing, it's the little details that get me. Victor Vigilante, the intro-fic referencing that one half-sentence from 2XS, the sheep. Hell, I'd pay if he wrote a "runs gone bad" PDF! I feel that, among the current writers, he is among those who most "get" Shadowrun as I love it (and kudos for the Molly Millions shout-out). Also, he's so far the only author whose /dev/grrl writeups make me actually kinda like her. AAS' fantastic art full of inside jokes (Neill!) is the icing on this delicious epub cake. Old Art has seen re-use too, but thoughtfully; the Bunraku pic is among the best Chernik did for SR, and the down-and-out junkie is the weakest art but at least fits in thematically.

The addiction qualities are varied, reasonably balanced, and flavorful. I know a character who has two of them out of hand, and I certainly will use them as soon as I can. That's what the system has been missing, far more than yet another combat rifle, stats for great dragons or Charm of Nurgle, the spell. As with the additional lifestyle qualities of Safehouses, this adds flavor instead of more items of +2. The new addiction list and the simsense-based drugs price list also add to the game, I think.

Some small dark spots cannot be ignored, though they're a wide trend with CGL products. There are typos, more than one, and sometimes glaring. Proofing apparently wasn't effective enough. Neither was editing, some sentences look positively mangled. If editing even happened, this looks a bit like handed in close or slightly over deadline and just handed down to layout for production without any editing happening because a bad product still sells, while editing takes time that could be put to use making more sub-standard product instead.

9/10, with one point below perfect for the nonexistent editing and bad post-writing treatment CGL seems to consider business standard by now. I rounded up for the local review because, well, it's still damn good.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruFiction.com Order

Shadowrun: Parazoology
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Dirk L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/05/2011 19:17:01

The art is the first thing that met my eye when reviewing this. It's just bad, from a technical standpoint (the intention isn't half bad a couple of times, but the execution ... ...). The real bad pieces - Sea Wolf, this means you! - aren't in the preview, you have to pay for them.

The writing itself isn't so bad, it's fun to read actually, and written well, even though it could use some polish here and there. Shadowtalk is missed though, but probably was cut due to space constraints. Some stuff seems a tad superfluous - what, 2 more Gryphon species? Now there are six - Gryphon (since SR1 base book) Asian Gryphon (since SR1 base book), Opinicus (since Paranormal Animals of Europe), Hippogriff (since Predator&Prey) and now Criospinx and Hieracospinx? That's ... making the Gryphon the topmost varied awakened species on the planet, surpassing Dragons and metahumans (both with five main variants). Intentional?

Other stuff is a fun addition, like the evil sea elephant, the sidebar with awakened insects (I'm a sucker for such flavor), the Echeneis (which I am so gonna convert to an awakened Plecustymus catfish for Amazonia) or the gold falcon (finally something worth poaching that will not require a tank to kill!). And the Mongolian Death Worm, a classic long missing from SR paranimals (and Tremors sense! SR needs more shout outs to B-Movies classics). Why not add a Jenny Haniver though? Ah, but at least someone googled Parazoology while writing this. So the writing's the good part of this. Some critters are usable. Some even have me want to use them. Not bad in itself.

What Mr Large really needs is someone to help him with the rules bit - issues, mainly missing powers crucial to the animals described in the text (accident for the Alicanto, Influence for the Gyre, Accident for the Moon Dolphin, ect ...). This has shown in all PDFs of late, and it's not good. Given CGL has an all-but-officially-official no errata be released, ever policy, there needs to be more attention to getting it right the first time, at least. At least the poor fish have gills now, we gotta be thankful for the small things too.

Also, why is the ToC at the end and why is the content not alphabedically soted if the ToC is? Weirdness. Why is there no introductionary writeup again?

Final impression: The file looks like it could have been a lot better than it came out. Pity, just when things started to pick up again on that front. Still, it's no total loss. I miss shadowtalk, though. It's important for the feel of shadowrun products.

3/5.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Parazoology
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruFiction.com Order

Shadowrun: Gun Heaven
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Dirk L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/05/2011 18:59:48

Ok, let's have a look at this.

I disapprove of this presentation of errata, but at least it's not too expensive and come with more gear, despite the quite insulting Errata delivery, being hidden in a pdf product like this (it's bad customer service, at the very least). Also, there are several other problems with this product.

It introduces two new qualities - incompatible and vintage - that roughly do the same as the obsolescent/obsolete qualities of This Old Drone. So far so good. It also introduces a new weapons category, some new add-ons, and new rules issues. And it sneaks in an errata for an old issue.

The art ... is about 60% photomanipulations, it seems - sources apparently are their own softair guns. The other 40% are hand drawn, and those look decidedly space age. Style of Photomanip and lineart don't mesh well with each other - here photorealism dimmed slightly by PSP filters, there strong, comic-esque inking and almost no shading. Not a pretty mixture, though both styles work for themselves reasonably well. Also, the resolution of the images seems bugged, both in Foxit and in Adobe reader. Low resolution, especially in the background, scaled up, it seems. That's one large step down from Unfriendly Skies' artwork's quality, which only had one glaringly obvious photomanip (something I personally disapprove of, but ymmv).

The guns ... the numbers seem mostly okay on a first glance, but missing add-ons their fluff explicitly refers to and bizarre discrepancies between caliber and classification of weapons occur, though. Lessons learned form That Old Drone? It seems not. A substantial step back from Unfriendly Skies here, too. Also, the stats for the vintage predators don't mesh with the old stats at all. Ammo capacity seems to change with age in weapons. Who'd have thought that.

Fluff ... goes towards the bizarre. There are free-selling guns in Europe and Japan now? Excuse me? Japan? The setting where half the point is the extreme firearms ban and a return to everyone wearing a tanto to fight off frequent ninjapunk attacks? It's not like "Licenses for every piece of gear" isn't a core mechanic of SR4 SINs either, but then again, the rules have meshed badly with old rules lately anyway.

Same tone as in War!, and it annoys me in the same ways, even though not on the same magnitude. Summed up, this PDF has a general tone to it that I just find unpleasant, bizarre fluff, and sloppy rules.

Bottom line: Meh. Mixed feelings. It's substantially worse than recent releases like Unfriendly Skies or Spy Games. However, it's not quite as bad as War!, because apparently the munchkinism has been reined in to levels I am familiar with from the old FanPro German supplements (the H&K X is like the Ares Y, only with [raised stat] and costing d6*100 nuyen less), so it's not a total disaster like War. It delivers some good weapons and some that ... are various levels of nonsense and uselessnes. This still gets only 2/5 from me, because of the many factual errors, wonky stats, in parts bizarre artwork (are the chinese assault rifles attempts atabstract art?), the integrated hidden errata, rules issues, and the overall tone in the writing, as well as getting the shadowtalk voices all wrong.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Gun Heaven
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruFiction.com Order

Shadowrun: Mission: 04-00: Back in Business
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Dirk L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/05/2011 15:12:10

I'm a Shadowrun GM, and my review will be from a GM's perspective. I nran the module as part of my home campaign, not in a dedicated Missions game. That is perfectly possible, making this a good buy for more than dedicated Missions players.

In my group, the adventure was very well received. It had the feel of an old module of 1st or 2nd Edition, with many stands to take, many moral decisions to make, but a very linear backbone. It was felt as a bit short, but that's the format. Mercurial went extremly well with the players, I had a couple pretty much squeeing about that NPC. MacCallister was well received too.

The adventure's structure is linear, but that's not too bad because there's not much reason to go astray. I had one scene whre I really had to improvise and make up a replacement for an important NPC, but that was easy to do. The pushing the Envelope pieces I almost all used, even though two slightly time shifted. Nazaire's introduction was a bit bumpy, but that's also due to the short timeframe Missions are meant for, I guess.

The art and maps were very well received, too. Especially the map of the underground. But the NPC pictures too.

Overall, this was one of the best canned adventures for SR I have run to date. It was fast paced, had a nice story and feel, and gave me as a GM pretty much all I needed without having to scour for things endlessly someplace or leaving me to deal with a mess. I could have, in the instance where my players managed to totally run from an opportunity, just let it be (that's what the adventure suggests), but I decided to introduce another interesting character from SRM04-01 instead (which I own but haven't played so far). Lots of fun with the locales - I'm starting to really look forweard to the underground book, and with that old-timey feel, a great addition to ongoing campaigns, or as a one-shot.

Bottom line: 5/5. You get much more than your money's worth out of this.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Mission: 04-00: Back in Business
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruFiction.com Order

Displaying 1 to 5 (of 5 reviews) Result Pages:  1 
Back
0 items
 Gift Certificates