Saturday, November 05, 2011
If you aren't familiar with it, Interface Zero is a savage cyberpunk setting from Gun Metal Games. However it's not just another clone of Cyberpunk 2020 or classic books like Neuromancer or Hardwired. Interface Zero (or IZ, for short) definitely strikes forth into some new territory, providing a fresh, modern view on the genre. Quite honestly, I think IZ is one of the best cyberpunk games I've seen in a long while, and I'd strongly recommend buying it if you are a fan.
The book is a well made hardcover retailing for $39.99 (I found it for $26 from an online vendor), with delicious artwork of consistently high quality and consistency of style. Even though its all in black and white, I didn't mind at all.
Inside is a host of new rules, many of which I wish I'd seen when I was writing up material for Future Perfect! I love the rules for cyberware and the core ideas for how to keep cybernetics balanced against other character traits such as Edges. In short, every piece of cyberware has a negative value associated with it (depending on quality and the function of the cybersystem) and the sum total of these negative values become a penalty to Vigor rolls to determine if something occurs when a character is injured or his system is under stress. I would have liked to see more granularity in terms of negative effects, but the core idea is sound. It wouldn't take a creative GM very long to expand the list into something less generic.
There are a few things I'm not so crazy about, mostly insofar as they seem like potential game balance concerns. For example, a few of the character "races" seem over powered compared to others, with very little in the way of negatives to discourage players from choosing those races every time. Again, there is nothing here that could not be tweaked with a quick house rule or two.
Unfortunately, the Hacking system seems like more of an issue -- then again, it is a concern in almost every Cyberpunk genre game I've played. It seems like the system can bog down a bit, especially for characters who are not dedicated hackers, and it reads like it could get a bit boring after a while, since most non hacker characters are very similar in virtual space and systems programs seem to be kind of repetitive.
Overall, IZ has earned a place on my game shelf. With its compelling backstory, interesting rules, and playability it's a must own for Cyberpunk fans. For Savage Worlds fans, IZ is a great addition for any Sci-Fi oriented game. It has a lot to offer and its shortcomings, of which there are only a few, I think are mostly a side effect of trying to balance good ideas with the demands of a system (and many of its fans) that demand everything holds to the FFF design theory. Unfortunately, sometimes FFF only stands for Fast, Frustrating, and Fracking Dull.
I give it 4.5 Stars out of 5.