I have been dying for some new ICONS material. So I had to snatch up this newest addition. I rated this as a 3/5, but to me this is a good rating. It means you are getting what you paid for... though it didnt really blow up my skirt or anything.
Im going to start with what I like about this product. The setting is interesting. If you want an original superhero setting which doesnt feel like the West Coast or some kind of Metropolis/Gothum City/New York mixture then this product will work well for you. It gives a detailed lay out of the city including story hooks, set pieces, institutions, a very nice map, etc. It has a lot of homage characters like a Lois Lane-type, a Black Widow-type, a couple of Captain America-types, even a Nick Fury-type without an eyepatch. The last one even comes with a tricked out 'spy hunter' style car. They pack a lot into these 80 pages or so.
Now Ill talk about what I didnt like about this product. The art work was kind of graining or scribbly. This isnt bad, I got the general idea of what the character looked like and such, but a little more artistic 'shabang' and a bit of editing would go a long way towards another point on the scale.
Another complaint of mine is that the setting felt so 'classical'. Most ICONS products have a slick Silver Age style. My own personal style is more Bronze or functional. Like in the various comic book movies, the costumes are usually more functional and darker colored. Usually with a matching trench coat. Some of the villians felt like they would fit into my campaign. Iron Bay uses costume styles of the Golden Age. Costumes are colorful and garish with split color schemes. This is a minor gripe, at most.
I would have to say the ICONS mechanics felt... splattered together. This book was first released in MM3rd... so much can be lost in translation, I guess. ICONS is about elegance. Why have fifty points on a character sheet to track down when maybe less then a dozen would work? Minimalism is the key word with determination and stunts used for wiggle room. ICONS is dynamic... more about the rp process then using an extensive list of lists to keep track of everything. Im not sure the writer understands this and just used a table or two to convert retooled D&D into a FATE/FASERIP hybrid. For example, every Specialty doesnt need to be Expert level. The Abilities are designed as skill conglomerations. For example... one doesnt need a Listen skill to listen... they just roll Awareness. So if half the characters has over a dozen Expert level Specialties, then the Abilities arent doing what they are supposed to. Also odd notes were included on some characters which could have easily been reflected as Qualities or Challenges.
Take heart. This is the first converted supplement for this product line. It is my hope they work out a bit more on general delivery and illustrations as well as nailing down the ICONS system a bit more. I have faith and will buy more of thier ICONS products. Even if they dont improve, they give enough to cover what they promise. So either way I feel AHC is a safe bet.
My last note is more for RPGNow. This product is not listed under Rule System ICONS. I scan this site weekly for the newest ICONS releases. I would hate for someone else out there who is jonesing for new ICONS products who didnt happen to click on this product might miss it. Some customers who are looking for exactly this product arent able find it unless you can straighten this out. That would be a loss for everyone involved.
Thanks for reading this rather long review. I hope AHC comes out with more ICONS products which are well tagged and make them money. ICONS is a wonderfully simple and functional system. I hope they release more material for it. I promise to voraciously buy anything they put out. Peace.