Even though Horizon has received a fair amount of attention in the last year, products like this show that it is warranted. In previous editions, the familiar mega-corps like Ares and Renraku were continually referenced, but to give the true vision of an evolving game world, new players are required. Focusing on Horizon gives Catalyst a new mega-corp to flesh out and to show that change is not only possible, but a constant, in Shadowrun.
The choice of Horizon and the inner workings of its management is one which resonates with the readers modern sensibilities, yet extends these concepts to firmly root them in the cyberpunk genre. I made reference to this in my review of ‘Fistful of Credsticks’, and the writers have done an excellent job of continuing this work. The combination of the sinister Consensus (and how it can be manipulated) as well as the BTL-styled methods of employee engagement all show how truly Machiavellian the mega-corporation of the future can be. The opening and concluding chapters of this book are really the benchmark for how this is done. To be honest, it makes me want to run a game focused on the player-characters as Horizon employees, and then maybe (just maybe) leading to an extraction as they uncover the truth behind the company.
The book also includes a setting chapter for Las Vegas, which is fairly short, yet hits the mark. There is plenty of information here to build a ‘run (or full campaign) with and enough interesting quirks to make the location memorable (murder snow, anyone?). This section reads well, and the continuing BBS-style commentary is always welcome. These comments, littered throughout all sections of the book, are perhaps the unsung hero of the SR line. Those who follow the sourcebooks and various aspects of metaplot will always find tie-ins to other products and oblique references – the understanding of which makes you feel a little like the member of an inner circle.
The next fifteen chapters run in a similar vein to recent products like ‘Jet Set’ where the Plot Point system is used to give an almost fleshed out plot. It contains enough ideas to kick start a good few sessions, yet will require some work by the GM to make it flow smoothly. They are definitely not full modules, but with a couple of hours work they can be.
It was gratifying to see the range of situations and potential runs in the book, as there is a mix between melee, matrix and mystic in flavours. Again, the overarching statement about these chapters is that they are written well, and there is a solid attention to detail. It will be interesting if Catalyst decides to create more material for books like this and release short ‘PDF Plot Point’ books akin to their other smaller publications. Coupled with ‘Missions’ it could be an interesting way to fill the module niche for the line.
I like this new format for Shadowrun sourcebooks, but it is very firmly aimed for the GM. Whilst the final chapters do have some new Simsense data which could be acquired by PCs (no entirely sure they’d want it though), it is predominantly a storytelling tool. Overall, Catalyst has given us a sound product which extends the metaplot in a logical and interesting way, and I look forward to the game designers taking a similar approach with other corporations.
[4 of 5 Stars!]