First of all: I ran a medium-long (appr 10-15 sessions) Titan Effect (“TE”) campaign, so I write this review based on a true story :)
Most supers settings give players an opportunity to play superheroes in a more or less stereotypical way: colourful clothing (perhaps even capes), fancy names, save the city/world/etc. The design of the NPCs reflect the same intent. Although I like the superhero genre, I really wanted to DM a supers setting which allows a bit more realistic approach and experience. From all Savage Worlds (“SaWo”) settings I think Titan Effect meets my expectations most.
Although super-powered and fighting for a better world, TE characters (called psychics) are not superheroes at all. They are operatives of a secret agency (SPEAR, in some way similar to Marvel’s SHIELD), participate in missions across the globe instead of saving a city, and fight in a kevlar suit, whereas the enemies are (human, bio-augmented or psychics) terrorists and rival organizations instead of local supervillains in funny clothing.
The tone is more realistic than in a supers comic setting, which is supported by the fact that players dispose relatively low-level super powers. Therefore guns, armor and espionage hard/software are not merely accessories, they are important tools of the game. On the other hand the setting is different from the pulp/street fighter settings (eg Batman, Daredevil) as well, because characters do dispose superpowers and the enemies are far more dangerous and global than simple criminals. The slogan “Tom Clancy meets X-Men” is true.
Content: Most SaWo settings include a world description, some adventures (Savage Tales/Plot Point Campaign) and a few pages about game mechanics. I was glad that instead TE provides a huge amount of content: 40-45 pages of game mechanics + 30 pages of NPCs. Furthermore we have tons of in-world infos, descriptions of the major factions and also a well-detailed mission generator. Not too mention the free materials which are not included in the book but were/will be published later on.
Design: The realism is reflected by the illustrations as well which are gorgeous and are totally different from the comic book-design of most supers RPG setting. This book is one of the most beautiful illustrated SaWo-setting I have ever seen.
Some words about the factions: we get well-detailed descriptions about all. As enemies we have bio-terrorists, a global grey eminence organization with genetically enhanced (bio-augmented) agents, a post-KGB group of terrorists(?) which trains his psychic agents beyond their limits and even a church-connected organization where superpowers are considered as a gift of God. In the current state these factions are not playable, they represent potential contacts and enemies, players are automatically the agents of SPEAR.
Perhaps one flaw shall be mentioned as well: unfortunately the NPCs in the book were usually relatively “weak” for the well-designed characters of my creative players :) so I had to increase the numbers of NPCs in the encounters or re-design some super-powered villains.
We really enjoyed the campaign with TE and we have already started “season 2”: 4 sessions are beyond us, and I have appr 10 adventure seeds in mind...so we will be busy). I hope that there will be more books to this setting, there are too many hints and secrets in the campaign book to be left undiscovered :)