Amazingly enough I discovered Space Opera in 1981 and about 5 months after I discovered the D&D and the AD&D First Edition rules. I was hooked on role-playing and SO really added fuel to the fire. I studied those rules backwards and forwards, upside-down and right-side up. I tore them up. I just could not find anybody that would stop playing AD&D, so I focused on AD&D - but I absolutely never forgot the "Space Opera" RPG.
In my opinion, the SO RPG is not the greatest mechanically designed ''classic'' RPG. SO had both a confusing and weak hand-to-hand combat, space combat heavily based on "wet-navy" mechanics, poor to non-existent martial arts system and a skill resolution mechanic just as poor. Otherwise the damage mechanic and skill result mechanics where pretty cool. SO's primary strength lies in its originality of the material about super-technology, super-science, Psionics, FTL spacecraft details, detailed history, detailed cultures and great inter-stellar civilizations that easily compares to or rivals the SCIFI RPGs classics like: Traveller, MegaTraveller, MechWarrior, BattleMech and even StarFrontier. I think only the StarWars RPG (the original), StarWars D20, SpaceMaster and Star Hero equals SO's potential, in this regard. Get this! 'Space Opera' is the only RPG where a Dorsai-type soldier, a Lensman-type super-agent/spy, a classic scifi Star Marines, StarPatrol and a Jedi Knight warrior can all fight side-by-side - OR fight each other!!! Isn't that cool? Minus the few areas of what I said is bad, the good in SO provides a broad range of material and concept development that is historically one of the best rpg designs since the early 1980's. As you can probably tell, I was happy, when I found DRIVETHRURPG's website! :D