Designed to give a flavour of what Shadowrun is all about, this opens with 'Everything has a price' - the mantra by which the mercenary world of the shadowrunner operates. It then presents the romantic view of shadowrunners as the brave few who won't dance to the megacorporations' tune and aid their pursuit of profit above all else.
It then dives straight in to an outline of how the game works, written with the complete beginner in mind. Pre-generated characters are provided, but there's a clear run-down of all the main components of one: metatype, attributes, qualities and skills, although it doesn't explain how to actually create a character - after all, this is designed to give you a flavour of the game. The task resolution process (or 'test') is explained quickly but clearly with examples, along with a short concise summary of the combat process.
Next, the 'awakened world' of magic is covered with explanations of how to cast spells and how to defend against them with counterspells. For those who prefer the technological, this is followed by details of the wireless augmented reality world in which the characters live, in constant realt-time communication with the Matrix (the beast into which the Internet has evolved). And that's everybody, not just the deckers whose specialist skills enable them to explore and warp the Matrix in ways never intended.
Armed with this rather breathless yet comprehensive overview of game mechanics, you are then provided with a short scenario, 'Fast Food Fight', in which you can try them out using the pre-generated characters provided. For reasons adequately explained this revolves around a brawl in a fast food restaurant, a place which makes the burger joints we're used to sound like fine dining. A plan of the place is provided as well as clear descriptions of every location (and the hazards therein). NPCs are also provided, and there is even a copy of the establishment's menu... along with some rules to determine if anyone eating from it gets food poisoning!
Although simple, the adventure does provide plenty of action. There are suggestions throughout for running it and even for digging a bit deeper and taking it to a full-blown adventure, as well as some hints for more astute players to develop some interesting tactics during the brawl. There's even a sheet of handy tables to use as a Gamemaster Screen.
A nice introduction to playing the game, suitable even for newcomers to role-playing never mind Shadowrun, but an experienced Gamemaster would be advantageous, if you have one. If you are interested in shifting editions of Shadowrun, you'll have to decide where the differences lie between this and the edition(s) you are used to playing, as there is no indication here. But overall it gives a good feel of basic shadowrunning and ought to leave players ready to get to grips with the full game.
[5 of 5 Stars!]