So, given that we all had the day off today, some of my Sunday group decided to give SR4 a test run, since it will be what we are playing in a few weeks, after Deadlands concludes.
Unwilling to be bested by a rules system, I had been studying the hacking/Matrix rules in SR4. (Ridiculous... study a goddamn game? Really?) I created my scrawny goth hacker, known on the net as Count Hackula. It took me forever to build the character, with most of the time being sucked up by the purchase of gear, particularly Matrix programs. SR4 still suffers from being gear-porn, though I believe every edition of the game suffers from that flaw.
Our crew consisted of the Count, Shadow (a cat shaman), and the busty orcish Gunslinger Adept taken right out of the example characters. (Though I think the player switched the guns)
SR4 plays differently than SR3, and not just because of the changes in game mechanics. The fact that everyone and just about every damn thing is running on a wireless network makes hackers much more useful/playable, but we still found it was better to leave the hacker in the car, parked several blocks away, to wreak digital havoc on the bad guys. I felt like kind of an ass because I knew the hacking rules better than the poor GM and I feel like I kind of ran in circles around him. He wasn't sure what cyber-defenses to give the antagonists, so I found it easy to royally screw them from the safety of the gun-adept's car. Hackers are all but a necessity in SR4.
I don't like the huge fistfuls of d6's that have to be tossed around during the game. (This was a small thing that always bugged me about World of Darkness and Champions, too)
We didn't have much combat, so I can't really attest to how fast that moves. However, I have found that combat in general is now, to me, the most boring part of gaming.
I have no commentary on the magic system, since I wasn't playing the spellcaster. The player who was says she is confused by the magic system, but she seemed to do well enough with basic spellcasting and even summoned up a minor spirit. (Though it wasn't particularly helpful to us)
In all honest, I'd rather do Shadowrun with a different system, keeping the concepts/world but using a lighter system. I've heard of a Savage Worlds book, Interface Zero, but that contains an entire setting and might be a bit more complication than we need. There are supposedly some free rules on the net for cyberware in SW, and the system call already handle magic and fantasy elements.
Another contender would be the d6 System, perhaps Mini Six. I'm not sure where the cybernetics rules would be found... maybe D6 Space or something like that.
Heck, I'm not sure I can even sell the group on the need to switch systems. I know one player is definitely in favor of the original SR rules, and fair enough... but I know that I would prefer something a bit lighter and faster. I'm sure I'm not alone in my preferences, but only a few of us have tried it out... we'll have to see what the larger group wants to do. We'll likely be playing SR on Sunday again, and we'll return to Deadlands December 5th.