We played Shadowrun again today. I'm still not in love with SR4. For the most part, I find the system to be clunky and inelegant (which is actually a conclusion I am arriving at for all systems where I have to roll more than two or three dice on a regular basis). I have to roll nine dice for initiative. One player rolls something like a dozen or so dice to make his attack rolls, and he uses two guns and gets three initiative passes per round. Combat is sloooo-oooow, though this is a problem that SR3 had as well. I don't remember 2 well enough to say if combat was slow, but I'm betting that this is a problem that SR has had since the beginning.
The GM and I both still have problems with the way the Matrix works. While I understand the concepts in the chapter, (AR, AROs, DOTs, PANs, and other assorted acronyms) I'm not sure what it takes to actually do anything. The GM agrees that it is vague to him as well. What, precisely, is the procedure for opening a door via hacking? Well, we're sort of sure. I feel that the Matrix was dealt with more specifically in SR3, although we found deckers unplayable because of the time lag between their Matrix runs and the actual, physical run. While SR4 has done a great job with the whole AR thing (giving hackers the ability to act in real time with the rest of the players), we feel that the hacking is a little vague and open-ended.
I do love my actual character himself, and find playing him is enjoyable, though mostly the parts of him that are not on a character sheet. I also like the other characters for very similar reasons, as well as the NPCs and the GM's version of the Redmond Barrens. I am having vastly more fun roleplaying than actually playing the mechanical game of Shadowrun.
Honestly, system-wise, I'd rather be playing this using Savage Worlds/Interface Zero or Daring Tales of the Sprawl. However, I am enjoying the campaign setting itself and can tolerate the system for the moment. Part of me wants to keep reading and studying the book until I feel that I better understand the Matrix rules, but another part of me thinks that there isn't a whole lot more there to understand, and that it's really up to the GM's interpretation. I also sort of balk at the idea of having to study so much for a tabletop game. I am willing to study, and even study something difficult, but I feel the enjoyment I get out of SR4's mechanics isn't worth the effort it would take to study the game system.
Well, what the hell... I ignored the crappy system of RIFTS to play in an otherwise enjoyable campaign setting (well, after La Revolucion, that is) and I can ignore the warts of SR4 to enjoy the game we're playing. Yes, I would like to play a more elegant rules system, but what can you do? I hardly expect the entire group to conform to my tastes.