I have this weird urge to collect gaming books... even things I'll never play. I have a copy of AEON because it was before MTV made White Wolf change the game's name to Trinity. I have a copy of Nightspawn before Todd Macfarlane kicked up a stink and made them change it to Nightbane, etc.
Now I have RIFTS Gold Edition, one of only 600 printed, and a bizarre continuation of my dysfunctional, why-do-you-make-me-hurt-you relationship I have with the game.
My very first impression is that, despite being 50 pages shorter than the current RIFTS Ultimate Edition (hereafter referred to with the strangely appropriate acronym of RUE), Gold Edition manages to be a better game book by orders of magnitude. Some highlights Gold has over RUE:
1. Better organized (well, for Palladium, anyway) Character classes follow the character creation rules, as opposed to RUE, whic has the character classes on pages 53-158 and 231-237, then starts character creation on page 279.
2. Skill List- bottom of one page and top of another; about a full page worth of skills. RUE has a full two page spread of skills, including such vital abilities as Breed Dogs, Medicinal Brewing, and Recycle.
3. Gold Edition has a bestiary. It is anemic at best, but at least it has one. Includes Coalition bad guys ready to fight, a couple of monsters, dinosaurs, and a table you can use to roll up weird monsters that might be found on RIFTS Earth.
4. Everyone tends to have fewer attacks per round, and armor seems to have less MDC. This makes combat less of an endlessly dragging morass.
...and you know, that's really all it takes. There are other things I like quite a bit in terms of game-ability and others that are purely nostalgia... but if I ever take leave of my senses entirely and run me some RIFTS, I will be using Gold Edition.
(I understand that Gold Edition is the same game as pre-RUE RIFTS, but the limited edition just gives it that holier-than-thou vibe I need to feel validated.)