I likes free downloads. Thems makes me very happy, even when I know the price is potential adiction to a full product line. It's a worthwhile gamble, especially if you're just looking around for ideas, art and inspiration for the campaign and system you are already running.
Today I re-introduced myself to Shadowrun. Shadowrun is now in it's fourth edition. My memories of the launch of the 1st edition were with a mixture of feelings, similarly expressed was the snobbery from Cyberpunk-ers and RIFTS players. The art looked great, but I remember wondering why anyone would want elves and goblins in Blade Runner. As I've said before, back then, my view of genres as campaign setting was pretty strict. Shadowrun looked like something a younger brother would bring to the table - a mix-up of everything they liked from other games. Parallels could be made with the lazy quasi-humorous translation of fantasy Warhammer into Rogue Trader/40K with it's Squats, Space-Orks, and Eldar - and later the dropping of some races because they just weren't aesthetically cool enough. However, in contrast to this perception it seemed to take itself very seriously.
In these post Buffy/Angel days (and all of the TV series which followed), where everyday magic, assimilated demons, vampires were explained with ethnic, counter-culture, alternative lifestyle metaphors, I feel more ready to accept the potential richness of the Shadowrun setting. Possibly, I'm so shallow, that I will not accept a setting unless I've seen it in a film or read the book first. Shadowrun looked like a derivative "meta"-game, like (the implausibly popular) Blood Bowl - an in-joke between gamers. Judgimg by the number of products and editions the publishers must have been doing something right. Looking at Shadowrun now, it looks as though it could have been a real blast to play, either seriously or with humour (again back to jokes vs. apocalypse Buffy and Angel). So now I'm wondering if I seriously missed out on something. But at least now, given the chance I could get my teeth into the basics.
If you have no idea what any of this is and you wouldn't mind a world where trolls splice into the Matrix and tattooed elves tote seriously state-of-the-art guns and all sorts of other strangeness, then the several editions of Shadowrun might be well be worth a gander. :)