Overview: Technoir blends the concepts of cyberpunk with film noir with a tight and flexible game system that rewards play within the conventions of both genres. The system is easy to learn, allows for all sorts of strategic play within the fiction of the world, and ties the characters into the setting using a system that lets a GM build a plot-line as play evolves, if desired. The game is very customizable and developing new content is extremely easy.
Rules: Technoir's rules system is based on verbs and adjectives. The verbs are the things the characters do in the setting and you will see all the cyberpunk/noir regulars featured: Fight, Hack, Prowl, and Operate (drive drones and vehicles). These verbs are the WHAT you and your opponents do, the adjectives are (as you would expect) the HOW. Characters, equipment, and contacts all have adjectives that allow the player or GM extra resource options in the games fast-playing resolution system.
The effect of every contentious action from combat to verbal sparring is an attempt to put an adjective on your opponent. Use your "Fight" verb (and maybe help it out with your 'accurate' gun and your 'steady' personal adjective) to place the adjective 'shot' on your target. How bad the effect is and how long it lingers is based on a dice resource called Push that gets traded as adjectives are made to linger longer on the target. The PCs start with the Push advantage, but as they get embroiled in the plot, they start to give it over to the GM, whose NPCs start making life tough on the PCs, giving the dice back. The ebb and flow of Push keeps the game's pitch dead-on as the plot resolves to a good climax.
The game also has a system of favor trading with NPC contacts that keeps the PCs tied into the community they live in and beholden to players that become more involved in events the more they are consulted. Money is always tight and favors help get the right tools in your hands. The gear system is very intuitive and many cyberpunk classics are represented as well as some new takes on the cutting edge.
Presentation: The game is very cleanly laid-out and attractive to the eye. There are some full-color images in the text, but most of the art is very tasteful tri-tone images that set the tone for each section, demonstrate game-play, or show examples of the equipment in the game. As an added bonus to those of us who like a printout at the table, the raster graphics are on a layer in the PDF that can be switched off to save toner./ink. The text is clear and has clear examples of play close to each section of rules.
Portability: Similar to game like 'Fiasco', Technoir comes with setting bibles called "Transmissions" that make game setup and prep easy and organic, even during play. These setting manuals allow for the fan community to create and share their own Transmission with others and integrating other people's transmissions into your own game is a snap. Also, the system hackers out there will recognize that a few tweaks to the starting verbs and training programs allows a group to run a number of other genres.
I recommend the game for fans of cyberpunk gaming who want a more streamlined system or a system that is less about the shopping list and more about the motives of the characters. I also recommend the game to those who like modern noir movies like "Blade Runner" or "Brick" (both obvious inspirations for this game) or the classic noir films. Story gamers will find much here to love, as the game centers on the character's and their goals, even while keeping that cybernetic edge you need for good cyberpunk.
[5 of 5 Stars!]