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Shadowrun: Hazard Pay $34.99 $25.00
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Kyle W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/14/2012 18:48:33
Hazard Pay is a wonderful supplement for Shadowrun 4th Edition, with a ton of text that will prove invaluable for anyone trying to run a Shadowrun game in an extreme environment while staying within the boundaries of strict canon.

It is very well written, but the editing is a bit of a disappointment; I've always looked to Catalyst Game Labs for every high quality products, but whoever was doing editing on this reminded me of what happens when I keep my laptop's trackpad on when I'm typing- there are a ton of typos and there are often places where it becomes clear that a sentence was being edited, then whoever was editing skipped to the wrong place. This doesn't detract from a reader's ability to understand the work for the most part, and I'd still recommend the book, but I get the feeling there was a little lack of the usual polish.

The art used to punctuate the writing is all great by any standards and serves to increase the immersion; some of it comes at a different point in the book than where I would have put it, but I'm not an expert designer and it still contributes to the work while providing awesome illustrations and examples.

The book also comes punctuated with short stories of varying length-these are all pretty well written, and introduce us to the characters who are narrating each section.

There's not a whole lot of crunch in the book, in terms of new rules, but there's plenty of new spells and a small bit of new gear, plus vehicles for most of the situations out there.

I really thought the Arctic section was the best, and part of this is due to the fact that it's the least touched on by other material, at least as far as I can tell. That said, the fact that a lot of creatures, say, mentioned in the Desert section, are available from only Parazoology means that in order for the reader to actually find the creatures is somewhat frustrating especially considering that no reference to the sourcebook is made. For instance, the Mongolian Death Worm is found in Parazoology, but without a reference to that book my primary resource for a critter would be Running Wild, rather than the substantially shorter Parazoology. In addition, while gear is duplicated in the Game Information section, critters are not, meaning I have to guess at where in the Arctic section I'll be grabbing that Spirit Bear to ambush my runners, which is far from impossible but is still a pain. A good index at the end of the PDF would help this a good deal, but to the best of my knowledge such an item is missing, and the PDF's built in bookmarks, which usually would do for such a task, have this on a third layer, making it near impossible for someone unfamiliar with the book to find this quickly without resorting to the PDF search function. In short, it feels like someone got lazy and didn't want to do a full table of contents (I've been guilty of doing the same), but when you're referencing between books it is really important to have such a thing. At the very least, a index for critters, magic, and gear of interest in other books could have been appended to the end of each section to point out where things are.

Ultimately, if you feel the need to take your campaign somewhere outside of traditional sprawls and want to give them the full Shadowrun hurt I'd suggest this to anyone, but be forewarned that it's not of CGL's usual quality.

Quick Summary:
Content: 5/5 (I'm content that the amount of content provided could make any group totally sick and tired of the settings within, and since there's a lot of stuff here it's pretty good.)
Art/Typesetting: 5/5 (Catalyst Game Labs remains as good as always about providing a book that doesn't make your eyes bleed but has plenty of stuff to focus on. I'm not a giant fan of the short-story font, but it's pretty good all around)
Writing: 4/5 (Very well written in terms of content, but there's some typos that could have been caught by giving it to a second editor or giving it another run through on the editing end)
Awesome Factor: 5/5 (Shadowrun in Space! Shadowrun in Antarctica! Shadowrun at sea! There's plenty of stuff to be had here for some really crazy and awesome scenarios.)
Interest: 5/5 (It's made exclusively for people who want an out-of-the-usual feel, and it provides that very well, at least if you're looking for the places that kill you quicker than the bad guys you're after thing)
Maturity: 16+ (Not terribly violent, but includes a good chunk of swearing)
Value: 3/5 (For $25, it tends to leave out a ton of content that I feel could be easily duplicated within, and it just isn't up to the usual standards of quality I expect from Catalyst)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Shadowrun: Hazard Pay
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