ActionZone is designed to be a very simple game to pick and play, specifically in the genre of "80's / 90's Action! movies" and M-Rated video games. Game sessions will focus on "alien invaders, sewer mutants, killer robots ... car chases, helicopter crashes, and more guns and explosions than your average war". There's also a good list if movies, TV shows, video games, books, comics, and Anime that can be used for inspiration.
Characters get nine (9) Attributes (Strength, Agility, Intelligence, Endurance, Unarmed, Melee, Ranged, Explosives, Drive) and 45 character points to split between them. Hit Points are calculated, and they get the weapons and vehicles they need. Characters easily fit on a 3x5 index card.
The resolution mechanic is a simple roll-under the attribute system.
The game includes rules for various types of fighting, weapons, armor, and vehicle chases, as well as explosions.
What I liked:
- No skills, just a set of attributes that cover action-movie style actions
- Very simple roll-under system, can be taught in minutes
- The plot generator tables, they look fun!
- Game focus on what it sets out to do, big 80's/90's Action! movies
What can be improved:
- The cross-hatched metal plate page backgrounds make the game challenging to print, and read
- "If the number on the d10 comes up LESS than your score in that attribute, it’s a success. If it’s MORE than your score, it’s a failure." OK, but what if it's EQUAL TO the score? The d10 matching the attribute score will comes up 10% of the time.
- No non-combat attributes (maybe Intelligence?), so how does the PC handle romance, or their superiors at the police station / army base / secret government hangout? How does the PC interrogate, intimidate, or seduce?
My impression is the game screams, "ten minute char gen, two hours of running around, having fun shooting at stuff and blowing it up, and the rest of the evening reminiscing about those great old movies we used to watch." That's not a complaint! I especially think the game would be perfect for convention play, with an ad hoc group. This game doesn't try to do everything, it tries to do one thing in particular and does a pretty good job of that.
I'm only giving it 3/5 because of the items I listed above (needs to be improved), but the author is already working on an update that will address these and roll in suggestions from his players. But, honestly, if you want a pick-up game for a night of fun or a convention, and you want the players to have full buy-in, by referencing some of their favorite movies (or so-bad-they're-good movies!), then this is the game to try!