GURPS Ultra-Tech 2
This review is coming around a bit late; after all, GURPS Ultra-Tech 2 (hereinafter: UT2) dates from 1997; the copy I'm holding is from the 1999 reprinting. Still, better late than never, eh ?
UT2 is subtitled "Hard-Core, Hard-Wired Hardware," and it's all that and more. Chapter 1 is on the theme of technology in general. It discusses the assumptions that have been made in assigning Tech Levels in the past, and what sort of interesting effects one can get by changing those assumptions for one's own game. Author David Pulver goes the extra step to make note of places where real technology is matching (or leaping ahead!) of the GURPS fictional technology expectations. This chapter, largely discussion and philosophy, is a welcome constrast to all that follows.
For the rest of the book, like its predecessor GURPS Ultra-Tech (Revised Edition) (abbr. UT), is dedicated to descriptions of Stuff. Chapter 2 focuses on equipment -- basically, the stuff which wouldn't fit neatly in any other chapter. Chapter 3 looks at computers. Chapter 4 is labeled "Comm & Info." That means communications gear and information-gathering equipment -- sensors, scanners, detectors and the like. Chapter 5, "The Armory," takes up nearly a quarter ot the book with more ways to dispense death and destruction than any Doom addict could conceive. Chapter 6, a mere six pages, looks at ways to defend yourself against all that nastiness from the preceding chapter. Covert Ops and Security is the subject of Chapter 7; all manner of fun sneaky stuff can be found here. Chapter 8 covers medical equipment and drugs.
Chapters 9 and 10 move into territory not previously covered in UT but which was amply addressed in GURPS Cyberpunk and its supplements. Chapter 9 covers cyberwear, all those wonderful devices you can have grafted onto your bod to "improve" you. Chapter 10 goes the next step further, introducing fun ways to mechanically customize your brain. Costs for these improvements (in character points and bucks) have been revised from their original GURPS Cyberpunk appearance to conform to GURPS Compendium I. And don't we all want to conform to Compendium I? Everybody nod together, now. Good. The usual pile of tables and the index follow.
Where UT tended to provide the expected . . . that is, the equipment and technology we've been accustomed to having in sci-fi roleplay since the dawn of time (aka Traveller), and GURPS Bio-Tech provided the genetic and biological sorts of modifications, UT2 leans into the hardware, and particularly into nano-technology. As such, it provides a nice contrast to Bio-Tech even though it tends to cover some of the same ground, albeit addressing the issues from different perspectives. David Pulver has done his usual thorough job of documenting and statting all the gizmos, from the Anti-Glare Contact Lenses to the Zap Glove, and providing fun ideas on using the equipment (and circumventing it, too).
Since this book was originally published in August of 1997, you can expect a wealth of the art of Dan Smith throughout the book. Some pieces by Denis Loubet and Gene Seabolt sneak in, though, providing a much-needed change of pace from Smith's often-stark style.
UT2 makes a fine resource for players and game masters working in mechanically futuristic future. Some of the body modifications can also come in handy for the super-hero types. But there may be too much of a good thing here. In three books totalling over 380 pages, we've been shown so many different devices and weapons and gadgets and what-not. For the game master, this means much careful thought on what he intends to permit in his game and what he will prohibit . . . and why. And while this kind of reflection is often good for a campaign, not everyone wants to be compelled to address these topics. For the player, it means having so much to choose from even after the game master winnows it down that the character devolves into a walking equipment rack, suitable only for absorbing hit points and having no personality beyond his equipment list.
Is it worth buying? Yes, certainly. If you really need the extra options or even just want the additional guidance, UT2 is a good buy. And there's much in UT2 that cannot be found in any other GURPS book. But be prepared . . . there's a lot of stuff here, and if you attempt to incorporate even a teeny fraction of it, your game world could suffer from overload and identity loss. And what's the fun in that?
Style: 3 (Average)