GURPS Basic Set Third Edition
GURPS stands for Generic Universal Role-Playing System, and is an old and respected game. For the most part, it deserves all the praise it receives, and manages to fulfill most of its stated goals. It is probably the best known generic system out there and is excellent for most GM-created settings. It is also a 2nd generation game, in that it encourages roleplaying and takes a more mature outlook on gaming than pure hack'n'slash.
You would be extremely hard pressed to find gaps in the material of GURPS. It follows the school of absolutely comprehensive rules to cover any situation, and with the addition of the supplements such as the revered GURPS Space it answers the demands of universality it sets for itself by providing the rules. There are definately advantages to this take on rules, but my gaming group has constantly found the system fails to capture the feel and style of less-than-strictly realistic gaming.
The basic mechanics behind the system involve rolling 3d6 and trying to get under the level of the skill or attribute being used. The level of the skill or attribute can also be modified up or down depending on the difficulty of the task. The use of multiple dice effectively provides a non-linear probability scale for success, unlike many other systems. On the other hand it doesn't require huge numbers of dice to be rolled, and this allows a game to run fairly quickly. All up, the basic mechanics are extremely good, and if this was the way the entire system worked, I would unreservedly recommend GURPS.
This is where the largest problem with GURPS lies. There often doesn't seem to be much consistency in the more advanced rules, and with the huge number of additional rules such as in the Compendiums, the system seems bogged down in tacked on rules. This isn't really the fault of the company, and is highlighted by the simplicity of rulesets such as Storyteller where everything is an extrapolation of the basic rules, even combat. The fact is that GURPS has been well supported, but the Basic Set desperately needs a fourth edition to streamline and integrate all the additions to the system.
Many have complained about the complexity of character creation, but in fact this is one of the redeeming features in my opinion. Due to the amount of work put in during the character creation process, less needs to be done in actual gameplay, and the level of detail ensures that characters are significantly different from one another.
One quick note on combat: as a realistic system for simulating combat, GURPS does extremely well. It allows many more options than many games, especially when compared with the disturbing number that don't even have rules for hit locations, and makes combat far more interesting and enjoyable.
GURPS benefits from superior editing to the average product, and typos and the like are quite rare. Furthermore, the layout of the Basic Set (and most supplements) is easy to use, and well indexed, making good use of sidebars for more specific areas.
The artwork however is positively weak when compared to the high standards of most modern games, although there is no lack of art. Quantity not quality. The art certainly isn't bad, but its only average.
Strong basic system Easy to learn Well suited to any realistic campaign. Good layout
Poor with cinematic/anime material Lacks consistency
Style: 3 (Average)