Strangely, I am the only roleplayer I know who started roleplaying with something other than AD&D. But I started with one of the best designed sytems ever, GURPS(Generic Universal RolePlaying System). Far and away superior to the the top two, AD&D and Vampire, it is often ignored in serious discussions. But I believe that no other company has ever put out as many top quality rulebooks as SJG.
But, I digress. The new copy I just purchased is hardback, a SJG first, with a decent picture on the front. The character creation system borrows, and improves, Champions. It improves it because it does not take two hours to create a character, and you do not need a calculator. Basically, it is a point based system. The combat rules are clear and concise, with many options to make it more realistic.
There is no prepackaged setting, but there are numerous source books out covering superheroes to magic to the old west. All are first rate.
In short, if you are tired of AD&D or Shadowrun or whatever and you feel the need to play the best system ever, look no farther than GURPS.
Style: 5 (Excellent!)