Yay! I got my pre-order PDF copy of ICONS today and I couldn't wait to get home from work so that I could give it a read through. I also wanted to post about it right away to get out some first impressions!
First Glance... it's beautiful. Full color pages throughout (I think the print version will have black and white / gray scale pages ... oh, well.) The art is really neat and clean and bright and has a Bruce Timm influence. It matches the atmosphere and flavor of the game text and rules. The presentation is top notch ... that being said, the PDF lacks both a Table of Contents and an Index. That seems like a crime to me.
The game has both random character generation and a point buy option. I actually love the approach here to random generation. You will end up with characters of wildly differing power levels, but this is off-set by a special aspect called "Determination."
Determination is used for a variety of special things during game play and everyone has some to use, but characters with fewer powers have more than those characters with a lot of powers. This is meant to create a bit of balance. It means that even if you don't roll so well during character generation you will have more Determination to even things out.
I liked the random character tables a lot and they made me want to create a hero right away ... (that's cool!) I love random generation for games like this (and it's super rare!) because conceptually it's often hard for new players to know what they want to play when they step up to the table and are presented with a genre as wide open as comic book heroes. This game isn't for game balance Nazis or rules lawyers ... the system is pretty quick and dirty (but to me that reads, accessible and fun.)
I did notice some editorial discrepancies even in just my first few minutes with the book. Page 14 says Abilities greater than 6 count as Powers. Page 16 (the character creation example) says Ability over 7 ... later I found another reference (page 29) that says over 6 ... so, I can assume that any ability 7 and above is considered a power (for purposes of finding Determination) so, it's no big deal. On one of the tables a symbol meant to represent a Specialty Group (as opposed to a single specialty) is placed next to Wrestling, but it should be placed next to Weapons. I can figure this stuff out, but it kind of bothered me that the editor didn't catch things that bothered me on my first read through. (Plus no Table of Contents maybe the print version that I receive will have one of those though.)
The game system is loosely based on FUDGE but looks to be faster and easier and doesn't use FUDGE dice ... so, calling it FUDGE based to me is really only tipping of the hat to the game systems original source of inspiration. Everything about the system looks good and complete but I didn't see any form of character advancement or experience rules.
Despite this, the game looks good ... the book is gorgeous and I want to play this.
I'll post a more complete review of the game once I've had some time to absorb the material properly.