(An explanation of the items in each book review can be found here.)

Ease of Use

7000: Shadowrun, Third Edition (hardcover)

Release: GenCon 1998
Authors: Michael Mulvihill, Robert Boyle, Randall Bills, Diane Piron-Gelman, Steve Kenson & Jon Szeto
ISBN: unknown
Price: $30.00
Pages: 338 (incl. 16 color) + 8 color
Status/Availability: out of print/very rare
Sections: Introduction, Welcome To The Shadows, See How They Run, And So It Came To Pass..., Game Concepts, Creating A Shadowrunner, Skills, Combat, Vehicles And Drones, Magic, The Matrix, Running The Shadows, Beyond The Shadows, Contacts, Spirits And Dragons, Street Gear, Seattle And The Modern Northwest, The Developer's Say, Sourcebook Updates
Overview: This book replaces the Shadowrun, Second Edition book as the core rules for the Shadowrun game system. It updates the second edition rules to conform to rules published in books brought out after 1992 (mainly Virtual Realities 2.0 and Rigger 2, but also others) so that this book is all you need to play Shadowrun. Additionally, the rules are modified and simplified in places to make them easier to use and/or understand, especially to new players. Further upgrades include tweaking the magic system and updating the timeline to 2060.
So is it worth buying if you have the second edition rules? In my opinion, yes, it is. Although there are some changes I personally don't like, on the whole I feel it's a successful upgrade to the game system that you can't really do without if you're a regular Shadowrun player. As for new players wanting to start the game, the deal is simple: should you get the choice between second and third editions, buy third.
Similar Products: Shadowrun — Where Man Meets Magic And Machine, Shadowrun, Second Edition, Shadowrun, Third Edition (softcover)
Survey Rating: 9.1 (11 votes)
Notes: The hardcover version of the third edition main rulebook was a very limited edition with a black, leather-like, foil-stamped cover that lead to the ShadowRN mailing list nicknaming it "BABY"—Big And Black Yearbook. Only 1,000 were made and hand-numbered (mine is no. 81 :P ) for sale at GenCon 1998; according to FASA (see http://www.fasa.com/Shadowrun/Catalog/product10497.html), the 72 copies remaining after GenCon were sold between 10:00 AM and 12:00 AM on 17 August 1998, so getting one now will be just about impossible. However, the softcover is exactly the same book, except for the cover and one page.

Ease of Use

7001: Shadowrun, Third Edition (softcover)

Release: 1998
Authors: as for the hardcover
ISBN: 1-55560-371-8
Price: $25.00 (first printing), $30.00 (second and subsequent print runs)
Pages: 336 (incl. 16 color) + 8 color
Status/Availability: in print/very common
Sections: as for the hardcover
Overview: as for the hardcover
Similar Products: Shadowrun — Where Man Meets Magic And Machine, Shadowrun, Second Edition, Shadowrun, Third Edition (hardcover)
Survey Rating: 8.3 (29 votes)
Notes: This is the standard version of the third edition main rulebook. The price was increased after the first printing, and later printings incorporate all errata brought out for this book.

Artwork Layout
Content Price
Ease of Use Overall

7002: Shadowrun Gamemaster Screen, Third Edition

Release: 1998
Authors: Robert Boyle, Steve Kenson & Michael Mulvihill
ISBN: 1-55560-369-6
Price: $15.00
Pages: 48 (Critters) + three-panel screen
Status/Availability: in print/very common
Sections: none
Overview: This is the gamemaster screen for Shadowrun, Third Edition, and like its predecessors (the first and second edition screens) is printed on thick cardboard and has a three panels with good artwork on the front—the art on the screens is getting better with every edition :) The back of the screen has all the usual tables for combat, magic, decking, and so on, but it all appears to be intended mainly for newcomers to the game, as veteran players really don't need the turn sequence charts and would probably like to have something else on the back of the screen instead.
The Critters book is a compilation of critters and critter rules from other sourcebooks, mainly the Paranormal Animals books. It includes a full list of powers and weaknesses updated for third edition rules, as well as full game stats and short descriptions of each critter. Illustrations are thin on the ground—there are about a dozen critters on every two pages, but roughly one illustration in the same space—so if you want to know what all the critters look like, you'll have to track down the Paranormal Animals books. Some critters were also left out of the book: those considered "lame" (as Mike Mulvihill put it) and many spirit-like creatures, which should appear in Magic in the Shadows (which had not yet been released when this review was written).
My conclusion is that, if you have no gamemaster screen and/or the Paranormal Animals books, this is a good buy. If you have one or both, you may want to spend your money on something else.
Similar Products: Shadowrun Gamemaster's Screen, Shadowrun, Second Edition Gamemaster Screen
Survey Rating: 6.0 (18 votes)