One of the coolest games I have bought in recent history is HackMaster Basic. I have to say I really love this game. It does a great job of reenvisioning the original HackMaster system, while maintaining its old school Advanced Dungeons & Dragons roots. The game designers have managed to add solid new game mechanics throughout the product without bogging the game down in any way. And the fact that they got Erol Otus to paint the cover is reason enough alone to buy this game.
Earlier editions of HackMaster put me off a bit with some of the jokes and dumb comedy that were embedded into the products. I had a hard time imagining the original HackMaster powering a serious campaign because of this. Well, those worries are completely gone with the new edition. Kenzer & Co. have moved away from the less than serious approach, dialed the comedy down several notches and have produced a great fantasy roleplaying game. With a few tweaks here and there I could easily see myself using the new HackMaster rules to power the sword & sanity campaign I am currently running. Now if only they would slap an Open Game License on HackMaster I would be a happy camper...
As for the system, I would put HackMaster Basic somewhere between Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and RuneQuest or Basic Roleplaying. There are things about the new system that remind me of both of these great games.
For those wanting to learn even more about HackMaster Basic take a look at a recent interview Kenzer & Co. did at Gen Con 2009: