[Story time with H0tl1ne! A little more personal than usual too.]
Today, I would like to share with you my greatest disappointment I've had with Netrunner. I don't think this will be a good, meaningful, interesting review, nor do I care. However, if you wish to read on, please be my guest.
The funny thing is, Unregistered S&W '35 was actually the reason I picked up Honor and Profit expansion pack, my first big box since the Core Set - I looked at the back of the cover and noticed this, and then thought to myself: "What?! This game has hacking AND guns? SOLD!". And then, I rushed down the highway to absolute poverty by spending the most of my savings on even more Netrunner, despite playing almost exclusively on Jinteki.net and finding that this game indeed had guns, only the majority of them was pointed at you.
So uh, guns are a thing in the future. What a surprise, right? To somebody who knows the 'verse solely from playing Netrunner, this might indeed be a surprise - so far, S&W '35 is the only Weapon type Hardware that is obtainable by Runners. We've also got bombs, but, mysteriously, these are NOT considered armaments. Hell yeah, f*ck consistency!
Unregistered S&W '35's main merit is that it is... unregistered. In the far future of corporate fascism, not unlike our world, guns have serial numbers and the death dealing is strictly regulated, to ensure that all the boomsticks go to all the right people. This way, every bullet fired ever can be traced back to the gun that fired it, which makes homicide a really risky course of events.
But sometimes you manage to slip an iron through the cracks of all the security measures. Gene-locks can be hacked, databases erased or edited, some goodies can even be manufactured at home, not to mention the secondary market some of the higher-ups profit from a lot. It is, however, a costly and risky process if you're not in the business, which explains three influence a piece for non-Criminals. But if you already do know someone who delivers (which means, you've spent your pips), getting a gun and ammo is dirt cheap - just one credit.
S&W '35 fires .22 LR rounds, the third most popular type of cartridge in the dark future of Android, way behind 9x19mm Parabellum and .45 ACP., and is one of the three variants you can get a standard Skorpios handgun in. Quite ironically, .22 is the type of ammo most used in present day's small gang-related violence as such small arms, referred to as zipguns, can be made from basically anything, from sink pipes to pens. Small cartridge size also means small size overall, which makes our only gun a perfect choice for an infiltration mission, as it is portable and easily concealable - since you actually have to get inside the corporation's HQ while packing, none of these is without worth.
This card has supposedly been meant as a way to counter high-end security measures such as Ash 2X3ZB9CY, Caprice Nisei or anything that basically sits in a server and makes a break-in especially costly. If successful hacking into a server requires you to spend 10+ credits and then win a Psi game on top of it (33% success chance), it is better to just spend several clicks in order to blow someone's head off and then just walk in like you owned the place.
Except this card is really, really unwieldy. In order to successfully use it, you need to invest not two, but three clicks (one to run HQ, the other two to make it work). All this not counting the click used to install it, and if you have it in your rig, you're losing all the element of surprise you'd otherwisely have with a well-concealed gun. They will hesitate to rez their meaty stuff when they know you can shoot it down (heck, most times they only rez it right before you end the run, so there is actually no window for you to do the killing!) - and if you pull out the gun and fire, you're left with no time to break in before they set up countermeasures that are less murderable. The only way to use your pistols properly is to combo - but these clicks are better spent actually trying to break in.
This card is ultimately disappointing, yes, but my disillusionment with it is something else entirely.
When they give you cool goodies, your immediate thought is to do cool stuff with them - and what can be cooler than an assassination mission where you climb the forty-story tower in order to blow the brains out of the people behind all this - Boondock Saints style - netting you the final two points you need for the coolest victory ever had by anyone?
You can't do this though. This is not how this card works. Your targets must be put down with money, not with bullets, if you want to earn your points.
This is when I realized Netrunner isn't a cool game about doing inspired, spontaneously cunning stuff to be reminisced many years later. It's your another collectible card game about power creep and spending money on things you don't want to play but you have to, because everyone else does. It might have cool flavor, but it is there only to taunt you, to make you think of the game that might have been - in a beautiful world where earning money from your sales doesn't matter.