I have now finally run a game of Valiant Universe, and can confidently report that I feel that many of the issues other reviewers have perceived with this system are, in my opinion at least, part of what makes this a must-have purchase.
I've been a supers gamer for a long time. I've played and run the sublime (DC Heroes) to the ridiculous (Heroes Unlimited), and I've always noticed the same thing every time. In every group I've played in or run for, there is always at least one player who says "But I wanted my character to have (insert obscure power here)!" A lot of GMs are happy to hand-wave and come up with a rule on the fly, and that's great, but some systems actively support the 'go-anywhere-build-anything' mindset, Champions & M&M being the first two that spring to mind. But often, because of this, most of the first session is spent juggling points, calculating modifiers and getting migraines, all before a single die has been rolled.
In Valiant, at last, we have a system that says "sure, why not? If it's okay with the group, define the power as far as it makes sense. Can we play now?"
Yep, that last sentence above is key to the design ethic behind Valiant Universe; this thing is FAST! But that speed doesn't cost the game any depth. Actions run the gamut from combat to skill use to even some very odd power descriptors (Woody's 'Snark' and Faith's 'Pop Culture Knowledge' spring to mind here), hinting at a system that is as flexible as it is fun. And therein lies the point of this review: This is a fun game, perfect for pick-up play or a long-term campaign, capable of telling deep, engaging stories or hosting a superpowered downtown grudge-match, and as adaptable as the players and Lead Narrator feel it needs to be. And this is only the first release...I for one will be giving this new contender a fair shake, as the mile-wide smiles on the faces of my group when the first session wrapped were all the proof I needed that we had ourselves a winner.
[5 of 5 Stars!]