I picked up the new Arkham Horror game last week. Was out of town over the weekend which gave me a great chance to read up on all the rules. So now after having a chance to play a couple of smaller games, the game is a blast! It's got overtones of Talisman, but I like the mechanics better as well as the setting.
The game is for 1 - 8 players. It comes with a nice sized board, 16 different characters to choose from, 8 (I think) different ancient ones, plus many item cards, spell cards, location cards, event cards, etc. The artwork is mainly stolen from the Call of Cthulhu card game, but that's not a bad thing as the art for that is spectacular.
When the game starts each player randomly chooses or selects his character. Each character has different possible skill levels, a special ability, and different starting items which makes for a different game no matter who you play as. After characters are chosen and the board setup one of the ancient ones is randomly selected. This is the ancient one that will be attempting to awaken and pass through a portal into Arkham. Each ancient one has different effects on the board and their cultists are usually given unique powers. Finally before the game starts an even card (called a Mythos card) is drawn. These cause portals to other dimensions to open around the town and can cause different events to happen. From ice storms moving through town slowing movement to an experiment gone bad releasing monsters from Miskatonic U. The portals that these cards open (they are drawn at the end of each round) are the heart of the game. Monsters will usually appear at these portals and it is the goal of the investigators to close down these portals before they overrun the town.
So as the game progresses players can move about town fighting the monsters that appear, exploring other dimensions to allow them to close the attached portals, going to different locations to face random encounters, buying items and spells at the local stores, etc. Each player can choose whatever actions he wants to try and help fight the evil. Be that quietly building up power to face the ancient one as it comes through the portal, or attempting to close down all the portals before the ancient evil has a chance to come through.
The only possible problems I've seen with the game are that it doesn't actually scale to the number of players, so the more people you have the easier it will be, while with a handful of players it will be difficult. In addition the ancient ones are not al created equal with some of them (Cthulhu I'm looking at you) being significantly harder then others and some being slightly easier. The other side to this though is that since the game is coop there's no real problem with people playing 1 or 2 characters to fill things out if needs be. I've also heard calls that the rules, while not overly complex, do have quite a few different rules to remember in a myriad of different situations. After a couple games I feel I have it down pretty well thanks in part to the excellent manual. It's very logical and well laid out for the most part.
If you in any way like the works of Lovecraft you owe it to yourself to at least try the game. It captures the feel of impending doom quite well.