I've been playing Rifts
for about 15 years now, and it is my favorite Tabletop RPG. What I like the most about the game is the blend of genres possible in the game. You can play any kind of character you want, and any setting or blend of settings. Rifts lets you cut your imagination loose in a way that few other games allow.
The complaints I see regarding Rifts
fall into two broad categories: Power Gaming and Power Creep. In my opinion, both are non-issues. The Zeroth Law of any RPG is: If you don't like something about the game, don't use it. Kevin Siembieda isn't gonna kick your door down because he heard you don't use anything from Naruni Wave 2
. But putting that aside, in my years of playing I can't think of a single case where Power Creep was ever an issue in my group. I still make characters out of the first book, use weapons and equipment from the first book, mixed in with stuff from other books, and have never had a real problem.
One example off the top of my head: I played in a campaign that lasted about three years (that's in real time, mind), where I was a Mind Melter. Mind Melters are psychic characters with access to a more diverse range of psychic powers than any other class. By the end of the campaign, my character had more powers that I knew what to do with. My character was also the weakest in the party. Because I didn't design him to be a powerhouse. By the end of the campaign, my character was running a major mercenary company, and had personal and business ties with some of the most powerful people in the setting, while the rest of the party was mostly content to rack up body counts or go after other personal goals. The point, though, is that we all had fun, which at the end of the day is the only real way to gauge how good or bad a game us.
On another Power Gaming related note: yes, Rifts
has plenty of potential for Hack-and-Slash. But that's not all Rifts is good for. There's just as much room for intrigue, politicking, or any other game you want to play. There's also been Munchkins in games I've played, and they've usually been the least effective members of the group.
If you've been thinking about trying this game, but you've heard bad things about Power Gaming aspects, remember that Rifts
, like any other game, is about what you want to do with it.