Excellent Illusion of Living World
One of the things that stood out in my mind, playing it recently for the first time, is how alive the world felt. You could log on to BBSes in the game and make posts. You could download files from them, and upload files on to other BBSes. The actual possibilities the game was able to compute were of course not too deep given the computing resources of a late-80s PC, but when playing it felt quite real.
The other great thing about the game was the music. I don't know how great the PC version sounded, but the Devo music that a C64 SID put out was wonderful. I still hum it every now and then.
Going along with the alluded realism, the world seemed to me too
open. While I'm not an excellent adventure gamer myself, it often seemed to vague as to what the player was supposed to do next in some situations.
Another big problem was the adaption. William Gibson originally wrote a very dark novel, while Interplay programmed it with a tongue-in-cheek style. Every now and then you get awareness of it being a computer game. There's also the program floating around on one of the BBSes called Battle Chess 3000...
The Bottom Line
A combination of William Gibson's dark world and the tongue-in-cheek attitude of early adventure games.