BTW Dragonfall is getting a standalone
How does this stack up against the vanilla version? [...] There weren't a whole lot of side-quests either.
Note: I'm a huge fan of the Shadowrun Flux-State Berlin and a lot of the stories and P&PRPG material surrounding it. Even if the real-life city is changing away from the base they used to craft it (like all major cities are, gentrification and all) they nailed how the city could evolve and feel in an Shadowrun envoirment. So take all what I say with that in mind
It's a lot better. NPCs are much less disposable and more endearing (one of the greatest flaw of the original). I found the plot gripping and rich (though the finale played out a little bit too long IMO; if it is predictable depends on how well you know Shadowrun-version of Germany
). The atmosphere is spot on (Kreuzbasar feels like the late 90s, early 2000s Kreuzberg).
The sequence of levels is broken up for the middle of the story, making the middle parts of the story a good non-linear experience; you can chose your Runs freely, there are extra Runs and Objectives depending how and if you interact with certain NPCs.
Side-note: it really bugged me that if I wanted to play a ranged character with grenades, then I had to invest in strength and stuff that didn't really matter.
That's a thing in the Shadowrun core rules, not an issue with the game; I have the same issue with the fact that you don't have any other way to gain Etiquettes (aka "Talking the talk"-new dialogue options) then leveling your charisma, which is a poor choice for my favoured Decker/Rigger build (though in the P&PRPG you can circumvent that)