My wife also wants to try out the Shadowrun game I am joining, but she really prefers using swords over guns. So she was wondering if there is any way (with either skills, items, implants?) that she can do this without being a burden on the party. I figured with all of the tech there is some way to make the range and speed of guns a non-issue.
In general, guns are more powerful than swords, for a couple of reasons:
Swords have the following advantages:
Whether or not a sword character can be viable in Shadowrun depends a lot on the GM's style, the situation, and the strategies of the players. In a sniper battle at ranges of 500+ meters, or a car chase, a sword character is going to be relatively useless. In a close-quarters urban firefight, a sword character can potentially dominate the field.
I would recommend using one of the following play styles:
All three play styles allow for some kind of ranged attack (throwing weapons, or spells) to supplement sword-play and ensure that your character gets involved even when it's hard to close the gap.
It's worth mentioning that low-tech ranged weapons, like bows, can also be very effective in Shadowrun for a character with high strength, and don't suffer from some of a sword's obvious disadvantages.
If you're a GM, you should be aware of your party composition, and throw in challenges sometimes that appeal to your party's strengths. If you have a sword character in the party, throw them a couple of sword-wielding goons now and then to beat on.
You definitely can if you spend your BP well--I've seen a character who leaned on a bow & arrows, and some heavily modded punching, clean up in combat :p Shadowrun is a flexible system, and ideally the GM will take her character's strengths and weaknesses into account. Depending on the kind of adventure you're getting into, she might considering having another skill set besides fighting that will make her crucial to the party as well, such as wilderness survival, breaking and entering, or social manipulation.
If she's okay with playing a low-essence character, then there a lot of mods that will allow her to tank or ninja as she pleases. Getting modded for extra initiative passes (and generally pumping your reflexes) is a good place for a low-tech melee character to start; that way you can get in a lot of hits/close distance between you and an opponent/get behind something before other characters have time to react. She might consider taking a look through the Unarmed Combat/Martial arts qualities as well. If memory serves, there are a lot of advantages that even a vanilla metahuman can get through the special moves accompanying various marital arts.
Also, does she object to tech updates on fantasy-style weapons like, say, a monofilament sword? SR has some nice cyberpunk versions of old-fashioned weapons available. Basically, there's a lot of support in the system for characters with extreme, out-there shticks, and chances are that somewhere in SR there's a combination of stats and gear that makes it viable.