I have Classic Spycraft but tend to find classic d20 games (d20 modern, D&D 3.5) to be too crunchy when it comes to emulating high-action movies such as Mission Impossible or James Bond.
I have the feeling an appropriate system would do the following:
- Allow players to build any character they like within the framework of the genre and with approval of the GM (that is, the system itself should not smother ideas through restricting classes and ability trees)
- Fast combat and action. There'll be explosions, car chases, gun fights... Retaining intensity with a good pacing is paramount.
- Not be too focused on precise positioning or 5ft squares.
- Not too lethal or gritty. Characters are going to be defying death a lot and should survive impossible odds while doing cool things.
- Allow players to be cool and competent almost immediately, though a margin for evolution would be nice to have. Basically, the game should not prevent a character from jumping on a table, then off, kicking a mook in the face and landing, ready with guns... just because he doesn't have 2 or 3 required feats. It's just as bad if the game allows it with a -10 penalty. Characters in such movies are expected to be doing that on a semi-regular basis.
Bonus trait: * Not be too abstract / narrative / story-game-like so new players to roleplaying games can rely on a modicum of crunch / structure to help their imagination.
Systems I'm thinking of: FATE (Spirit of the Century, possibly the new Fate Core), PDQ#, Cortex (of Serenity or standalone version), Mutants & Masterminds 3e. I have barely used any of these, so I'm unsure. Feel free to comment on their fitting my idea.
Systems I'd prefer avoiding: Spycraft, GURPS and anything crunchier such as HERO. Though as above, I haven't really played any of these, so if you really believe they fit, do mention why.