After three grueling days of slaving over what felt like the instructions for a tax form, referring me back and forth within the document but never quite gelling, I believe I may have figured out the basics.
Three kinds of stats for your character:
ATTACK - used to attack other players
STEALTH - used to attack databases
DEFEND - used to defend from attacks in Data Space or from random encounters in the Sprawl
Each of these can refer to either Real Space or Data Space:
SWAT means it is referring to Real Space
ICE means it is referring to Data Space
So, Attack ICE would be your stat to attack another player in Data Space, Attack SWAT would be your stat to attack another player in Real Space, and so on.
Each of these stats are ZERO for each player, only modified by cards, which are self-explanatory.
If all of this had been explained like the above in the BEGINNING of the rules, it would not have taken me this long to figure out how to play. Perhaps I'll do a rules rewrite...
Finally got to try this and I agree - the rules make a very simple game overly complex. Who wrote those? Once we played a few rounds we realized the mechanics are fairly simple.
It's a basic adventure game a la Arkham Horror or Talisman - collect all the gear you can to enhance your stats, while hacking and attacking your way to fame - last man standing wins.
The only thing still unclear to me is whether the intent of the rules were that you can move (travel) AND do an action in your turn. The rules state "On your turn, you can do 1 of the following actions:"...and in the list is "travel"...then the example that follows it clearly shows a character "travel", then do one of the other actions all in one turn. Great clarity of rules writing there. We just went with "travel, then choose an action" each turn.