I absolute adored this game when it came out. I tend to like my sci-fi a bit more gritty than the typical Traveller-esque space opera (although I have a serious nostalgia soft spot for that game). This cover, from the original edition, roped me in the moment I laid eyes on it.
The chick looks coolly dangerous, with that big ass gun and dog-thing. The guy looks a little less capable, holding his big ass gun with both hands and looking like that is as high as he can get it. His helmet looks entirely too big, and his entire impression is of a kid playing with his daddy's military gear. But that chick can probably take care of whatever happens without him, anyway.
Their ship is at a very awkward angle, but it has "REBCO SAR" stenciled on the hull, so I'm OK with it. SAR stands for Search and Rescue (in case you didn't know). The early edition of this game was more focused on exploration than anything else. Naturally, some of those explorations would encounter problems and need rescue. This was, and is, an ideal campaign premise for me. A rescue team with a landing ship (the interstellar ships in 2300 aren't landers) being shuttled to a potentially hostile location to rescue some wayward explorers. Awesome stuff.
The choice of background was odd, though. It is a city on the second-most advanced and populated world in the 2300 universe. Rising near the right edge is the Beanstalk, one of two space elevators in the setting. Why someone needs such a well-armed and equipped SAR team less than 5 miles from a major population center is a bit curious.
Even so, this cover screamed my kind of sci-fi, and did not disappoint. However, like Star Frontiers, it did not include starship rules. Those came later, in the form of . . .
I really wanted to like Star Cruiser. That's not to imply that I didn't (or don't), it's just that I never played it. It's written from a very military/stellar navy perspective, to the point that most of the tech is of two types: military and old military. Obviously, the cutting edge tech is almost all military, while most of the best civilian tech is second-generation military. 2300AD never seems to have been intended to play out the merchant-prince type games Traveller supported. These rules didn't do anything for that, which didn't particularly bother me.
Owing to the harder sci-fi paradigm of the system, the only artificial gravity on these ships is inertially induced, mainly via spin-habitat crew quarters. I like this idea quite a bit to this day.
Mongoose came out with a version of 2300AD, as a supplement for its core Traveller rules. I haven't seen it, but it seems to have been well-received, aside from not being complete in itself. There is also a free fanzine, Colonial Times, that can be found on Drivethru RPG.
I've left out a lot about this game. Some of what I've said may be off a little, too. It's been far too long since I spent any time with it. If you like hard(ish) sci-fi, this one is well worth a look, even if you just adapt the fluff to your preferred system.