We actually played Rifts the other day. Rifts Australia, to be exact!
One thing I did that was quite different was that the mission that was lined up, was very very short - it got completed in a short time. After that, I simply left the impression of the mysterious Australian bushlands and towns and the players started poking around. Also I was handing out XP for pretty much any character expression that happened - it was coming up naturally at first, but I think giving out XP helped bring out more of it. Keep in mind this was a reward not for whether it was 'cool' roleplay, it was XP for showing the character at all - it's the showing that matters, not the skill in delivery. Skill comes with practice, anyway! :)
I've got this idea for the rifts australia body armour - as it's supposed to have an AR. Which means instant death if an MD weapon hits over it's AR. What I've already done, which is kind of nifty, is to have scrap MDC. This is pieces and shards of broken MDC stuff, that's just tied together with SDC leather and SDC wire. Impacts from SDC attacks, like bullets swords and clubs can still tear apart those leather/wire bindings (the MDC shards then fall off). But if an actual MDC attack occurs, the MDC is worn down. This scrap MDC covers where the armours normal AR leaves off - leaving the character fully MDC protected, but still vulnerable to SDC weapons to a degree! Thus enabling both MDC and SDC combat!
But that's not the nifty idea, just yet. More latter...