Game Review: Mirror’s Edge

I remember seeing ads for this game and thinking that it was interesting, but the steep price tag kept me from buying it. On the first day of the Steam Winter Sale, however; it was down from $10 to just $5, so I thought I might as well give it a go.

Also, I might have been watching James Heaney from Gamefront tackle Mirror’s Edge in James vs. Games that week, that might have been what piqued my interest.

For those who aren’t familiar with this game, Mirror’s Edge is a first person action platformer with a bit of shooty gun action. In the not-so-distant future where a totalitarian government (because what is the future without a totalitarian government?) tightly controls access to information, couriers known as Runners ferry sensitive information to clients using the city rooftops. You play as Runner Faith Connors, who is searching for the people responsible for framing her sister for murder. It’s not exactly mind-blowing storytelling, but it’s something to string together gameplay sequences, so, yeah.

Speaking of gameplay, take Prince of Persia (the first series, not the reboot) give the Prince a gun and put it all in first person perspective, and you kind of have Mirror’s Edge. You’ll be doing a lot of running, jumping, and climbing in Mirror’s Edge, and you’ll also be falling to your doom….a lot. The game stresses the need to keep running, the longer you maintain your momentum, the faster you go….

….Until you have to stop and figure out where the Hel you’re supposed to be going next.

See, Mirror’s Edge has some great ideas. It’s exhilarating when you pull off a difficult maneuver without pausing to assess where you are, and some sequences–such as Faith jumping between cranes at the end of one of the levels–are just awesome. I’m a little wary of first person perspectives, but I didn’t find it too disorienting, although I am more accustomed to the over-the-shoulder third-person perspective.

However, it’s ironic that the game stresses not breaking the “flow” of the movement when most of the time, the flow was broken by the game crashing (or pulling some weird crap with my graphics card) and I felt like the best sequences were out in the open air. Seriously, small cramped spaces are cool and all, but I didn’t like how the devs seemed to contrive reasons for Faith to end up in them, especially when, as I said, there’s a huge emphasis on continuous movement. Game, y u breaking my flow? The other thing the game encourages you to do is run from the cops–and then it sticks you in a room with a bunch of cops who will turn you into Swiss cheese if you try to run. You can just disarm them, but I was in a hurry, so I tended to go for the kill when I couldn’t run away.

The graphics are….interesting. Much of the cityscape is rendered in stark white (apparently the future is very utilitarian) with occasional splashes of colour. The colour to watch for is red, for that reason, I definitely don’t recommend playing this if you’re colour-blind, so if you do get stuck, all you need to do is look for the closest red thing and run towards it (this also applies to red buttons and red doors). I guess it fits the future-y motif, but why are there silver trees? I guess they killed all the real ones. As for the cutscenes, have you ever seen any of those Expedia commercials? Yeah, the cutscenes look like Expedia commercials.

As far as length goes, it took me a lot longer to complete this game than it should have, because I only played a chapter a day, and accidentally deleted my save, so I had to start over. Once you know where to go, though, each chapter will take a few minutes to play through, and unless you really want to collect all the messenger bags and whatnot, there isn’t really any incentive to play it again. Overall, it does some interesting things, and maybe that makes up for its shortcomings, but I don’t think I’d pay more than $10 for it.

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