30 Reviews in 30 Days, Day 12 – Mirror’s Edge

When the first videos for Mirror’s Edge debuted, I remember being really impressed. Visually, it was a stunning game, with a realism that was just awe inspiring. As more came out about the game, I found myself getting more excited to step into the role of Faith in this not so distant future where runners are used to carry important messages in order to bypass a corrupt police state. The game seemed full of promise, and I was itching to play it.

One thing should have clued me into the fact this game might not be as good as I was thinking. I was visiting my local Play N Trade and noticed they had Mirrors Edge set up on one of the 360 consoles, so I decided to try it. It was not long before I found myself getting quickly frustrated, especially when I was suddenly dropped into a area with three armed guards and just kept dying. I figured that I had missed the tutorial and would be better equipped to play the game if I started from the beginning.

Turns out I was wrong.

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Mirror’s Edge had all the makings of a great game. It just fell short.

It seemed like such a good idea

As I mentioned earlier, you take on the role of Faith in Mirror’s Edge. You are a runner: a message deliverer who uses parkour to traverse the roof tops and deliver sensitive materials people do not want to fall into the hands of the totalitarian government. When your sister is framed for murder, you make it your mission to clear her name and bring to light the conspiracy that left the one person who might change things dead. Not the most original plot line, but it had potential.

Mirror’s Edge was going to be a unique experience for gamers. Faith was not a combatant; she was a runner. As such, it would be to your advantage to use the environment to avoid conflicts. You also have what they call “Runner Vision,” which marks in red the areas you need to go to proceed further into the levels. You had to be able to run, jump, roll and time your movements right to be able┬áto reach the next area, and this was something that was supposed to be simple.

Notice I said “supposed to be simple.” That’s because it is not. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is the choice of first person perspective. While that does give you a feel for the speed of movement, it makes it a little hard really measure jumps and other actions. I understand it was a design choice, but I cannot help but feel like it may have been better and easier to play in third person. The other problem is the button combinations for movement are not intuitive. When you are rapidly having to remember a whole series of button presses just to complete a jump, you find you are so focused on the buttons you are not being drawn into the game itself. Compared this to the ease of similar movements in games like Assassin’s Creed, Damnation or Prince of Persia, and Mirror’s Edge just seems needlessly complex. I even menti0ned on a podcast this game made me realize how much I would not have liked Assassin’s Creed if I had to push a button for each movement.

And then there’s the combat

While the movement in this game is overly complex, the combat is just flat out broken. Once again, this was a design choice, and in this case it was a poor one. Faith is not a fighter, and the game designers wanted to make sure you knew this. As a result, they made it very difficult to deal with anymore than one enemy at a time.

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Mirror’s Edge’s Graphics are impressive. Its gameplay…not so much.

Fighting in this game is just flat out clunky. You can try to get up close and deal with an opponent in hand to hand combat, but generally you are not going to win a straight up fight. You can slide into an opponent and kick them, but it is really hard to be accurate with that, and if you miss you leave yourself wide open for counter attacks. In the end, your best bet is to try and get in close enough the enemy decides for some reason to try and hit you with the gun instead of shoot you. The gun will turn red for a short period of time as the enemy takes a swing at you, and if you hit the right button, you can disarm him. While the concept is not a bad one, there is a major flaw in it: for some reason, enemies with bigger guns take less time swinging them back to hit you, so you have less time to disarm. This almost seems counter intuitive, but then again so does hitting someone with a gun in the first place.

The problematic combat would not be that big of an issue if you could avoid fighting. The biggest problem with this game is, for a game that is not supposed to be about combat, you sure find yourself in many areas where you have to rely on it at least to an extent. In other words, you have to use this broken fighting system to get through areas of the game. I wish the developers had actually decided to either give you the chance to avoid the combat or make the fight controls work. This was just way too frustrating.

And so the game falls short

I really wanted to like Mirror’s Edge. The anime cut scenes were a nice touch. The story, while nothing new, was intriguing. Some of the parkour elements in the game were really impressive. After getting about five or six levels into the game, however, I found myself getting much too frustrated with it to keep playing. I was tired of hitting several buttons to make any kind of significant movement in the game. I was ready to throw my controller the next time I actually had to engage an enemy in combat. In the end, I decided I had just had enough and sent the game back to Gamefly.

What else can I say? This game is not horrible by any means, but I cannot bring myself to recommend it. If you really want to play it, I would recommend renting it first so you don’t find yourself regretting the purchase. Mirror’s Edge gets a 2 out of 5.

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7 thoughts on “30 Reviews in 30 Days, Day 12 – Mirror’s Edge

  1. So basically you found the game personally challenging and that makes it bad?? The whole game is focused on your ability to accurately control your character. If that game system had been largely been automated the challenge would be gone. I'm also not sure why you found the combat system difficult…I had no problems taking out large groups as long as you approached them intelligently.

    Now if you want to complain I'm surprised you did not mention the climbing system. Myself and several friends found that–for whatever reason–the Faith character would just not grab onto the object you're leaping toward. I chalk this one up to level designer error, since most of the time this system worked except with certain areas. There was one level in particular that it just refused to grab hold on a very, very easy jump. One time I accidentally flung myself out into the open air but instead of dying like I thought I should I found my character being "sucked" sideways to a nearby wall in an edge walk. Huh?

    Then of course there's the lackluster "boss" and ending that leaves you hanging… Except for those few things that marred its enjoyability I would have given Mirror's Edge a 4 out of 5.

  2. Yeah, this is one game people are definitely on the fence about, some people like it, others don't. In some ways you always want to applaud initiative and creativity whenever it's demonstrated and we all want new IP's to succeed but at the end of the day if it doesn't cut it, it doesn't cut it. At least Dead Space came through.

    I know they were going for full immersion but first person was the wrong choice for a platform intensive game. I know this is a weird comparison but think of the agility and tight control in Mario 64 for instance. I've always been impressed with the naturally acrobatic capabilities of that ability set as one of the best control schemes in any video game. With all the moves and jumps you could do some pretty dynamic maneuvering and impressive combos with ease. No thinking twice about which button you need to hit before a big jump. The ME dev's needed to simplify things and concentrate on the joy and ease of movement rather than attempting to capture some type of VR experience.

  3. It had nothing to do with it being challenging. I play several games that are challenging. I just felt they threw too much at you for what they were trying to do. I know some people really got into it and learned to master the controls. More power to them. I got so frustrated I did not want to take the time.

    I have never said nor will I ever say everyone should agree with my opinion. That's all reviews are: the opinions of the reviewers. This game did not end up being my cup of tea. If you liked it, that's great.

  4. I agree. I know when I played the demo, it was just to hard to not be able to see it in third person. Its like you see on the podcast, you NEED to be able to see it. It felt unnatural

  5. I agree. I know when I played the demo, it was just to hard to not be able to see it in third person. Its like you said on the podcast, you NEED to be able to see it. It felt unnatural

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