Mirror’s Edge Review
Let me paint a picture for you. You have immense speed and skill, and you enjoy spending your days dashing across rooftops and stringing together jumps, rolls, wall-runs and other various maneuvers of parkour to your heart’s content, all while dodging trigger-happy enemies on your way to complete your decided mission. Suddenly, your thrill ride is interrupted because you just can’t reach that darn ledge, even though it’s right there above you, or because you’ve hit a dead end, and you have no time to find your way out, on account of the security force right behind you.
Mirror’s Edge by EA puts players in a city of tall buildings, working against conspiracies by powerful men, and constantly finding ways to duck the police force (or “blues”) on your tail. The player takes control of Faith, one of a group of runners who illegally work against the men in power, hence the police. Usually, this involves transporting information or packages. It makes a pretty decent premise, but… I have good news and I have bad news.
I’ll give you the good news first. All that wall-running, sliding, sprinting and jumping really is fun. There are some areas where I got caught up in the moments, during which I blew by heavily armed security members, ran, jumped and climbed to find whatever routes over, across and through buildings that were available to me, and found the distance traveled surprisingly large. Along the way, I got to use ziplines and smash through doors and glass windows, all contributing further to my sense of unrivaled speed. When confronted, I strategically selected the easiest targets and deftly disarmed them, using their weapons to neutralize the rest of the blues. There are also slower jumping and climbing puzzles, which challenged me to carefully select the parts of the environment around me through which I can find a route. Tense, fast-paced music emphasized the action, and slower tracks accompanied the puzzle sequences, both types of music being well done. The graphics were also excellent. Besides a case of slightly overdone glare, there’s not really anything wrong with the visual aspect. There is attention to detail and smooth use of graphics effects. Every area has its own color scheme, which gives a wonderfully surprising transition when you smash through a door. For example, outside, among buildings and rooftops is primarily white and blue, but upon making your way inside, you may be met with an environment in which almost everything is green or orange. What you end up with is a striking, yet realistic representation of the game environment.
Sprinkled throughout the good news, however, was the bad news. During a surge of speed, it’s unfortunate when I get smashed in the face with an apparent dead end. Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy to solve puzzles, that’s one of the game’s stronger points. However, the timing in some of them really brings that high crashing down. Nowhere is this more true than when you’re being chased by the aforementioned blues. On these occasions, I usually had to take several tries, just because I didn’t have the time to really search for the path for a getaway. There is also the problem of extremely touchy context sensitivity. You never really know if you’re going to grab that ledge you’re trying to reach or not. Sometimes I would wallrun when I didn’t mean to, or vice versa. If there was some subtlety in the controls that determines these things, I was never told. These things don’t bode well when you’re on a timed run, or when you’re being chased by blues, or when not acting like you expected results in an untimely fall; in any case, they can definitively destroy that sense of speed, instead bringing the game to a level of repetitive tries, something entirely different than what I wanted out of the game. At least for me, it happened often enough to put something of a damper on the gameplay experience. I’ve been told by a PS3 owner that he didn’t experience these problems like I did on the XBox 360, so maybe it’s just a problem with this particular port.
This game is a mixed bag with me. It really has some great qualities, enough to make it really fun, but there are certain other qualities that can get in the way. Enjoy those great moments that you can, but don’t expect to make it through in one sweeping sprint.
Feel free to leave comments with your take on the game, as well as the review.