Mirror’s Edge is one of those games which have the potential to become big franchises or go straight down the toilet. It all depends on the public’s reaction, because the product is well done, complete and generally entertaining. Although I will not dare to make any predictions regarding Faith and Mirror Edge’s future, I will try to tell you just how pleasant can be to play a simple, well done game.
Initially delivered to consoles, Mirror’s Edge concept (basically a first person platformer) seemed to me like one more suitable to the mouse & keyboard play, and that’s why I have decided to wait for the PC version. Luckily, it was completely worth the wait and, without jumping to conclusions, the mouse & keyboard gameplay is indeed top notch. But more about this a bit later, since we have to know the story cooked by Dice for the game.
Mirror’s Edge literally puts you in the shoes of Faith, a parkour girl which is a messenger for an organization that has one major goal in mind: freedom of communication. It sounds strange, but since the game takes place in a city where the people are monitored all the time and the freedom of speech is not bigger than the freedom of a lion trapped in a bathroom, things will soon make sense. As Faith, the game’s heroine, you will have to deliver messages to revolutionary groups, save fellow messengers and… well, all sorts of things while trying to pay attention to the twists in the script.
However, even though a strong element, the game’s story is not the thing that will keep you going, but the gameplay itself, which says much about Mirror’s Edge quality. Basically, you’ll spend most of your time running on rooftops and building, jumping and sliding, climbing higher or crouching down ventilation areas. Which, initially, doesn’t seem like the most exciting thing to do, right? Especially in a first person view, which seems quite an inappropriate approach to the genre.
Fortunately, everything is done almost flawlessly and you’ll have the time of your life: soon enough you’ll be caught in an intense, lighting-fast race that takes place on rooftops, testing your reflexes and quickness. The first person view which will probably offer you some headaches in the first few minutes will soon become your second nature and the extremely easy but useful controls will help you keep on going without unnecessary problems.
Basically and up to a point, it’s Prince of Persian in first person – a bit more intense game, though and much easier to handle. I am by no means the most skilled gamer when it comes to such games, but still I mastered the controls in Mirror’s Edge faster than in any other similar game – and that’s awesome! Also, thanks to the extremely well done first person point of view, you will simply “feel” every jump, every fall and every leap you take (many of which are true “leaps of Faith”) will make you bite your lower lip.
However, this flawless gameplay is limited by an incredibly dull combat experience. Of course, Mirror’s Edge is not a combat game and by no means a first person shooter, but as long as such elements were implemented, it wouldn’t have hurt if they were done a bit more carefully. Or at least a bit more exciting (I mean, it’s Dice we’re talking about!). Therefore, gunplay is not at all satisfactory, unarmed combat is not at all effective nor rewarding, especially when more enemies are involved and, even though you can (and should) generally avoid combat, there are certain stages in which you have no other option than to fight and you’ll fully feel the limitations. Thankfully, the issues are not too bad and not at all deal breakers.
There are other drawbacks, too. The first person perspective is one of them: despite having the advantages presented before, it’s also kind of limiting: the view is limited to that of the first person perspective and there might be moments when you’ll have to stop and look around for the next red spot or, worse, go for the “trial and error technique”. You’ll do your share of blind jumps and guess work throughout your adventure, and all because of the limited view offered by the first person point of view. Of course, this could be considered as extra realism to the game, since if you were a real life Faith (or whatever) I doubt you would’ve seen more than Dice allows you to. However, it’s not real life and there might be a bit of frustration involved every here and then.
The biggest problem with Mirror’s Edge is, however, its length. It’s an incredibly short game (less than 7-8 hours) and even though there’s some kind of a replay value of the campaign and even though there are the multiplayer races and time trials, it would’ve still benefited more from a longer campaign.
Visually, the game is really well done and Mirror’s Edge delivers some very detailed graphics – maybe a bit too colorful for my taste, but still very well done. The level design is also great and, even though you will basically follow a pre-scheduled route, you’ll feel like you’re going the way you choose.
The sound is also incredible and it adds value to the game: Faith’s breath gets heavier as she runs, you can hear the clothes rustling, you can hear the wind blowing in your face (and almost feel it) and you will certainly enjoy the soundtrack, an ambiental electronic one – even I loved it, even though I’m not the biggest fan of electronic music!
Despite being short, Mirror’s Edge delivers quality – high quality – and it’s clearly a game worth playing. It is flawlessly done and the limitations of the first person view will not be felt at all, since you will always run and run and run, trying to find your way out of trouble, trying to beat your own records, trying to be better. It is intense and exciting and the poor combat experience never becomes a deal breaker. So have Faith in Mirror’s Edge and give it a try. You will probably be amazed.
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