Published on January 31st, 2013 | by Duke0912
Review: Mirror’s Edge
Developer: EA Digital Illusions CE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
System(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Windows Phone
Release Date(s): November 12, 2008 (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, North America), November 13, 2008 (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Australia), November 14, 2008 (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Europe), January 13, 2009 (Microsoft Windows, North America), January 16, 2009 (Microsoft Windows, Europe and Australia), April 10, 2009 (iOS)
Platformers have the basic concept of running around, jumping from place to place, and solving a puzzle every now and then. Mirror’s Edge takes all of that and puts you in control from a first person point of view. It’s an interesting concept, but how well is the execution?
The games environment and structure center around a story that follows Faith, a young girl that works for a group called Runners. The Runners, well, run around a city delivering sensitive information while avoiding legal conflict for those who are unable to do so due to the corrupt government that has built up over time. Though life is comfortable and crime almost non-existent, all of communication is monitored and many sham trials are operated. As mayoral elections draw near for the dystopian city, Robert Pope, the new candidate, is assassinated in his office, and Faith’s sister, Kate, is framed for it. From this point on the game focuses around Faith searching for clues in order to prove her sister’s innocence, all while fending off government pursuit. Admittedly, when I first played the game I barely paid attention. Another time through however, and the story overall was pretty decent. There were some interesting plot points that kept my interest, but there were many things left unanswered in regards to characters and organizations.
The story is played out across chapters in which you run across rooftops, climb up buildings, and more. Anything that turns red when approaching it means you can interact with it in order to progress. This works out well since almost everything is white, but at the same time it can be so bright to the point where you can’t even see. In each chapter you will find runner bags, but they’re not placed in plain sight. You’ll have to explore each area thoroughly in order to find them all, and given how wide the areas are, exploration is encouraged. Sometimes though, the controls and mechanics may hold you back from doing so.
The controls are pretty straightforward in Mirror’s Edge. You control Faith with the left analog stick, the camera with the right analog stick, and your jumping and melee attacks with other buttons. By interacting with your environment, you can run along walls, move along zip lines, and more. Usually, if there’s a ledge within reach, Faith will grab on automatically when you jump towards it. However, there are times she completely ignores the edge, which can result in having to start over a puzzle, or even death. The issue isn’t limited to that though; sometimes she’ll perform a regular jump when trying to pull off a wall run, or jump off of an interactive object at an awkward angle. More than anything though, the biggest offender to me with Mirror’s Edge is the combat.
Trying to fight cops and disarm enemies with weapons is more awkward than it should be in this game. You can melee your enemies till you knock them out, but some will adjust to this and defend with their weapons and sneak a few hits on you. This is where you’ll have to disarm your opponent and take their weapon, but the timing can make this seem like an aggravating chore at times. In order to take your enemies weapon, they have to assault you with the gun itself, and for a brief period, the weapon will glow red in which you can perform a maneuver that not only takes their weapon, but renders your enemy unconscious. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I was killed trying to disarm an enemy because of the atrocious timing that has to be done. You can’t press the button too early, or too late; and even with Runner Vision, which slows down time temporarily, it seems like you can’t even be a millisecond off with your timing. There were instances where I pressed the button in order to take the weapon away at the exact moment it glowed red, but apparently it wasn’t timed right because I would take a swing to the head.
While on the subject of weapons, the first person shooting is sloppy and bare. There’s no way to take cover while aiming your shot, you can’t pick up extra ammo for the gun you’re carrying, and strafing is nonexistent. What makes things even more irritating about using guns is that they pretty much throw them at you towards the end of the campaign, almost feeling like a mediocre shooter instead of focusing on what makes this game unique.
I feel the game really shines when playing time trial, where it’s nothing but pure platforming and acrobatics. Each course is based off of an area found in story mode, and the main objective is to pass through checkpoints as fast as possible, and you receive a ranking based on how quickly you complete a course. After you finish at least once, your best run is represented as a red blur that you can race against, giving you a visual representation of what you can do to improve your time. I find myself coming back to this mode more often then the story, and to be honest, I wouldn’t mind if the game was completely comprised of just time trials.
I like Mirror’s Edge, but I was hoping to like it more than I do. It’s bogged down with the atrocious combat, and if it wasn’t for the fact that so much of it is thrown at you I wouldn’t mind it. The game leaves little room for error, and given how finicky things are with the gameplay it feels like a chore playing at times. With that said, I’d love to see a sequel to this game that focuses more on the acrobatic movements of your character, with some of the environment reactions tweaked a bit. It’s an okay start for the series, and I’m interested to see where they go with what they’ve done in this game in future projects.
+ Fluid movements when it works
+ Addicting time trials
– Environments can be too bright
– Unintentional maneuvers happen frequently
– Horrendous combat
– Relies heavily on trial and error
Final score: 3.25 out of 5