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Mirror’s Edge Review

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Mirrors Edge was released back in 2008 and believe it or not this year was quite the year for EA releasing new IPs to the new consoles. We got Army of Two, Dead Space, and Mirror’s Edge all in the same year. Now whether you like these titles or not is a matter of opinion but this was a good time to be a gamer. Despite my love for survival horror and heartily awaiting the arrival of Dead Space, it was hard to ignore just how unique and different Mirror’s Edge looked. It’s time to revisit this title and see how it holds up today.

Jam’s Take

Mirror’s Edge puts you in the shoes of Faith, a parkour runner on a mission to help her sister. The game is set in a very clean and white utopian city. I mean you have to give the game points for this straight off, its not various shades of brown or grey like we were used to in most games of the time. You’ll spend most of the game leaping between rooftops and then occasionally running through office blocks. The game will highlight the areas you need to jump to in red making it fairly easy to find your way around in this very white city.

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Many gamers argued back in the day and probably still do that Mirror’s Edge is nothing more than a tech demo. While this statement does hold some truth the game is trying something new and does keep the formula very simple. It still feels like a fully fleshed out game with an interesting plot and providing a gameplay experience which you’ll surely never forget. It is however, a question of whether you will actually enjoy the experience.

The game is entirely in the first person perspective. You’ll be running up walls, leaping from buildings, basically platforming you would probably find relatively simple in third person but turns out to be quite difficult to get to grips with. It of course starts of with a tutorial to get you used to the general controls but this really is a control scheme that is completely different from any game you have played before. So for a lot of gamers this will be a steep learning curve. The good news is you don’t have a be a parkour master of the controls to finish the game. Even after replaying the game I wasn’t getting through the levels smoothly, but I was still having a good time. If you do master the controls it does look pretty amazing to watch.

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The game very occasionally with throw in some shooting segments. You are able to beat the holy hell out of enemies as well as disarm them and use their own weapons against them. Ammo is very sparse so it’s unlikely you’ll be relying on the weapons for long. These traditional first person shooter moments do appear very out of place for this type of game and really only appear to provide a gameplay element that is familiar to long time FPS fans. Interestingly enough there is an achievement you can obtain if you are able to complete the game without using any guns on enemies.

The game is accompanied by a pretty impressive soundtrack. It fires off during those moments where things get quite frantic. Even when it’s quiet the sounds of you jumping and rolling around the environments only adds to the immersion. Shame that the sound I kept hearing over and over was me falling off buildings and hitting the floor. Don’t worry you don’t see anything and fortunately the load times are not too long.

Mirror’s Edge is not a very long game you can easily get through the campaign within a long weekend. You can replay levels in the game and try to complete them in quicker times. Since I struggled enough with the controls there was no way I was replaying this game faster. Short also feels appropriate for the game length though as any longer would have just felt dragged out.

Overall, Mirror’s Edge is a very unique game however, it’s not for everyone. The idea is fantastic the main protagonist is cool but with the difficult controls it’s hard to recommend this to everyone. I feel this is a game that everybody should try and experience since it is different and to this day it can be found very cheap. I’m interested to see what will become of the upcoming follow up Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, however, after this experience I wasn’t left wanting more.

Final Score: 3 out of 5 (review policy)

Fred’s Take

Mirror’s Edge was a very safe aesthetic when it arrived combined with a very unsafe game mechanic.  The first-person perspective, especially when it comes to platforming, has always been a stumbling block for gaming resulting in moments like those hateful moments on Xen in Half Life.  Dice, the development team behind this title, did an exceptional job of making that awkward mechanic work the way you intend, making some very complicated platforming a breeze and right at home through the eyes of protagonist Faith.  As I mentioned at first, the game is also gorgeous, continuing to impress seven years later with a unique, stripped, but clean aesthetic that looks great on consoles and dazzles on PC.  When you look at it only through screen shots there is no doubt you want to see more.

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It would have been great if that’s all the game was – sprinting through gorgeous environments to get from point A to point B – but that’s an awful lot of real estate and time to dedicate to a title that even with the slowed pace at times, can be beaten in a handful of hours (4-6).  To elongate things, Dice integrated combat, which is still the worst aspect of the game and probably responsible for most people quitting so regularly on a game that is so short.  At best it’s a grueling, annoying, repetitive process to get though the handful of bad guys that have a steep advantage on you and at worst it’s a mechanic that simply doesn’t work.  Most of the enemies you will face will be armed, a majority arriving in packs, and all of which have pretty spot-on aiming to take you out.  This is problematic because you get forced into combat you don’t want where fighting seems like a mistake but at times is the forced option in order to move on.  This has you trying certain areas over and over, hoping to get lucky enough and be perfect enough to take out the 3-5 guys that stand between you and more fun.  My annoyance with this mechanic becomes twofold when the game devolves to using it almost exclusively near the end.  Despite this, you are encouraged to find a way through the game without killing anyone, which also means you probably shouldn’t fire a gun (except for the single instance you are forced to in the campaign).  If you can handle the annoyance and repeats, I highly recommend going through the game without using guns or killing people as this not only increases the challenge and completion time quite a bit (about seven hours), but you can imagine it’s how the real Faith would proceed.

Cutscenes also take on a unique style that is somewhat comic book.

Cutscenes also take on a unique style that is somewhat comic book.

Beyond the hiccups with the combat there’s really little negative to say about Mirror’s Edge.  It’s a freeing thrill ride of a game that even today had my heart racing and was a ton of fun to experience.  This is an anomaly because it shouldn’t work, it shouldn’t be this fun, but it is.  If you’re playing on a controller there is an odd decision to use the left bumper (or L1) as the jump button, but with what we recently saw in Dying Light this was not only an ideal choice but one that you can quickly master.  Perhaps this isn’t the best mentality, but this is a fantastic first attempt to a concept I would like to see built out more.  It works perfectly fine for what it is at this length and complexity but the game would be less if it contained much more.  We get to see Faith, her world, the people in it, and the life she leads; beyond that I would need a more fleshed out world that involves more than running through obstacle courses with some janky combat mixed in.  This is what makes the potential of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst so great, especially because we’ve seen it properly implemented in Dying Light using the Dead Island style but now I want to see it in the anti-combat “utopian” Faith style.  So whether you like it or not, Mirror’s Edge serves as a super fun proof of concept for a larger vision.

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In the end this all wraps up into a fast-paced, incredible way to kill a weekend.  The graphics still hold up today and given the hardware specs of both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, Mirror’s Edge is a testament to the graphical prowess of last generation.  Playing this today on a beefier PC that can integrate full 1080p, high detailed textures, and of course all of the fun Nvidia PhysX particle effects like flapping plastic and shattering glass, the game becomes even more vivid.  If you’ve never touched Mirror’s Edge and have a little time, strap on your running shoes and take it for a spin.  You might get stuck – and it’s your prerogative if you want to power through or just quit – but one thing’s for sure, it will leave you psyched for the future potential of the concept.

Final Score: 4 out of 5

Want more information on Mirror’s Edge like release date, platforms, and availability?  Check out the profile page.

Written by jamalais

June 23, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Posted in PC/Mac, PS3, Reviews, Xbox 360

Tagged with , ,

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