Mirror's Edge Developer DICE Publisher EA Genre Action Platform Xbox 360, Playstation 3 Release Out Now
The story follows a late-teens/early-twenties Faith Connors who is a 'Runner'. These Runners are the only form of communication yet to be censored or controlled by an oppressive, totarialistic government who wants to suppress all illicit communication to ensure peace and prosperity. We join Faith returning to work from what seemed to be a nasty fall. Now back in action, her first job goes less than smoothly with the CPF (Crime Prevention Force, or "Police" as I will refer to them as) starts opening fire on them. Startled by the Police's over-zealous and heavy-handed approach to merely seeing Faith, Merc(ury) -- who is Faith's boss and your general guide through out the game -- starts digging into what the government are doing. Soon, however, Faith's sister is framed for the murder of a political figure and family friend of the Connor's, Faith must rescue her sister and find out who and what is after them and fellow Runners.
The game's story is told in a few different ways. A lot of the current action in the game is always shown in a first person perspective in stages. There's very rarely a time where the game takes a 3rd person view, keeping you forever immersed in Faith, quite literally. There's also a series of 2D animations which is played during the opening of each chapter. The 2D animations take a bit of getting used to, as the game has such a beautiful in-game graphic style which is very contrasting against the mediocre animated 2D sequences. An attempt to be more stylish than required means that storytelling in the game seems disjointed. Another interesting and far more engaging storytelling method used is the use of scrolling news updates which are usually displayed during elevator loading sequences (oldest trick in the book, loading wise) and on TVs and Radios through out stages. These bulletins can sometimes be missed by a player on their first run-through as they will be more anticipating what lies ahead, however does give a lot of insight to the back-story of Mirror's Edge.
The game's progression is simply this; Start Mission, Run, Run, Run, Tricky Puzzle Jumping, Die, Die, Die, Get it right, [Combat, Die, Combat, Run] repeat until Mission End. There are a few deviations to the rule, however the formula is very much the same, not that this is a bad thing. Learning that you have to just simply get to a certain point in the level to end the mission will probably be the greatest advise I could give someone. Many minutes I spent trying to look for specific items I was meant to focus on because the game doesn't clearly state what you're supposed to be doing at any one time. This is a huge flaw in Mirror's Edge, while some games give you far too much information, Mirror's Edge gives you far too little and you'll be wandering around wondering just what exactly could be happening in the stage to help you progress quite a bit. The game asks a bit too much of the player at times, expecting them to know that random things are important even though they're not, or items like them in the past highlighted using the Runner Vision.
Runner Vision is a unique assistant in Mirror's Edge. While the world around you is made up of primary 'soft' colours like Blue, White, Black and (although not a primary colour;) orange. Runner Vision stands out as a sharp red colour which indicates to players that they can use this piece of scenery to progress. There is an option to turn off the Runner Vision and the Hard setting of the game requires players to go without Runner Vision at all. When the system works, it's a vitally helpful feature of the game and will help you through your several run-troughs of the game. However, the system just becomes unloved as the game progresses with the cues to turn items red delayed and the opportunity to miss a vitally important piece of scenery is missed, leading to a frustrating death. Important switches or pipes which you could use suddenly don't activate and by this stage in the game you've learnt that if it isn't red, it's basically useless to you. After a few play-troughs I get varying results of helpfulness from the Runner Vision. Despite myself already knowing the route I have to take, I couldn't help but notice something not turning red when it should have done. Runner Vision also becomes your lifeline during the game, however it seems DICE leads you into a false sense of security with the later stages in the game tricking you by placing red-coloured but useless items in tense moments which require quick thinking to escape from. Not cool. There's also whole hallways bathed in the colour red which can be misleading.
Phew, off-of gameplay and onto visuals. What can I say? The game is amazing and flawless in appearance. There are very few games which can match Mirror's Edge's unique art style, surreal environments and mindbogglingly detailed character models. While some characters have rather uncanny movements which seem blocky and unrealistic, you can easily overlook these flaws and just admire the beauty of the game. It seems there's still blood to be drawn out of this generation's stone, how much can be drawn still is quite an interesting prospect. Transitions to red for the Runner Vision look natural and don't break up the experience. The game will always tell you vital information including the amount of speed you have behind you using subtle on-screen visuals and sound effects. It takes a bit of adjusting to, but once you are acquainted with Mirror's Edge's mechanics, you're solid. The game packs a lot of eye candy, but just be warned. Those who get motion sick may have some problems with Mirror's Edge. As you are seeing everything from Faith's point of view through-out the game, you'll also follow her as she does somersaults, jumps, knocks, tumbles and whatever else she may be doing. The internet is a buzz with stories of motion sickness related problems with Mirror's Edge and unfortunately one of my spectators during my run-through was also feeling rather queasy after a few minutes, although I think it may have just been how bad I was playing. Who knows?
Audio, the game is a wash with wonderful sound effects; with realistic high-pitch squealing of car breaks, distant car horns, planes flying over head and a relaxing score of synthesised music during combat and puzzles alike. It's all unique sounding, the only game which I could think of to try and compare it with would be the Nintendo 64 game; Perfect Dark. But even then it's a stretch. You can't quite explain how weird yet awesome the soundtrack is. Distinctive and under-powering, it fails to really make the mood of the game however keeps you entertained in-between countless deaths and failure the game will present. Sound effects are all coherent and while there seems to be a rather jarring lack of them through-out the game, you wont feel lost without them. It just would have been nice to have them.
Overall then, Mirror's Edge is an ambitious game which EA hyped up to be the Second Coming in video game form. It's not. When it boils down, Mirror's Edge is a nice attempt to be bold, different and delivers on both points. However, it does so at a cost. There's no freedom in the game. You're teased with a big, open city but you're unable to explore it. There's only ever one solution to a puzzle and one route to get from A to B. The game doesn't even give you the illusion of freedom, as you're strung together by a bunch of boring and rather FPS-cliche air-ducts and corridors filled with unexplorable rooms. The game teases you with all the things you wanted from it yet fails to deliver. It's replay value drops significantly because of this and most players will probably give up after their 20th death on the same jump on the same puzzle which most likely isn't their fault, just poor design choices on small sections of the game. Mixed together with an uninspiring soundtrack (however nice it is) and amazing visuals, Mirror's Edge stacks up to be merely average instead of fantastic, which is a shame because I gave this game every chance to impress. I went out of my way to love this game, but instead I merely like it. I recommend this game as a rental and I would even suggest it as a purchase, however I'm glad I didn't pay the absolute full price for this game, as it is undeserving of the £39.99 they're asking for.