Mirror's Edge Review
- Posted December 2nd, 2008 at 07:47 EDT by Steven Williamson
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Mirror's Edge is both unique and stimulating, but it rapidly loses momentum after a great start.
- Visually stimulating
- Simple, but fun to execute free-running moves
- Combat is useless
- Enemies constantly on your tail gets annoying
- Interior locations - bland level design
By using the increasingly popular free-running activity of Parkour as its theme and mixing it with a story of murder and intrigue, EA’s DICE Studio certainly deserves credit for thinking outside of the conventional box. Despite some thrills along the way though it’s an experiment that ultimately fails to provide the exhilarating and free-flowing first person action experience that we’d hoped. Mirror’s Edge is a great concept that starts off well, but doesn’t quite live up to its full potential and dazzling good looks.
By giving you control over a range of intuitive and fun-to-execute acrobatic free-running moves, Mirror’s Edge shows great promise in the initial stages as you vault impressively over fences, scale buildings, shimmy up drainpipes and make huge leaps of faith across rooftops in an attempt to smoothly traverse the sparkling and stylishly designed metropolis. However, during the first half-an-hour or so of springing, sliding and jumping across the environment you’ll have experienced practically everything, certainly all the good things anyway, that the game has to offer. The fast pace, the feeling of speed and the flowing movement of free-running that is so accurately captured in the preliminary levels also fails to filter into the latter parts of the game where the action slows down considerably before grinding to an abrupt halt at its unsatisfactory conclusion, a measly 5 to 6 hours later.
Set within the confines of a totalitarian regime, where all forms of communication are strictly monitored by the powers that be, the story of Mirror’s Edge follows Faith, a free-running courier who spends her days working above the law sprinting across the city, dodging government officials along the way in order to deliver sensitive data to a group of revolutionaries. It’s a story-line that had great potential, but even with the nicely drawn anime cut-scenes that accompany each chapter, yet never quite live up to the quality of the gorgeous in-game graphics, it soon dies its death and becomes nothing more than an irrelevant distraction and an excuse to just run around the city dodging gun-wielding officials.
When you first find yourself standing upon a rooftop high above the busy city streets, where you get a first glimpse at the massive concrete jungle of mirrored-glass-encrusted skyscrapers and brilliant white rooftops far away in the distance, it’s an impressive sight. The city looks encouragingly huge, an adventure playground for free-runners, so you’d think. However, despite a few branching paths, Mirror’s Edge is a disappointingly linear game where pathways to your goal are indicated via “Runner Vision,” red objects that highlight where you can safely jump to reach a balcony or rooftop, where you can climb up a set of ladders, grab onto a drain-pipe or scurry through a ventilation shaft.
The inside locations in particular are very restricted with set paths to follow restricting you to grabbing only onto certain ledges or smashing through particular doors. The outside locations, however, do offer a certain degree of freedom and at least allow you to make the most of the set of acrobatic moves on offer. Once you string a few actions together, which requires inch perfect timing, the feeling of speed and movement as you dive under ducts, spring into the air from ledge to ledge or zip-line from one roof-top to the next, makes for an exciting experience.
Part of the excitement is because the developer has created a sense of urgency throughout the game. You constantly have to keep on the move wherever you go at all times otherwise you get caught in a storm of bullets from government officials who burst onto rooftops and surround you at any given opportunity. Initially, this keeps the game moving and flowing and encourages you to take risks that see you taking on big jumps, which occasionally won’t pay off. However, it also works to the detriment of the gameplay and at times you’re pushed a bit too hard; you're just not given enough time to think. If you stop for a moment to look around in order to work out where you need to go you’ll more often than not get shot. Especially later on in the game, when pathway hints become fewer, this means that ... (continued on next page) ----
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