A Brit Late: Mirror’s Edge
(This is a review based on the writer’s opinion. You don’t have to agree with it, but at least appreciate their view)
Mirror’s Edge should really have been called Marmite’s Edge. Just like Assassin’s Creed the year before it, when Mirror’s Edge was first announced the hype for it was unbelievable. It had everything going for it. It looked fresh and original. Then the game actually came out and some were disappointed and some were happy with the game. Opinions on the game split down the middle, just like they had for Assassin’s Creed when that was released a year before. Overall though, the game tended to get more negative than positive press so I avoided buying it when it came out. However last month I was looking to get rid of the horrible Sonic Unleashed before it became worthless (as most recent Sonic games have). It just so happened that Mirror’s Edge had become pretty cheap since it’s November release so I picked it up along with Assassin’s Creed (which you will know if you watch my video blogs). I knew not to go in expecting much, but I was still surprised and disappointed. Read on to see what I thought about the opinion splitter that is Mirror’s Edge.
Story, what story?
The story, that’s what the first problem is with this game. Or to put it another way, what little story there is. As you already know you play as Faith, a free runner who delivers packages for resistance across a city that has fallen under a totalitarian regime in exchange for safety on the streets. However everything changes one fateful day when Faith is delivering a package. Now this doesn’t sound all too bad but the problem is that you’ll find it hard to actually care about the story. It’s forced upon you and doesn’t progress that much at all until the last few levels when everything is suddenly thrown on you. By that time you have given up trying to care and you just want to get the game over with. It also doesn’t help that the game’s ending is so anti climatic. I won’t spoil anything, but you’ll be left wondering “Is that it?” by the time you have finished. Despite the hindrances of the story, at least the cut scenes are skippable, unlike Assassin’s Creed. Finally, most of the main plot points are carried out through lazy animated cut scenes that could have easily have been made in Flash. I mean, how hard would have been to have just told all of the story through the game’s engine? It’s like even DICE themselves didn’t have faith (no pun intended) in the story, so the just made quick cutscenes to save them the effort of doing it in game.
The second problem and probably the biggest, is the game’s difficulty, or more the cheapness of the enemies and some of the level design. Now the problem with the enemies stems from the fact that Faith is a very weak character. A couple of bullet holes and she’ll be nearly dead. 2 hits in the face by an enemy and she’s dead. Now it’s not the theory of this that bothers me. After all, it’s more realistic and adds an extra degree of challenge to the game. No, the problem is more of how the enemies are placed. There will be many sections in the game where you’ll get half a dozen enemies or so all with assault rifles, firing a ton of bullets at you while you have about a second or two to find your way of escape. For example, in one of the later levels there is an area where you need to get in this office of a building to escape your pursuers. Now this section starts with you opening a garage door that reveals about 4 of 5 Assault Rifle wielding enemies. Once you have completed the section, you realise that the route is pretty easy, but only when you know exactly what to do. I must have spent about half an hour just dying because the route of escape isn’t made obvious to you, as when you are running to it, you can’t see the door you need to run through. So this section led to nothing but frustration and anger. Unfortunately there are other sections within the game equally as frustrating. The odds can be evened slightly if you disarm and enemy and fight back, but then that breaks the flow that the game is trying to create and feels artificial.
Take a moment to see the sights
On the other hand, I couldn’t have enough praise for the actual controls and engine themselves. The controls are very easy to get to grip with and the intro and prologue level give you plenty of time to get used to them. Despite my earlier statement, most of the level design is nice too, with many varying levels testing your free running abilities. Some parts of the levels can be confusing at first, but overall, I enjoyed the level designs. There are also various different paths to take, some of which can save you time. That being said the game is criminally short. You’ll definitely finish it in a few hours. This might have not have been a bad thing, but I didn’t feel inspired to play through the game again after completing it. Like I said, there are the different paths and there are also runner bags to find, but none of that is any good if I don’t want to play through it again anytime soon.
It’s also refreshing to see a game that is so vivid in it’s colour choices. In a world of gaming where these days most current generation games use a coffee filter on their games to quote Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation, it was a pleasure to see all the different colours used. The game itself is also very pretty. It’s nice to just stop for a moment in the game and look at the city that you are free running around. It’s a red herring though considering the rest of the game’s faults. Finally as well as the main story there is the speed run mode, which adds a time limit to story mode (which only makes it more frustrating), and time trial mode. This is by far the best mode in the game because there is nothing but you, the levels and the time limit. DICE also had the decency to make brand new levels for this mode, so it feels fresh when going into it. There are more time trials, but those are DLC which costs 800 MS points/whatever that is in PSN money, so whether those levels are worth the extra money is up to you.
In conclusion, Mirror’s Edge definitely did have a lot going for it. On the one side you have the frustration, the lack of story and the lack of longevity. One the other side however you have a game that can be fun and exciting once you actually know what you’re doing. As frustrating as the enemies can be, when you know what you’re doing and are being chased, it gives you a big rush and makes you feel more immersed within the game. However, the game has too many faults that can not be ignored. So ultimately I can only recommend you pick up Mirror’s Edge if it’s cheap (it’s currently £13 at ASDA right now) or if you rent it from Lovefilm or Gamefly etc. To end on a positive note though, I would still like to see a sequel because I think if DICE can fix the problems from the first game then they could create a fun and fresh experience.
(well done Halfleft, you have made me a broken man. I hope your happy)