Mirror’s Edge was among the most hyped games this year, and with good reason. All the trailers emphasized the game’s stylish looks, great soundtrack, and one-of-a-kind gameplay. After that demo came out, I knew this was a game I had to play.
What EA has done here is try to make this year’s Portal. Only problem is, that game already came out, it’s Braid. If anything, this is this year’s Assassin’s Creed, and it suffers from a lot of the same problems. But while Assassin’s Creed did deliver on incredible exploration, Mirror’s Edge just gives you a taste of what could have been.
In an oppressive future, the government has taken control of everything. Sure, everything looks clean and peaceful from the outside, but what is the real story? I’m not quite sure, actually. Bad shit happened, I guess. Anyway, you play as Faith, a runner. What that means is you transport bags of… messages., I think, around the city by leaping from building to building. I have no idea how doing something that could so easily attract attention like that is better than sneaking around. Faith’s sister, a cop, gets accused of murdering some guy and it’s up to you to save her. The story just is not that engaging, but at least it delivers a competent enough ending, even if the plot twists were way to obvious.
The game is all about making you experience Faith’s job. You look down, you see her body. You run into a wall, she’ll put her hands against it. You start running really fast, you’ll hear her panting. The game even goes as far as to limit how far you can look based on how far Faith could actually turn her head. It actually works pretty well, and the game is actually pretty immersive, while you’re in control. Problem is, between the missions we get the cinematics that explain the story, and for whatever reason they are animated like Esurance commercials. It is totally ridiculous and makes the story that much harder to suffer through.
The bulk of the gameplay involves guiding Faith over obstacles. You’ll jump from building to building, climb scaffolding, all sorts of stuff. At first, this is really great and you get the sense that there are tons of potential paths and all that great stuff that they wanted you to experience. But as the game goes on, the puzzles get a lot more frustrating and there pretty clearly is only one way to get through them. They built in a button to show you where to go, but often that button won’t show you anything in the most difficult areas.
If that was all there was to the game, I probably would have reviewed it better. But then there’s the combat. You have one attack button, and you can stand, jump, or slide to help knock down enemies. Enemies take a bunch of hits, so it’s best to just disarm them, which is like a one-hit kill. You have to time it just right though, and the timing window is really quick. I found myself frequently pressing the button too early, which almost always resulted in my death. Faith can only take a couple hits before she dies, and there are plenty of scenarios where you’ll have to take down a bunch of enemies to make any progress. I absolutely hated that aspect of the game.
Like I said, Mirror’s Edge has a great sense of style. The sky is a bright blue, the buildings stark and clean, and colors really pop out. The soundtrack adds to this cold atmosphere, to great affect. It’s trademark parkour gameplay is really neat at first, but it loses its charm. The story and combat don’t help.
This is a rental game. If you really like it, you’ll probably enjoy the time trials mode, and that upcoming DLC looks pretty good too. But really, unless you’re a parkour enthusiast, there are better games to play this winter.