Review by superbobhead
"What do you see in the mirror?"
Mirror's Edge in some ways might be this years Assassins Creed. No, I don't mean a confusing storyline, epic Crusade era biblical cities, or any of that stuff. It's one of those games that's probably going to have people divided into two or three very distinct views. On one hand, you're going to have people that are going to give nothing but praise, citing it as an incredibly creative and refreshingly new concept, which it is. On the other, you're going to have people that are going to hate the game for how difficult it is and the fact that there's no online multiplayer. Me? I fall in between the two, but for completely different reasons.
Story - 6/10
No one ever said Mirror's Edge was going to be the Final Fantasy 7 of FPS storylines. What the story does successfully answer is why you have to run and give you an objective to accomplish. Mirrors Edge is definitely about the speed, so if you're looking for a high quality storyline, you're better off in one of the other fall releases. Faith, the main character, is a runner who works for an organization to gather and deliver intel as covertly as possible, and nothing is more stealthy than running swiftly from rooftop to rooftop. While they did go through the trouble to have cutscenes and trying to establish a backstory for you and your sister, it's almost forgettable. There are only a few real characters that are even related to the story, which does help to keep you more closely knit to them, but since the game itself is pretty short (8-10 hours max), they never really let you get to know why these people are so important. Other than being your only connections, when plot twists happen or you get deeper in the plot, you almost feel as though you'd rather be spending that time playing the game than listening to it. Also, all of the story is played out through dialogue in the cutscenes rather than gameplay, which isn't really surprising since when you're running from the law, you don't really have time to think about anything else!
Gameplay - 8/10
Running through the world feels amazing, and once you get the controls down, it becomes an incredibly fluid experience. Thanks to using a first person camera, you get a sense of just how far away ledges are and exactly how amazing it is when you make that 50 foot jump away from incoming fire and barely make it onto that next rooftop. Mirror's edge also does a great job of establishing locomotion, which means that as you run, you slowly gain speed, and anything that gets in your way slows you down a bit. There are also a few melee moves, which isn't impressive for a fighting game, but Mirrors Edge is a First Person game, which notably never really have any melee attacks.. You'll never find yourself fighting with the controls, which allows your mind to focus on how to get where you need to go as quickly as possible without dying. So, why is this only an 8/10? I am completely in love with how awesome it feels to do the melee attacks. If you want to do a sliding kick, you run forward, crouch, and then kick as you slide. Same goes for jump kicks, wall kicks, etc. If you can think of how to do it, it can be done! The problem is that, as cool as all of them look and feel to do, there are portions of the game that force you to fight hand to hand, and the collision is off just enough to cause you to wonder why you're missing. With the disarming, while it's easy to master disarming pistols, it becomes a chore when you're trying to make it through an area and you feel that you need to disarm the guy in front of you with a shotgun or rifle, but the timing for it feels a bit off, so you typically end up dying as a result. If the game had allowed more diversity in the situations, such as a hidden path to continue running or something, this would have gone higher, but by the time you get towards the end, you find that there really is no other option other than to go straight through your opponents. There's also a few sections that are a lot easier to pass through with firearms (you'll see what I mean), but they don't really feel like they have any sort of power when you're firing them and the controls feel a bit off. To summarize my complaint here, Mirror's Edge is a great parkour and speed running game, but it ultimately gets to a point where they want to start showing how cool their combat looks, but technical issues get in the way preventing you from ever actually enjoying it. Also, the time trials aren't as deep as they seem. Usually, there are one or two things you could do different once you've found a good path, and then you've essentially optimized your time on the tracks. At least there's probably about 30 of them though!
Graphics - 9/10
I completely adore the look of the world in this game! It captures this incredibly sterile feel, which helps to promote the feeling that the world is perhaps too controlled. The levels each have their own color scheme, which typically consists of White/Grey and one other color, which honestly reminds me of some bizarre iPod advertisement. So far, Mirror's Edge is perhaps the most artistic looking title I've played all year! Some people have raised complaints about Faith having "man-hands" but it's understandable considering she made a career out of jumping across rooftops, off of cranes, disarming police officers, etc. The cutscenes all have this really...bizarre art style. It's almost like a better version of a really high quality flash movie, so it's a bit awkward to look at sometimes when things aren't shaded just right. Still, points go to them for trying to do something aside from CG cutscenes!
Sound - 7/10
There's not really much here. There are a lot of really neat sounds, such as the wind rushing by you as you get into a sprint, or the sound of your and enemy footsteps in the environment, along with a few songs that fit the sterile world, but there's just not much aside from that. Occasionally, you do hear someone on your radio or a guard yell something, but it's just...really quiet. Not that I think the game needed EA trax or anything, but it would have been nice if there was a bit more variety to it. On the plus side of things, all of the sound effects aside from the weapons sound spot on. When you go into a wall-run, it's nice to hear her footsteps quicken and her breathing get faster as she runs, which is something many games completely overlook.
Overall - 8/10
Mirror's Edge isn't bad at all. It's not for everyone for sure, but it could have been a lot worse. It also could have been a bit better. It's easy to overlook the bad aspects of the game since it is a completely unique experience that I'm glad finally saw the light of day. The entire game takes about 8-10 hours max on your first playthrough, but looking at the speedrun times that are up, if you really managed to find every shortcut, you could probably fly through it in less than six. If you aren't a fan of trying to perfect difficult jumps, speed runs, etc, or are expecting a first person shooter, you will be sorely disappointed. If this truly does become a franchise, it will be amazing to see how this series plays out and if they made a small number of improvements, this could become a force to be reckoned with. As it stands, this probably isn't the best purchase you could make and is probably just worth a rental for most players. For others, try to hold off for a price drop or a good deal on it.I do feel like everyone should play this at one point and think of how awesome it would be if the parkour concept showed up in other games and was executed as well as it is in Mirrors Edge!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/18/08
Game Release: Mirror's Edge (US, 11/11/08)
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