Impressions: Mirror’s Edge

Mirror's Edge cover art

Mirror's Edge cover art

I really wanted to love this games. It caught my eye with its dystopian world. It lured me closer with its strong female protagonist and it tempted me to play with its interesting game mechanic. After some closeup time with the game though, I’m sorry to say that I’m breaking up with it. I just can’t take the abuse.

I’ve been describing the game as: “It’s fun until it isn’t.” Which is to say that the parkour aspects are actually really fun. Climbing and jumping across an urban landscape in first person view can be quite rewarding as you string together long rows of techniques. The problem comes when you fail to make that jump or catch that ledge. Then you fail to make it again. And again. And again. I had some of the most swear-till-my-throat-is-sore moments with this game. The same fluidity that comes from wall-running, climbing pipes or timing jumps brings with it a need for near perfection that rewards the best and leaves the rest to holler at the screen.

If you have heard anything about this game from a podcast or a blog, the comments made were probably about the combat. It stinks. It’s true. It does. In a game that rewards running away from conflict, in several places it forces you incapacitate a room full of guards. Often times using a gun to take out a sniper or other enemy firing at you is the quickest course of action. Fighting hand-to-hand will always gives the player the advantage though if they are willing to play a ‘quicktime event’ with each armed enemy that approaches them. That process becomes tiresome over several hours of play. It is much more enjoyable to punch a solider in the face and then kick them in the balls. That always seems to knock them out.

There are two different types of video in this game: animation and in-engine scenes. The in-engine scenes are those that maintain the first person view and have people interacting with the gamer from inside the protagonist. You see her hands grab things or look down to see her feet running. The gamer still feels in control even if the camera is moving according to the game’s script. Unfortunately, after each chapter there are short videos that remove the gamer’s control completely and show the protagonist interacting with other characters in animated scenes that look noticeably lower quality from the other content in the game.

Let me sum this up for you. If you are interested in playing this game, try the demo. Honestly. If you make it through the demo but get mad at missing a jump or not getting a smooth run, you might not want to play the full game. Although overall I had fun with the game, I considered many, many times throwing the controller at the screen during the infuriating moments of missing a jump or not having perfect timing. Your mileage may vary.

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