A risky move from DICE and EA, but did they pull it off?
Mirror’s Edge, EA and DICE’s latest production; attempts to create something completely unique and original to gaming. With other games such as Gears of War 2, and Call of Duty: World at war released during the same week, it didn’t recieve a large amount of attention, but for those who have avoided the shooters and picked up this game, the majority will agree that Mirror’s Edge is a game that cannot be missed!
To start off, our character ‘Faith’ (may have resemblence to leap of faith, who knows?) tells us about her story and the city she lives in; a city where security is closely monitored and crime is kept at its minimum, stating that those who disagreed with the rules were simply pushed aside. Faith and her fellow ‘runners’ deliver secret information for their clients around the city, amongst the rooftops and out of the cops’ line of sight. Faith’s sister is framed for the murder of a politician and it’s your job to rescue her from the hands of the ‘Big Brother’ like government. Some will see this as a simple cliche plot, however others will be happy to see a change in gaming stories for once. Whatever your opinion is, the story plays out fairly well, generally in cartoon cutscenes which although technically great, lack the interesting visuals that the gameplay conquers so well.
The unique and most amazing part of mirror’s edge is clearly the gameplay, which is by far its strongest point. Taking a more realistic approach, you don’t apply points to certain attributes, (for example; to upgrade your characters speed, or jump height) instead, over time your skills as a runner will increase – you’ll realise when you should tuck your legs, or the exact point in which you should jump to get the perfect speed as you land. The controls fit perfectly, assigning the left bumper to upwards movements and the left trigger to downwards movements. The right trigger will perform combat (including firing a weapon) and the left and right sticks… well, that’s pretty obvious.
perfecting your skills to the best of their ability is important if you’re loking to get high scores in the time trials and beating the speedruns for each level. unfortunately the story is very short, with only a prologue and 9 considerably abrupt chapters, the total campaign’s length only clocks in at about 6-8 hours (but this also depends completely on your skill and memory of the level)
But what’s great about Mirror’s Edge is that it feels rewarding – stringing together a jump, wallrun, jump, tuck, kick guy in face has never felt so great! which leads me onto the combat…
Mirror’s Edge is without a doubt a must buy for anyone looking for a change
The game’s combat is obviously focused on hand to hand, but the player is free to pick up an enemy’s gun to make clearing a room of SWAT that little bit easier. This is necessary when playing on the hardest difficulty, however the game clearly deters you from that route. When you carry a weapon, not only does your character become more slow but they also aren’t able to do the acrobatics that they could perform beforehand such as climbing pipes (or climbing any surfaces for that matter) and ammo is extremely limited (before you know it, faith will have had enough and thrown the gun to her side). The hand to hand combat however is phenomonal; every punch, every kick, (every headbutt!) feels so alive, and disarming an enemy never gets old – when an enemy is too close to shoot you, they will attempt to hit you using their weapon and at the right time, the gun will turn red, which means you need to press Y (and quickly) so you can watch faith swing over her opponent, headbutt them or even put her leg round their neck and slam them to the ground. If you’re struggling with combat at all, you can always press X at anytime to inciciate faith’s ‘reaction time’ for a period of time (don’t know how many times I said time!) which makes it easier to disarm or even jump at the very edge of a building.
unfortunately you’ll notice that the game has a few loading times from chapter 1 onwards. Each time you get in an elevator, the doors will close and you’ll be waiting a good minute or so to get to the next part of the level – this really breaks up the action and is incredibly dissapointing considering the game is about speed and momentum. However I did find that using the XBOX360’s new feature of uploading the game to the hard drive noticeably decreases the waiting time.
graphics wise, this game is most definitely one of the most bright, and vibrant games that consoles have witnessed, and don’t be suprised if you find yourself stopping to look at the amazing colour, draw distance and visuals that DICE have produced. I never experienced one drop in frame rate or poor texture, the graphics are generally top notch. Environments are suprisingly varied too. However like every game, the visuals have their down sides; the bright white buildings and glaring sun can sometimes be a little too much, luckily your eyes should be focused on the way you’re running 90% of the time.
What’s more the atmosphere is accompanied by an astounding soundtrack featuring the main title song ‘Still Alive’ (not the song from portal!) and other techno beats which really makes the fighting a lot more tense. Voice acting is also strong, and the puffing and panting that you’ll hear from faith as she run’s really adds to the ‘freerunning’ feel.
Although you can see from the first level, a huge amount of buildings in the distance, the game is strictly linear; if you attempt to explore down a back alley, or a different route, you won’t find anything particuarly interesting and will end up returning to where you were in no time. Although first glances at the game might make it seem like an open world, it’s far from it.
Mirror’s edge is unique; the controls are as smooth as possible, the visuals are bright and beautiful, and the plot and characters all hit a strong note. Obviously the game has it’s problems such as ridiculous loading times, and rooftop running can sometimes be a little too bright on the eyes but Mirror’s Edge exceeded my expectations, and the time trials and leaderboards are enough to keep players going for weeks on end.
Mirror’s Edge is without a doubt a must buy for anyone looking for a change; don’t miss out on this genuinely fantastic gaming experience.
The Bad: The cartoon cutscenes soon get old, making it great to see the real world again; A short campaign leaves us desperately wanting more.; Glaring sunlight and white building are a bit too light.