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Mirror's Edge

Mirror's Edge

If someone described a game genre as being "first person action", the immediate thing that would spring to mind are hundreds of enemies, endless corridors and more weapons than a discount armament convention. In an unusual change, Mirror's Edge is something very different and is a breath of fresh air.

Mirror's Edge Screenshot 1 

The title is developed by DICE, a developer mainly known for the Battlefield series and is set in a totalitarian city sometime in the not too distant future. The game centres on a "runner", Faith, who delivers packages and information outside of the government's heavily monitored communication channels. The easiest way to do this is over the pristine skyline using building's roofs as a method of staying above the streets, patrolled constantly by the police.

The first thing that strikes you is the unique visual design which is so dazzling and bright that you wonder how safe it is for your eyes. The city is presented in a glittering sheen of sunlight and cleanliness with brilliant colours everywhere. This design choice is startling but effective, and helps to communicate ideas subtly, not least that this isn't a standard game.

Mirror's Edge Screenshot 2

After an intelligent and measured tutorial you are introduced to the game's story revolving around Faith's quest to help her sister, fight the regime and uncover more about shadowy events which could have potentially serious consequences. The game's chapters all revolve around traversing different locations, using a series of parkour style moves. Alongside standard jumps and grabs, you can clamber up walls, slide under objects, wall run, roll and use the environment to your advantage using zip-lines and drain pipes.

The game places an emphasis on fluidity and grace, allowing you to connect moves together to help you maintain your momentum. By keeping up a good level of speed jumps become easier and you develop a natural running "line", moving from object to object until you reach your destination.

Mirror's Edge Screenshot 3

Whilst this seems daunting at first, the game uses its vibrant colour palette to help you, highlighting key objects and directions in red, for example doors to get to and ledges to jump to. This is clever design and it never feels like the game is patronising you, merely offering you suggestions on how to proceed. There is usually more than one route through an area, though there is very little difference to them with one usually being marginally quicker or easier.

In essence, this is exactly what Mirror's Edge is about; pure unadulterated platforming in first person. It is here that the game works best, with minimal information on screen, other than a crosshair (which can be disabled). You become drawn in and soon feel the pressure as you make seemingly impossible progress over buildings hundreds of storeys above the ground.

Mirror's Edge Screenshot 4

Some of the best sequences involve desperate escapes and chases from the city's police where it seems impossible that you'll make it out alive, yet somehow manage to find a route. Clever level design means that the enemy are always close and every small victory as you get further ahead gives you a sense of satisfaction at your skills. There are some great set pieces involving some audacious escapes which you'll want to show to anyone nearby.

However, despite its core simplicity being the key appeal, Mirror's Edge does have some frustrating issues which really undo some of the good work. Inevitably, this being an action game, there is potentially combat, though everything possible to dissuade you from it is done. Fighting enemies is challenging with a limited selection of punches and kicks, often having to be used against firearms. Instead, you have the ability to disarm enemies by waiting for their weapon to glow red before pressing a button in response. This can be tricky at the best of times when fighting one enemy, yet later in the game you often have to get past several at once.

Mirror's Edge Screenshot 5

In fairness, the game gives you the usual "bullet time" that you can use to assist you in these situations and it is often best to simply avoid confrontation altogether, though there are times when you simply don't know what you have to do. There were a number of instances where the route isn't immediately obvious and at these times you are often being shot at by several gun toting police officers meaning you usually crumple and die several times until you finally realise what you were doing wrong.

Other issues are some tedious checkpoints, where the game puts you back a section despite the complicated jump being several minutes away, meaning you have to replay sections over and over until you get it right. It can also be frustrating during chases, where you are being pursued endlessly and are constantly trying to find the way, which can at times be slightly obscure.

Mirror's Edge Screenshot 6

The game does degenerate in the final act, forcing you to engage in combat far more, despite you having been told to avoid it leading to some difficult sections on the hard difficulty settings which require multiple attempts to progress. As a whole, the end of the game feels anti-climactic after such a strong build up and is short at only 9 levels and a tutorial.

There is limited replayability too, with a reasonable selection of time trials and time attack modes to help add some extra challenges but they shouldn't take too long to do after completing the main story. There are several hidden bags in each level, though if you keep a careful eye out for them they aren't difficult to locate.

Mirror's Edge Screenshot 7

Despite trying hard to break away from standard first person titles, and in part succeeding, it is very disappointing that the story is so flat and clichéd. From the second or third level it is clear what is going on and several of the "surprising" revelations are painfully obvious. The characters are genre staples and whilst the cut-scenes are nicely drawn, they are by no means essential.

Mirror's Edge is a title which is all about the gameplay, choosing to reinterpret the standard first person conventions by making them feel different and actually placing you in the game rather than hiding you behind a glowing HUD and enormous weapon.

In the end it feels like the game itself has made a jump yet only by desperately grabbing onto the ledge and hauling itself up. It is a game hoping to be different, yet at the same time held back by brevity and a series of issues which prevent it from being a must play title.

7.00/10 7

Mirror's Edge (Reviewed on Xbox 360)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

If someone described a game genre as being "first person action", the immediate thing that would spring to mind are hundreds of enemies, endless corridors and more weapons than a discount armament convention. In an unusual change, Mirror's Edge is something very different and is a breath of fresh air.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Christopher Wakefield

Christopher Wakefield


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