Sunday, 27 February 2011

Mirror's Edge Review

I know a lot of you may be thinking "Hey isn't this game super old?" but if like me you are a student and they're are lots of drains on your usually slim wallet then you may appreciate a perspective on a game that is a little more affordable and one that a lot of people missed the first time around. I picked up a copy of Mirror's Edge for a shocking £2.99 (roughly $5 for you yanks). So without further ado here goes my review for Mirror's Edge.

Mirror's Edge is a fairly original concept (something unusual for an AAA title), it is a first-person platformer, meaning that rather than seeing a behind-view of your character ala Prince of Persia you see from their eyes, supposedly giving you the upmost immersion. Does this work you ask? Well yes and no.

STORY - The story of Mirror's Edge starts out cool but soon becomes a pretty incomprehensible mess. The basics of it are that a dictator-like government has taken over your city, taking away the citizens freedoms. How is never really specified you just have to go along with it. You are Faith a "Runner" who must deliver messages that the totalitarian government forbids. She soon becomes wrapped up in a conspiracy that will leave you scratching your head for the most part and is, spoiler warning, not given a very good resolution at the end of the game.

GAMEPLAY - The gameplay of Mirror's Edge is a mixed bag. The game has a steep learning curve, but once you get the controls down you will be pulling off wallruns and backflips left-right and center. The real joy of Mirror's Edge comes when you can freely leap across the white-washed rooftops stringing together jumps, slides, rolls and wallclimbs. Some have complained that Faith's repertoire of moves is fairly basic however I find this to be a plus as it makes the game easier to get into, games like this can often feel overwhelming when there are too many techniques at your disposal. Some parts of the game will have your heart pumping with adrenaline as you dodge gun fire leaping between billboards and building walls and you can almost feel the wind in your hair as you nail that long jump from the top of a crane down onto a conveniently placed pile of cardboard boxes below. The emphasis is on forward momentum in Mirror's Edge and as such there is very little combat involved. You have basic punch and kick moves but your most useful move in your arsenal will be the disarm move allowing you to gracefully strip your enemy of his weapon, knocking him out in the process. Once in possession of an enemies' weapon you may use it but the gunplay is inaccurate and most guns only contain a very small amount of ammo. For the most part your best best is to ignore most enemies and keep running however combat becomes inevitable at later stages of the game. It's in this latter half of the game that it really begins to lose it's edge (pun intended). Rather than the sprawling, yet deceptively linear environments of rooftops and streets most of the later parts of the game are spent traversing hallways and tight enclosed areas which takes away the fist-pumping freedom of the open areas and creates the frustration of "what do I do now?" moments. Many times during these levels I found myself going to youtube to find out where the hell I was supposed to go, developers DICE clearly tried to combat this with the "runner vision" (press a button to show the direction you are supposed to go) however I still ran into this most immersion breaking of problems time and time again. As far as extra modes are concerned ME has a few, aside from the fairly short single player campaign there are also time trial and ghost modes but it would have been nice if they had incorporated online one-on-one races rather than just leaderboards.

GRAPHICS/AUDIO - The graphics are excellent in this game, the city is given a white-washed colour pallet with only the brightest of primary colours thrown in to indicate the correct path to follow. The sun-drenched metropolis looks incredible when moving at a steady pace and the washed out colours do a fantastic job of giving the feeling of an oppressive government attempting to create a perfect society that has somehow become warped in the process. When you get to the indoor environments the game looks much less impressive and the dark colours only serve to make the game look drab and boring. However this could be seen as intentional on the part of the developer to contrast the euphoric freedom of being outdoors with the depressingly dark and dingy houses most citizens are forced to spend most of their time in. I absolutely adored the music in this game, the atmospheric, calm and relaxing music perfectly fit the themes of the game and adds to the feeling of soaring high on the rooftops. The more fast-paced techno-like songs that pump in the more intense parts of the game is also excellent, it will really get the heart racing as you dodge those bullets. The ending theme "Still Alive" (not to be confused with the "Portal" theme) sung by Lisa Miskovsky is very catchy and will surely be stuck in your head (or on your iPod) for weeks after completing the game.

CONCLUSION - While Mirror's Edge has it's fair share of flaws, an almost non-existent story and a severely badly-paced second half the worst offendors but Mirror's Edge is a compellingly original title and a refreshing change of pace from the same old First Person Shooters we get too often. For such a cheap price I would recommend Mirror's Edge to anyone interested in a fresh new platformer. Hopefully a more refined sequel will come along sometime soon but for now I'd give Mirror's Edge a solid FULL PRICE!! Mirror's Edge is available for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.

Score: 8/10

- Jack Ridsdale

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