To be honest when I first heard about Mirrors Edge I wasn’t excited. The game just never seemed to make much of a splash and I wasn’t about to bite the bait that it’s EA developer DICE had hooked so carefully prior to the console release of November 2008. The PC version was released recently on January 13th and rumored to be graphically superior to the console version so I decided it was just as good as any other title to make the comparison to.
The game follows the adventurous plot of your heroine Faith as she navigates monotonous level after level of only slightly varying terrain style labyrinths from the first-person perspective. Chase scenes reminiscent of the opening sequence between Daniel Craig and Sébastien Foucan of Casino Royale categorize the game as a true homage du parkour while instilling a general ambiance of Big Brother constantly watching and waiting to end the insignificant lives of any willing to be different. The game does a wonderful job of telling Faith’s story as she struggles to make sense of a deeply political plot to frame herself and all others standing in the way of the Corporate police state regime while providing a refreshing mechanic to enhance other FPS games for the future.
As you progress the police are constantly after you, always just one step behind and brandishing enough firepower to put down an invading pack of dinosaurs or Predator aliens. More often than not my heart was in my throat as I leapt from building to building trying to outrun or out maneuver my would-be killers as they unleashed excessively large caliber weapons upon me with reckless abandon. DICE has always been famous for the variety and feel of weapons throughout their Battlefield series and this is something that carry’s over very well to Mirror’s Edge. There are few things in the game more enjoyable to me than ripping one of these exceptionally crafted devices of death away from the trembling hand of a corporate cop and cutting his squad down while crushing his larynx underfoot.
Sadly each level depicts another drab and colorless landscape of puzzle-like obstacles and terrain through which you must navigate in order to advance. Others have mentioned to me that if you make it completely through the tutorial then you have discovered all of the potential moves and mechanics you must use in order to navigate any given scenario presented throughout the game and I cannot find fault in their observation. Some of the abilities you are granted need to be used in combination and some of them need to be used when you least expect it but for the most part the skill required to play the game just doesn’t really grow beyond what you are introduced to within the first hour or so of play.
It is a taboo for reviewers to begin their verbal assault on any artistic piece with such negative remarks so I am going to take a break from the abuse and suggest that there are some positive qualities to the game that fans of Valve’s Portal in particular will be fond of. The levels are extremely well thought out with several different available routes accessible to navigate and “solve” any one particular map but only one route is most efficient for those concerned only with beating time trials. I encourage you if you are that type of person, (i.e. the kid with all of Portal’s achievements for time trials) you are going to have a blast with this one if you pick it up.
The colors used are fairly monotonous and the city landscape feels often dry and unrealistic. I didn’t particularly care for the overuse of greys permeating every landscape but was gladdened by the use of lighting particularly within buildings and offices to add to an ambiance of style. The animation sequences are also done very well adding to the character development, style and overall sexiness of Faith as she dances the fine line between hero and villain. All in all the game isn’t bad but it isn’t great either. It fits a particular niche among gamers that is only just now beginning to form itself and I’m fairly certain that although I deeply appreciate the rich story line and clever use of physics to test my mental finesse I am not a part of the niche.