Review: Mirror's Edge

-Keith Michael

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see through the eyes of the Prince of Persia or just be really good at parkour? This game is a mixture of multiple things, some bad and some good; it has the new type of game play and nice graphics, but it mixes in a poor soundtrack and a bad story. Mirror’s Edge will have you running, jumping, and tumbling your way through a futuristic world all in first-person. There are a lot of first-person games these days but most of them revolve around the gun and that’s where this one is different. In fact, the story pretty much revolves around the use of Faith’s almost inhuman parkour abilities. 

In Mirror’s Edge you assume the role of a runner named Faith. Faith lives in a futuristic world where society is under the watch of big brother and free speech is simply not allowed. The people in this society have to rely on the runners to communicate with anyone that has the courage to stand up for what is right; it goes without saying that technology is monitored and the normal mail systems can not be trusted. Faith finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy involving her sister (a police officer) and a dead senator. Faith puts it on herself to run across the city to find the people responsible and bring them to justice. This sounds interesting enough, but really it’s just enough to hold the game together. What Mirror’s Edge lacks in the story department, it makes up for in the game play.

With all the running, jumping, and wall traversing you would think that Faith learned from the Prince of Persia himself, Mirror’s Edge requires you to take all the steps yourself, in first-person, from running and jumping to pulling your legs up to just clear some barbed wire fencing. You will have complete control of Faith, having to push one button to wall run, another to turn Faith and then another to jump again. It sounds easy enough, but when you have a bunch of bullets flying past your head and are weaker than Dante in Heaven and Hell mode it gets a little tricky to remember the three part wall jump. After getting through the long tutorial and the learning curve it’s time to do some major parkour. Faith really knows how to jump and she takes advantage of it more than Mario and Morphious as she makes some jumps that seem like they are out of the Matrix. I had a great time with the first seven chapters; they all had some great platforming elements like jumping from pole to pole or sliding down a sky scraper and jumping to the one standing next to it. It was especially fun to look down at the road, seeing the cars pass by as you jumped from one building’s roof to the next. The last couple of levels turned into a total drag though, with constant dying and all the fighting for your life. Seriously, this game turned from a nice easy-flowing platformer to a game where just trying not to get shot is the biggest thing. On top of that the ending was one of the dullest endings to a game I have ever played, making me not want to play through the game ever again. The ending and the change of pace weren’t the only thing that made a possibly great game only good. This is another game where the developers pretend that you can’t tie your own shoes, you will always have someone in your ear telling you where to go and it seems like the on-screen prompts are always there. To top it off, all the items in the world that can be interacted with are always highlighted in red; as if I wouldn’t think about climbing the ladder that is right in front of me. Don’t get me wrong, this game was pretty fun, but it slows down toward the end losing its’ “Edge.”

The music in Mirror’s Edge is not something you will be humming in the shower any time soon. The music sounds like it is some thing ripped from a bad bank heist movie. The elevator music isn’t even as good as elevator music and I think that’s saying something. Well, maybe it has good sound affects, right? Wrong! Everything in the game sounds kind of forced, with generic police voices, sirens and unrealistic weapon fire. The most realistic sounds in the game come from Faith herself, from the obvious grunting and huffing that she makes when running and falling, to the painful sound of her hitting the hard concrete. The voice overs in the game are done really well, they seemed to be the only pleasing thing to hear. I never had to struggle to hear what was said and nothing seemed too forced, this is a good thing considering how some games are done these days.

The graphics on the other hand are pretty nice, even if they are from 2008. The world itself reminds me of what the world of Portal would look like outside of the Aperture Science labs. If you don’t know what that is then imagine a plain white city, where the only color you see is blue with the occasional red thrown in, and most of the time the red disappears. In fact, you can jump on a pole that is red, climb to the top and look back down at it to realize that the pole was only red to guide you through the world. This dullness does add to the whole overtone of the game and works really well with the theme of big brother watching. The cutscenes are done like the Progressive Auto Insurance commercials in animation style and are probably my favorite things in the game. The animation is pretty fun to watch and the voice-overs fit in well. It’s a shame that the story wasn’t more interesting. The environment and cutscenes are nicely done, but for every step forward there is a step back however, making the character models the thing to take the hit. Most of the characters don’t really fit into the surrounding world and they reminded me of toys. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem considering you won’t spend much time next to enemies and allies, but it is worth mentioning.

Mirror’s Edge is one of those games that starts off with a lot of steam and then you realize that all it had from the beginning was the big puffy cloud of steam. In other words, this game started off pretty strong and ended up kind of poorly. Now, I did have a good time playing this game with all of the wall running and thoughts of Prince of Persia and I definitely think it’s worth the $15 shelf price, but with all the hype it got from E3 in ’08 I expected a little more. With fun unique game play and good graphics mixed with some bad music and a rough ending, I’m going to give Mirror’s Edge what it deserves. 

Verdict: 80%

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eX9gNvPIbQ&feature=related - Awesome Mirror’s Edge Moments Video