My hands are sweating, heart beating intensely and temper on the brink of destruction. These symptoms come from a disorder directly related with playing Mirror’s Edge. I had always imagined that N+ would be the most frustrating game I have had the pleasure of wanting to cry over, but Mirror’s Edge has taken the bar slightly higher thanks to frustrating friends that choose to challenge me.
Whilst most of you are thinking I am on the edge of dumping a ton of hate onto the game, you would be wrong. This is the sort of gameplay and finesse that I dream of in gaming. A single stage requiring you to get from point A to point B as quick as possible, a simple concept (one could even say it is my annoying love N+ in 3D). The joy comes in having to determine the route to take whilst running at high speed, needing split second reactions whilst never losing speed throughout the mental assault course. One slip, one fall, and it could very well result in your life; or even worse your speed run time.
It’s best not to beat around the bush. Mirror’s Edge is shallow, lacking in features and extremely short. In all honesty a word that I have thrown around a lot when describing the game has been ‘prototype’, due to the game feeling more like an proof of concept than a fully fledged retail title. I cannot help but get the feeling that the team over at DICE are a bit too itchy trigger fingered to jump back onto the Battlefield wagon. I for one hope they don’t.
It would be mean to criticize them for neglecting the game in all departments, as the unique graphical style and fantastic audio throughout are both stunning. This unique style has been a large factor in Mirror’s Edge earning so much attention, and rightly so as in-game and in motion the game looks amazing, with the emphasis on red fitting the gameplay down to a tee. The ever popular theme music found strewn across every trailer also makes an appearance... around nearly every corner.
The single player portion of Mirror’s Edge has you following the story of Faith, the lead character who is a ‘runner’. Her goal is to stay out of sight and deliver important messages, in a city of extremely high government control. Obviously before long the story adapts further than being a simple errand girl. Unfortunately for all the advancements in the story and the twists that follow, none of which succeed in pulling you into the story or connecting with the characters. Whilst I sat and paid attention for the purpose of this review, I would have much rather skipped the storyline segments; especially the sections which used anime styled cut-scenes as opposed to the use of in-game cut-scenes (which are much better when adopted).
Let’s be fair though, whilst it is a shame that the storyline is not up to standards, you are not showing interest in Mirror’s Edge for the compelling storyline. The majority of gamers will be looking for sleek gameplay with solid controls. Well the game oozes both. Gameplay could not be more spot on, every jump, every challenge – they all fall into place as you propel through the environments at speed. Somehow the levels have been designed in such a way that you will rarely stop to consider your next advancement in a stage, you just... run! Anyone worried about the difficulty of picking up the complex style of gameplay should be put at ease as literally anyone could get to grips with the mechanics within no time at all. The controls are extremely simplistic, requiring only the four shoulder buttons/triggers to jump, duck, slide, punch, kick and spin. When you have gotten to grips with the basics (which will be pretty fast, trust me!) you can then advance on to the face buttons for direction, disarming and grabs.
As I have mentioned above the game lacks depth, and this is judged from all angles. After you have completed the storyline (as enjoyable as it is) in only a few hours, you are left with little in terms of additional features found and generally expected from a retail game of this calibre. Instantly, alarms were sounding in my head with questions as to why replays or a level editor had not been included in the game; both of which are extremely fitting and a core component of games of this style. Either would expand the games depth massively. Even a basic free-roam environment to enjoy would have been a welcome addition over the nothingness on offer.
Obviously multiplayer has been included, kind of. Whilst you cannot actually play with friends (for shame) you can play against their ghosts in either speed run tracks or time trails of previous environments. Whilst both of these seem very little in the grand scheme of things, you would be surprised just how imperative these are for the game. The single player portion is best described as the training grounds for the online exposure. The reason for my symptoms at the start of the review directly relate to my competitive nature striving to achieve a more perfected run than my friends list, and the general leaderboards. You will be surprised every time you spend 30minutes on a single stage perfecting your run, only to see a friend smash your time by half using a unique and original method of traversing the environment. Without a doubt the beauty of Mirror’s Edge comes to life at these times.
Mirror’s Edge could have been more, but the same could be said for many titles which provide timeless enjoyable memories. As much as Portal was short and ever so sweet, Mirror’s Edge is equally fulfilling on its own level. DICE have already announced plans to turn the title into a trilogy for the story; we can only hope that they concentrate less on the story and more on the features that the game deserves. If you are tempted by the style of gameplay and fancy yourself as a perfectionist when it comes to avid competition, be sure to make the jump as Mirror’s Edge is one of the more promising titles this autumn.