Mirror's Edge - We're Livin' on the Edge
Mirror's Edge - A First-Person Platformer/Action Game by DICE and EA.

Mirror's Edge is an action-adventure-platformer-shooter-Parkour game for the PS3 and X-Box 360 created by DICE and published by the scourge of the seven continents EA. The biggest draw of this game is that it's unique, artistic, highly stylish, and a brand new and highly innovative game. Something not a lot of games can claim as of late. The only problem with complete innovation is that you don't have the warm, fuzzy blanket of "Tried" and "True" in case you botch the delivery. That is the problem that picks up Mirror's Edge, and runs with it all the way through the game.

Graphically, what there is to say about Mirror's Edge could fill up several novels, a few reviews, an editorial, a magazine or two, with enough excess words to travel the length of this review and back a few times just to scoff at anything that isn't so worthy of mention. The art direction in Mirror's Edge, in my opinion, is the way graphics should look in today's bright, glowing bloom-and-lense-flair world.

It's very easy to be washed up in this game, graphically.

The game positively "glows" with the je ne sais quoi that always seems missing with the current generation graphics. The style of the buildings and decor adjusts with the person and the placement, and colors are almost always contrast intensive, and often times very abrasive to the casual observer. It's the sort of art direction that commands attention, and it carries itself very well. Visually, the gameplay remains bright without the eerie bloom that games have all seemed to pick up sometime, when they're not being so gritty and murky you could hide them in a swamp, and instantly lose sight of them when you let them out of your hand.

Mostly, I'd like to spend this paragraph gibbering about all of the little things that I liked. The fact that the machine guns had tracer rounds, but still rounds that could not be seen, how reflections and water carried themselves beautifully, how the wind shook your vision if you gained enough momentum, how your vision focused or lost focus depending on the depth of what your "vision dot" was resting on. Artistically, this game went the distance. I could go on, but I think I'd be talking too much about it.

The between story direction, on the opposite coin face, is a highly artful cel-cartoon style highly reminiscient of e-surance commercials. Artfully speaking, this is a stylish way to transition the story between levels, but is somewhat depressing when you look at the sheer quality difference between the visuals between the chapters, and the visuals during the chapters. They probably would've been more pleasing had they stuck to the same stark contrast that the rest of the game maintains. The blinding red of the "Runner Vision" beautifully illustrates how artfully contrast intensive the game can be, and the between-cutscenes don't maintain that. Overall, though, they're still artful and descriptive, and explain the in-between events wonderfully.

The story, on the other hand, is a pretty familiar setup. Not quite the gritty urban dystopia that's all-too familiar in gaming, but still a dystopian society where you control the "dredges" of society out to stick it to the blatantly evil Man. The personal involvement with the main character and her compatriots is fairly interesting without being too stereotypical, and the twists in the story are fairly interesting without being too far-fetched.

Still, the game didn't do a lot to really change the dystopian plot, especially with the main character's reasoning for getting involved with the anti-government group. Whatever part of it there is, at least.

The problem is that the art direction is a little too clean, and the jarring twists in the story are visible on the surface if you look hard enough. No one every really skirts the line, everything is pretty clear cut. No grays, just white or black. Although, in retrospect, it does fit the decor quite well. Regardless, it was written well, but not very well.

Have you ever fired a gun whilst jumping through the air?

The gameplay is a wonderful mixture of running, jumping, climbing, getting shot at, and exploring. Although, given just how many sandbox territories we've been given to play with as of late, I'm rather dejected this game had such a linear pathway style across the roof-tops. That little nit-pick aside, the game handles itself well, with exceptions. Sometimes, the mechanics are genuinely difficult on you, expecting perfection, and others too loose, allowing you to mostly "wing it." The difficulty is welcome, but sometimes relentlessly aggravating. Considering I've yet to try the game on Hard, I'm sure my aggravation could be exponentially more.

The difficulty quirks aside, the game does a good job of forcing you to play your hand close. You can't run into any gunfight without expecting to pull a slug from your leg shortly after, nor can you expect the game to hand you many disarm opportunities. On top of that, the game encourages you to move, focusing less on gunplay and more on run-and-run action. There are even several trophies for not shooting anyone, and others for not throwing a punch, or being shot.

The action sequences aside, there are moments where Faith just refuses to work correctly. Sometimes, her jumps will be inconsistent in height from one ledge jump to the next, and others that will be astronomically longer. This leads to a lot of drops to the death, which is further compounded by the very selective nature of whether or not a jump leads to catching the ledge, or grabbing the jutting pipe. Overall, though, it's never bad enough to put down entirely, just a crimson slash on an otherwise clean track record.

On the front of sound, this is the most atmospheric soundtrack I've ever had the pleasure of listening to in a very long time. Not exactly immersive, as it doesn't set the dystopia-feel of the city, but the ambient beats certainly have a home in the runner's head as they're vaulting the rooftops, or sprinting away from the hailfire of the local police. In fact, this is another instance where the soundtrack and invaded my casual listening time, which isn't something that happens very often. On top of that, the heavy breathing, and wind rushing past you as you sprint and leap from building to building is a positively ecstatic feeling that more games should strive to achieve.

There are 3 bags hidden throughout this review.

Despite being admittedly short, and sometimes too fickle a mistress with ledge grabs, jumps, disarm timings, and combat, the game does a lot to really push forward in the right direction, especially where art, graphics, and design on concerned. It's a fun game that gives a lot without asking for too much in return. The play experience actually flows with the movement, and really presses home that sometimes just because it's tried and true doesn't mean it's right.

Verdict

Buy It. Some may argue it's short enough for a rental, but this is the sort of game that can be enjoyed for an extended period well after its first completion. If you must, give it a rent until the price goes down, but this game has a strong appeal, flavor, and a competent-enough online mode to make it worth the price. Although some may argue the built-in sound test is enough to merit a buy. I'd highly recommend this game, frustrations and quirks in all.

Sounds good; I might consider buying it.

However, I would like to ask one question: Is the game completely played in a 1st Person perspective (like Half-Life), or are there cut-scenes?

EDIT: By the way, great review, but you need to structure it a bit more solidly. By the way, how do you do those picture captions?

You have just convinced me to get this game, bravo good sir.

$50 says that the PC version will require you to actually show off parkour movement in order to play your copy.

Lord Krunk:
Sounds good; I might consider buying it.

However, I would like to ask one question: Is the game completely played in a 1st Person perspective (like Half-Life), or are there cut-scenes?

EDIT: By the way, great review, but you need to structure it a bit more solidly. By the way, how do you do those picture captions?

The in-game stuff is all first-person. Between the levels, or Chapters, is a small cutscene. This is from the third person perspective, and is a very comic-book-animation/e-surance commercial style narrative. It certainly gives you the feeling that Faith is very much a prowling cat half of the time she's sneaking around or moving.

Danzorz:
You have just convinced me to get this game, bravo good sir.

Hurrah!

Indigo_Dingo:
$50 says that the PC version will require you to actually show off parkour movement in order to play your copy.

Or register with EA. Personally, I prefer your way.

I couldn't agree with you more. I got this game the first day it came out in Europe and was completely drawn in from there. The gameplay is just fantastic, and the music is the best I've heard in at least five years.

Just one little thing I might disagree with you on: Despite some very difficult sections wherein it was extremely difficult for me to get out without shooting anyone (I did make it though) I actually loved the difficulty. It's been quite a while since I had to try a section again and again and again (sometimes to my slight annoyance). It made me feel like I was playing an old-school game; when game devs weren't afraid to make a couple difficult sections you'd never be able to pass through at your first try. Plus it was another opportunity to listen to the awesome combat music :).

Anyway I'm on my way completing it on hard without shooting anyone just to see if I can :P

For Christs' sake, why the hell has it been delayed for the PC?

J-Man:
For Christs' sake, why the hell has it been delayed for the PC?

Because EA need time to develop an even more fiedish form of DRM

Thank you for the good review! The first one I've heard, despite being a big fan myself and having purchased the game already, it's reviews like this that my other friends and acquaintances need to read...

Lord Krunk:
EDIT: By the way, great review, but you need to structure it a bit more solidly. By the way, how do you do those picture captions?

Touching up on this, I totally forgot to mention it.

The image with captions is the img_inline command, hit quote to really see the jist of how it works. But for the short nitty-gritty, it looks like this:
[img_inline caption="Caption goes here. Remember, if the image is small, the caption will stretch the box.
And you can have forced line breaks, which is cool." width="NumberInPixels" height="NumberInPixels" align="left/center/right"]http://www.imageaddressgoeshere.edu/seriously/andmakesureit'snotphporsomething.png[/img_inline]

Remember that it will bump your text over from the point is appears and downward. Also, don't forget to scale down your images. If you don't, like I originally forgot to do, will force a large image (like my first one, which is 1280x1024) stretch the image wider than the forum allows, and futzes things up.

J-Man:
For Christs' sake, why the hell has it been delayed for the PC?

Also, from a personal experience standpoint, you'd have a very awkward time getting some of the agility of this game down with a mouse. Jump, slide, punch, disarm, and turn-around-suddenly all have to be hinged on the quick. Since you have two sticks on the controller, the layout is very simple. You won't on the PC, though (short of a gamepad), so it would require (at least to have a comparable experience) a two-mouse setup, which would look silly, but in retrospect, be awesome.

Although I agree, it does need a PC release.

Indigo_Dingo:

J-Man:
For Christs' sake, why the hell has it been delayed for the PC?

Because EA need time to develop an even more fiedish form of DRM

Oh God, I forgot about that. What is it with developers and DRM? All it does is screw the legit players, because pirates will have found ways around it that the actual paying customers haven't. It's like the DRM-music provided by iTunes. It's just a bad idea, guys.

Sir_Montague:
Thank you for the good review! The first one I've heard, despite being a big fan myself and having purchased the game already, it's reviews like this that my other friends and acquaintances need to read...

Thank you. I do have a lot good to say about the game, even though it can be criminally frustrating and irritating to a high degree quite often. Although it's quite fun, and I positively love the atmosphere. It's not perfect though. I wonder if, with some work, they can clean up a lot of the hiccups I've bumped into with the PC version, or if those are "permanent features"?

Mirror's Edge is fun but the levels are repetitive, the storytelling is ham handed and the campaign just isn't long enough to justify paying full price for the Game. Renting it is good Idea since you probably won't experience anything like it this cycle and you can beat it in just under a weekend.

I disagree with the 'rental' argument, I find the time trials to be more fun than the campaign, and those are certainly not going to get done in a weekend unless you dedicate a way-more-than-just-unhealthy amount of time. (or cheat and peek at a video of it being done.)

A good review NewClassic, you hit all your points well, and have managed to re-convince me to buy the game.

Sennz0r:

Anyway I'm on my way completing it on hard without shooting anyone just to see if I can :P

My second play-through was both hard mode and going for the no-guns achievement at once. Very stupid of me, but I got it done. Still going for the one where you don't get shot. but where's the no-punch achievement everyone's talking about? I haven't seen it.

You noted that jump height and length was very sporadic. Being madly in love with N Game, can I suggest it might be the result of a momentum system? So the jumps that more approximated an old man falling onto his bed might have come after you had jumped directly down onto (the wrong side of) a pole, and your superjumps might have come of the back of a relatively slight earlier jump that went forwards and a bit upwards, giving you both upwards and forwards momentum for the next. I'm not sure, not having played, but this is something I'd like to hear your thoughts on.

orannis62:

Sennz0r:

Anyway I'm on my way completing it on hard without shooting anyone just to see if I can :P

My second play-through was both hard mode and going for the no-guns achievement at once. Very stupid of me, but I got it done. Still going for the one where you don't get shot. but where's the no-punch achievement everyone's talking about? I haven't seen it.

It's not there, it was a load of crap :P
I already have that one, and the no heavy landing one as well.
I didn't finish my second playthrough on Hard difficulty without using guns though. I just wanted to get to the end and the Shard level is the only level I used a sniper rifle and a semi-auto gun on. You know the scenarios I'm talking about right? the last two before the end bit on the roof? I retried those so many times on normal without guns and was absolutely not looking forward to doing that again. Just wanted to see the awesome ending again.

That title is just horrible. Other than that, not a bad review at all. Oh, and you might want to tone it down on the EA burn a bit. Not to say I don't disagree [I agreeeeee, strongly!], but while of course the opinion of one person, a review shouldn't burn anything but the game if it sucks.

A good review, I was going to write one myself once I manage to finish the main story mode but there seems little point now :) I agree that it's actually quite nice to have a game that's challenging in places, I'm doing Gears of War 2 in co-op on hard and my friend and I both agree that's it's way too easy. Of course if we did it without shooting anyone (as I'm trying to do in Mirror's Edge) then it would be harder, but sort of defeating the point...

Anyway I've gone off on a tangent. Good review of a good game.

Indigo_Dingo:

J-Man:
For Christs' sake, why the hell has it been delayed for the PC?

Because EA need time to develop an even more fiedish form of DRM

It's like they all got bored at the office and decided to play the "How Angry Can We Make Our Customers Game".

John (EA employee #1): Let's make 'em reinstall their O.S. every time they want to reinstall our game!

Joe (EA employee #2): Nah, too soft, let's make them cry, then they can mail us their tears, we send back a seal of approval once we've validated their tears, saying that they can install it once, and once only, for thirty minutes maximum, before they then must reinstall their OS, and reinstall it, if they so choose.

Jack (EA boss): I like the way you boys think, I'm promoting you two to joint CEOs of our company.

Joe and John: Score!

[zonking great]:
That title is just horrible. Other than that, not a bad review at all. Oh, and you might want to tone it down on the EA burn a bit. Not to say I don't disagree [I agreeeeee, strongly!], but while of course the opinion of one person, a review shouldn't burn anything but the game if it sucks.

I'm somewhat confused here, as I only had one very short, even a throw-away line, joke about EA. And that's the last I said of it. Really, 99% of the review was actual content.

Ah well.

Saskwach:
You noted that jump height and length was very sporadic. Being madly in love with N Game, can I suggest it might be the result of a momentum system? So the jumps that more approximated an old man falling onto his bed might have come after you had jumped directly down onto (the wrong side of) a pole, and your superjumps might have come of the back of a relatively slight earlier jump that went forwards and a bit upwards, giving you both upwards and forwards momentum for the next. I'm not sure, not having played, but this is something I'd like to hear your thoughts on.

I learned later, after doing a Hard run-through, that the jumping is very specifically based on two things. One of them is if the game feels you should make a jump to a specific point, and are looking directly at the point in question, and two, where your reticule is facing at the time. It's not a perfect system, and still has some hiccups like those I described, but otherwise is a pretty solid system.

What I said previously, though, still stands. Because at times, I forgot I can't make large jumps from pipes and hanging off of ledges whenever I'm jumping into the air instead of directly to a platform. Otherwise, though, it's a good system.

And yes, momentum has a lot to do with jump height/distance, although it's a very hard thing to gauge, because you have a very finite momentum gain, and no easy-reference gauge (just the blurring of your vision at the corners), so it's a lot of guess-and-check. It's not as big a problem on N or N+ because you have some leeway on jump height and distance, mostly on landing and placement finesse, whereas Mirror's Edge puts a lot of emphasis on the timing of the jump, and the reticule placement. Where momentum does have the most effect is off of ramps and on swings. Pipes and ledges kill all momentum when you land on them.

That, and the Ninja from N has a lot more ups than poor Faith.

Sennz0r:

orannis62:

Sennz0r:

Anyway I'm on my way completing it on hard without shooting anyone just to see if I can :P

My second play-through was both hard mode and going for the no-guns achievement at once. Very stupid of me, but I got it done. Still going for the one where you don't get shot. but where's the no-punch achievement everyone's talking about? I haven't seen it.

It's not there, it was a load of crap :P
I already have that one, and the no heavy landing one as well.
I didn't finish my second playthrough on Hard difficulty without using guns though. I just wanted to get to the end and the Shard level is the only level I used a sniper rifle and a semi-auto gun on. You know the scenarios I'm talking about right? the last two before the end bit on the roof? I retried those so many times on normal without guns and was absolutely not looking forward to doing that again. Just wanted to see the awesome ending again.

Those parts before the end are tough, and it took me more than a few tries but I did it without guns. Just stick with a constant route so you can see your mistakes, i.e, don't fail then try a totally different way unless it is impossible (not difficult; impossible, like your jumps are 20 feet short) to do it the previous way.

I have the game and I enjoy it but I have to disagree on one thing. Mirrors Edge is unique but not innovative.

But a good review.

Best review I've read on The Escapist in... months.

Nice to see someone going against the grain with regards to the length of the main story and the cut scenes. It oozes replay value.

orannis62:

Sennz0r:

Anyway I'm on my way completing it on hard without shooting anyone just to see if I can :P

My second play-through was both hard mode and going for the no-guns achievement at once. Very stupid of me, but I got it done. Still going for the one where you don't get shot. but where's the no-punch achievement everyone's talking about? I haven't seen it.

They probably thought it was the "secret" achievement (hint: it isn't, the secret achievement is something different for those that haven't found it. Course I got it ENTIRELY by accident)

One thing i simply love is the soundtrack. It's so fitting for a girl just jumping through a sprawling city. A free run mode also would have been AMAZING

The demo piqued my interest in this title. Coupled with this review, I will give it a go.

 

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