244: Stumbling Through Mirror's Edge

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT
 

Stumbling Through Mirror's Edge

Mirror's Edge is a beautiful paradox: a first-person action game that emphasized "flight" over "fight." But while it took a familiar genre and reconfigured it into an entirely new kind of gameplay, it was also deeply flawed. Michael Cook examines what brought Mirror's Edge close to greatness, and what held it back.

Read Full Article

You know, I never once even began to enjoy Mirror's Edge. While I appreciated the novelty, I just think the game failed in the one place that all good games should triumph: fun.

An excellent and thoughtful article, thanks!

I completely ignored all its shortcomings. The way the camera moves and the player character handles was just so immersive. The fact that climbing, jumping and turning around while wall-running wasn't some automatic "press X here to jump to the next ledge" was what did it for me. It just makes you feel more in control of the whole situation. It makes you feel as if you understand the delicacy with which each move is performed and how a small slip can make you fall 30 stories onto a slab of concrete. Incidentally, the whooshing sound of the air when falling was scary as hell.

The whole way it handled momentum was also part of this. You have to play with your speed and your direction to keep Faith going (that sentence sounds weird). You can't just turn 90 degrees and keep running at the same speed, or hold the sprint button for 2 steps and achieve max speed. It just felt so ... plausible, to avoid using the word "realistic".

Same as achilleas.k , i could ignore all shortcomings, and other than AITD (mentioned in the other article), i still love this game dearly.

Yes, it's short, the story sucks and any attempt at combat should've been left out to begin with, but it's immersive feel and flow, the great design, cool music and most of all, all those awesome "HOLY SHIT EVERYONE WANTS TO KILL ME RUN AWAY!" setpieces.

And while being short, it has replayability in a way few Action-Games manage: It makes me just want to play the level again to perfect it. There is a lot of stumbling in the game, but getting through a level without failing or stopping is enormously satisfying.

I am still sad that shortly after launch it seemed like every gamer community decided to hate the game for being hard and "weird", because i did not expect it to have perfect gameplay like Call of Gears of Another Shooter 4. I expected it to be a fresh new gameplay experience (you know, the thing that exactly the same people who bashed ME pretend to long after), and i got that, even though there is lot to improve.

So i am still eagerly waiting for an unlikely sequel

For all it's flaws I still love Mirror's Edge and hope for a sequel

Sure there were quite a few flaws that made the game a shy away from greatness, but, in my opinion, the game is fun, immersive and visually stunning.

I hope they make a sequel. I really, REALLY hope they make a sequel.

There was never a game I had higher hopes for than Mirror's Edge. The concept, the setup, the aesthetics all looked brilliant. I since bought the game, and couldn't get over the bad parts. The story telling was atrocious. The running, whilst exhilerating, consisted of only a few moves, meaning repetition set in despite the shortness of the game.

I think the game would have been improved massively if, instead of those ugly cartoon cutscenes, you got to stay in the character - HalfLife style. You only see Faith's actual face twice in the game, whilst certain support characters you never see once outside of the cartoons. Perhaps if they could show Faith taking time out, not rushing along with the plot, there might of been time to develop her personality. Outside of looking after her sister, she doesn't seem to have a life.

The problem is that the game came so, so close, but failed in the aspects that really affect the experience. The plot was boring and stupid and the level design, as great as it is, had so many police that it took hours sometimes to get past them.

But it was, after all, a great experience for me, and hearing 'Still Alive' always makes me want to start running. I hope the sequel is something like Assassin's Creed II in terms of fixing the flaws and maintaining what was great.

I made a conscious decision before I played the game, and that was not to use guns. And it paid off! Using a gun in Mirror's Edge cheapens the game (and the mechanics of shooting in the game sucked anyways). The guns felt like they were put in afterwards, like EA's usability came back saying "people want guns in a FPS game, so put guns in Mirror's Edge"...

Did the game have it's faults? Sure. About as much as any other game out there. But with EA committing to this IP, I can see the next Mirror's Edge is going to be great (lets hope they put in some online games of tag!)

It appears this game is a pure Marmite, from the comments so far. :)

I definitely had an issue with the combat. I tried going through my first playthrough for the "no shot fired" achievement, which (aside from being an achievement junkie and needing my fix) seemed to me like the way the game should be played. I didn't want this game to be a shooter. Before the game came out, I played the demo into the ground; I was totally hooked on the style of "run, jump, flow" through the city, with "combat" limited to "kick, disarm, drop the gun, and run". That was the game I wanted to play.

Some of those levels were head-poundingly frustrating, though, having the self-imposed limitation of not shooting. The old saying "never bring a knife to a gunfight" is even more true when you have a half dozen guys shooting at you from different directions and you substitute "knife" with "bare hands".

That, and I found the controls extremely unforgiving. Way too often, I felt like I was fighting the controller as much as anything else. I'd know that I'd want to make a certain jump or turn, but if I didn't hit the right bumper button at the right microsecond, I'd find myself flat on my back on a platform thirty feet below with the wind knocked out of me, if I was lucky. (And using the bumpers anyway felt really awkward; my hands always seemed to feel more cramped after a night of Mirror's Edge than any other game.) It's even more aggravating when you're working on a time trial and that one microsecond miss results in complete failure.

It was the "you need to go here, do this, go there, jump there or don't progress" level design that took out most of the fun of the game for me. For a game that prided itself on its "free running", the linearity of the levels was absolutely shocking and disappointing. I didn't mind the combat segments at all, actually - I liked the "disarm, grab, shoot"-mechanics.

But the linearity of the levels? I'd much rather have something like Assassin's Creed II there for the next part, with the ability to properly free-roam.

What I really hated about this game were the classic fps elements: the gunfights (especially the mandatory ones). I think the innovative aspects of the game were lots of fun and very well implemented. Sure the cutscenes could have been better, but I liked those, I prefer them taking the time to make an animated cutscene than just making them with game models (I still resent Warcraft 3 for that).

To me, this article is pretty much the opposite of this one: The Tragedy of Alone in the Dark
Alone in the Dark had many great ideas, but they only looked good on paper.

I really really enjoyed that game and cannot overstate my hope for a sequel. If Assassin's Creed 2 can do it, Mirror's Edge 2 can too. (That's a funny-sounding sentence :P)

And what's really important about the sequel is that there should still be a PC version. Mirror's Edge PC was just so much better than the 360 version (dare I say "leaps and bounds better"), both of which I played.

Mirrors Edge was an awesome game. It had NO FLAWS. All the flaws were just players whinging about indoor levels and stuff that they did not understand. Crybabies indeed.

Personally I hope that they do not change a single thing for Mirrors Edge 2.

Actually, I think one major point of consideration is that the economy is in trouble and has been for a couple of years now. As a result I think a lot of people who were the target audience for a concept like this when it was conceived years beforehand, simply did not have the money to buy it. That and increasing caution lead to a lot of people taking reviews a lot more seriously than they did previously.

One of the concerns I've had about EA is that it's going to give up it's innovation and use this period as a way of justifying how being deritive pays off, without any concern for what kinds of things are currently influancing the market other than the game industry and advertising itself.

Face it, no matter how much you promote a game, if people can't easily afford to spend $60 on entertainment, nothing you can do is going to change that.

I loved this game, and I have to struggle really hard to see the same flaws everyone else sees, especially the ones described in the article. Sure, I would've appreciated the cutscenes to stay in first person, half-life style. And I did find a level or two a bit confusing as to what I should do, stay or run. At one point or two I also felt a bit more encouraged to stick with a gun than I would've liked, but I actually liked the way the weapons felt. They felt realistic, or at least "plausable", as someone else put it, I've always enjoyed "no HUD" in the few games I've played with that feature, and instead of feeling irritated at the obvious difficulties with using a weapon, it just felt challenging to me in a fun way.

But nothing ever bothered me to any noteworthy extent. I wanted to keep playing the whole time, find secrets and easter eggs, beat my times, try new routes...

The one thing that annoys me the most about the criticism this game has recieved is the one regarding the difficulty. People describe how they died "hundreds of times" because the game is too "stupid" when it comes to detecting when you actually grab a ledge, for example. I never noticed that problem myself; if I failed, it was my own fault. And it pushed me to try again, to succeed, to play well enough to have Faith running at her best.

I really, REALLY (really, I kid you not), hope that they don't "dumb down" the sequel too much...It's supposed to be hard! It's supposed to be challenging! That's part of its charm, one of the things that make you commit to the game and the concept! Personally, it was one of the things that made me feel more immersed. It felt more..."plausable"... ;)

And for those of you who don't know or don't have confirmation: A SEQUEL IS COMING! They've confirmed it in interviews and such.

And nobody mentions the really good music? Come on, Still Alive?!

I would say that Mirror's Edge is the most misunderstood game masterpiece I've ever played. I got it on its launch date, and I'm still playing it (as of last night!). I'm currently in the second-to-last episode in Hard Difficulty to get the Pro Runner achievement while trying to get the Test of Faith achievement at the same time (call me a masochist), so I have something to say about the biggest complaint this game has: the combat system.
I think, while trying to get these achievements, that I figured out how the combat system is not really flawed. I understand now how you can get out of even the tightest spots filled with armored gun men without having to face most of them. There is always a way to either run around them, or trick them into facing you one-by-one so you can knock them out without disarming them. And I don't think the developers half-assed the shooting mechanics, they just tried to make them believable for the type of character you are playing. Faith, you see, has a very small body frame, so she can't move as swiftly carrying a machine gun, nor can she withstand more than a couple of hits to the face with the butt-end of a gun. Plus, she often is facing a much bigger person than her wearing an armored suit.
I have to admit that it took a lot of play-throughs to get to understand the game's combat mechanics, as well as some of the trickiest parkour moves. But like the Xtreme sport it is modeled after, you should expect that you won't just fly through the game's challenges on the first, second, or even third try.
On a related note, I actually love the story, and I also loved the art direction and the way it was presented. Maybe Mirror's Edge is like an art film, a labor of love meant to be appreciated only by the gamers that really stick to it. I did, and my personal opinion is that this is the best game I have played on the Xbox 360 so far. I'm only hoping DICE won't break the gameplay to pander to the general audience for the sequel!

Hey folks! I can't say I'm surprised to see a mixed results here - some people loved Mirror's Edge, some hated it. This article was a great opportunity for me to finally conclude my love affair with the game - I had spent last Summer exploring it fully in a blog dedicated to it, The Runner. You can still read the runner over here:

www.bluecasket.co.uk/runner

If any of you are in doubt over my feelings about the game - I think it's superb. It's an interesting study in terms of game design - for all it did right, ultimately it forgot to cover the really important stuff in full.

The sequel's confirmed and I've got high hopes. Glad to see some of you do, too.

heavyness:
I made a conscious decision before I played the game, and that was not to use guns. And it paid off! Using a gun in Mirror's Edge cheapens the game (and the mechanics of shooting in the game sucked anyways). The guns felt like they were put in afterwards, like EA's usability came back saying "people want guns in a FPS game, so put guns in Mirror's Edge"...

Did the game have it's faults? Sure. About as much as any other game out there. But with EA committing to this IP, I can see the next Mirror's Edge is going to be great (lets hope they put in some online games of tag!)

This is exactly how I feel. I love Mirror's Edge, we need more people with the guts to do something different. Of course the first game isn't going to be brilliant? What you think the first FPS, RTS, whatever was brilliant? No it was deeply flawed. That's Mirrors Edge deeply flawed yes, but it is still a good and one well worth a sequel.

My biggest issues with Mirror's Edge all boil down to two things:

1. Sometimes I have to fight, why do I have to fight? This is a speed game, focusing on RUNNING! Why can't I simply outpace my enemies and make a daring escape? One particular place comes to mind in the end, when you need to destroy some servers to gain rooftop access. There is pretty much one gazillion guards in this room, and one of them stands smack in the middle of where you need to go and will NOT under any circumstances move. You HAVE to finish him off to proceed, which involves dealing with all the other guards first, or they will rape you as you take care of this rooted-in-place guard.
2. Why the hell is the "jump" button the same as the "wallrun" button? (Xbox 360, don't know if it is the same on PS3 or PC versions) I died literally HUNDREDS of times when I ran next to a wall, pushed down the wallrun/jump button and expected so slide along the wall to my escape, but instead took a fine hop into the abyss below and DIED TERRIBLY.

The worst part is probably the combination of these two, in a mall where you need to jump up to the roof through a duct, forcing you to jump over a glass... thing... waaaay above the rest of the mall, and there are six or seven guards below you shooting at you. And that glass is really bad at protecting you from bullets... And to get to this, you must wallrun and swing over a really tricky part. While under heavy fire. Unprotected.
My first fifty attempts: Run fast as possible, try to jump and dodge the bullets. Complete failure, I could make it about 90% of the way before constantly getting gunned down.
My 50th->100th attempt (eventually worked): Run around and lure up the guards one and one, beat them up and THEN do the tricky jump (which I still failed at like twenty times, despite no guards being around)

Sure, the story is pretty "meh", but this really doesn't make you want to fling your controller through the TV, like jumping over the same FUCKING chasm for the hundredth FUCKING time when the FUCKING game thought that wallrunning was for pussies and you should totally jump here instead of wallrunning.

Eruanno:
2. Why the hell is the "jump" button the same as the "wallrun" button? (Xbox 360, don't know if it is the same on PS3 or PC versions) I died literally HUNDREDS of times when I ran next to a wall, pushed down the wallrun/jump button and expected so slide along the wall to my escape, but instead took a fine hop into the abyss below and DIED TERRIBLY.

That's an interesting one. I kind of came to like it - you get a 'feel' for jumping into the wall. But then again, I was using a mouse so there was a bit more fidelity in the directions you could take Faith in.

I played the PC version for about 5 minutes with a controller before I got pissed off, gave up and played with the mouse and keyboard. It really did feel like a game designed for that control scheme, and I do recommend anyone who got annoyed with the controls to try them on PC.

I really enjoyed Mirror's Edge, much like some of the other posters here I wasn't bothered too much by its shortcomings; it was just fun to figure out the fastest routes, and try to be as stylish as possible while doing it.

Also, it had a kick-ass soundtrack, I love the Mirror's Edge theme.

I never noticed any of the flaws, in my mind Mirrors Edge is and will always be a perfect game, I don't know why I love it so much, I didn't even know of it until shortly before release.

I both loved and hated Mirror's Edge. I loved the running and jumping part, I loved some of the running away from bad guys part. Several levels were fantastic in their design.

But I hated the combat, I was rubbish at disarming, the brain washed runners just annoyed me and it always interrupted the flow of the gameplay.

I just wanted a game where I could run.

Mirrors Edge was amazing. And despite all its flaws, its still more immersive to me than any other first person game. And for 1 reason: I can see my feet when I look down.

It may seem like a small detail, but nothing, nothing kills immersion faster than looking down and realising your just a floating camera with arms.

Only played the demo, so I can only say it is quite original and brightly coloured.

Digikid:
Mirrors Edge was an awesome game. It had NO FLAWS. All the flaws were just players whinging about indoor levels and stuff that they did not understand. Crybabies indeed.

Personally I hope that they do not change a single thing for Mirrors Edge 2.

I don't know, I for one could have done without a few of the gunfights. I think ME was an awesome game, a great pioneer for a different game style. But, like any game it had it's ups and downs. Here's to looking forward to an even awesome-er sequel!

Nice article - captures the essence of what held the game back well. So often I would run into a room, start looking for the next platform to leap to then get filled with lead because apparently this room was where you went all masterchief on their asses.

In designing the combat areas, I would have simply ensured that you could ALWAYS run through. It should be possible to play a pacifist in a game that's all about running. Then again, maybe that's a commentary that no matter how hard we try, we cannot always escape violence, the inevitability of conflict catching up no matter how hard you run... or perhaps I'm reading too much into this and Dice just couldn't abandon shooting completely.

Every critic has to be a critic, it's why they're paid to be critics. lol And to each their own, I guess. I found this game simply incredible, but then I also guess I'm a more easy to please gamer than most. I marvel in the feel of Mirror's Edge, from the visuals, story, and characters (especially when a female lead). But that's just me, too appreciative maybe, having coming into the modern gaming world later than most. But I found the game great fun and hope for more like it! Now for it's length it was quite overpriced, which IMO was what held the game back most. (But then again I never buy a game right out of the gate anyway unless it's a MAJOR desire. heh)

As for the combat, my god, wtf with that already? Flight over fight, sort of, but come on, the whole point of the game was the character was not a fighter! The combat was what it was, not as refined as actual shooters -- ON PURPOSE! Geez.

Funny thing was taking the pacifist route (never using the guns, just disarming) made the game pretty fun and challenging. I'd get many of the same feelings from 90's platformers where I'd have to understand everything on a game logic level. The room wasn't a simple equation to be overturned with a few swift kicks or a frenzy of button mashing. Each room was a series of hurdles with specific timing for victory.

Play the game more like the original MegaMan and less like a modern shooter/action game. I'd definitely agree that the designers didn't present their case this way though.

I hope they are going to do what Ubisoft did to Assassins Creed 2 with Mirrors Edge 2, take away most of the flaws and make it super enjoyable :]

AntiAntagonist:
I'd get many of the same feelings from 90's platformers where I'd have to understand everything on a game logic level.

That's exactly how I felt only I couldn't put it into words. You have to feel the way the game lets you play. It's like the original Super Mario Bros., where you had to understand the timing of pressing the jump key when stomping on a baddie, or how far a jump can take you if you chain it with a jump from a higher location.

Games these days are too "standardised" in that regard. There's no flow. Whether you jump forward from a standstill, jump while you're sprinting or jump after running up a ramp, it just feels the same.

WestMountain:
I hope they are going to do what Ubisoft did to Assassins Creed 2 with Mirrors Edge 2, take away most of the flaws and make it super enjoyable :]

But hopefully not tie it down with The World's Most Arse Backwards DRM.

Also: parklife!

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Your account does not have posting rights. If you feel this is in error, please contact an administrator. (ID# 58872)