244: Stumbling Through Mirror's Edge

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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".

Excellent points.

I loved Mirror's Edge, thought it was new, interesting, and a blast to play. Sure, the story was terrible, but thank God for skippable cutscenes. I loved the vertical levels, and the ability to look down and see how much you've really accomplished, rather then have a third-person view where you see what you CHARACTER has accomplished. Plus, I got a huge grin of my face everytime I pulled off an amazing series of moves, just cause I know the cops were probably thinking "How the hell did she just do that?". Then again, also got a huge grin each time Faith fell to her death, mostly cause it actually had a really good rush to falling, something I haven't really seen in anything else cept AAAAAaaaaAAAAaaaaAAAAaaa!!! (or however you spell it)

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.

This is the winning answer. The fact that shooting was in the game at all was a bit of betrayal to the flow of the game. The inevitability of violence thing is silly thing to put in a game; conflict will catch up, but you still can get out of it a different way. Just look at Ghandi.

Anyway, I liked the game, but not enough to experiment for hours with the time trials, once I figured out how hard they were to get good at. I would have preferred first person, honestly. The tunnel vision of first person is not something I've ever done well with, and parkour's all about using different things in your environment anyway, but I can understand others feel differently than I do.

I actually stopped playing this game, because the stop/start gameplay annoyed the shit out of me. If it was all free-running it would have been much, much better.

I love this game, one of my favorite on the 360, but I agree that the plot is nonsensical. Skippable cutscenes minimize that, though.

My main problem is with the slow combat. Yes, the learning curve is a little steep compared to some other games, but with practice you can combo parry/one-hit-kill virtually anyone. This is great. The problem is whenever you are forced to hide, wait, or fight from cover the momentum for the game breaks... it's not particularly hard (compared to, say COD) but it stops the game cold. It's the equivalent of putting mandatory GH boss stages in a FPS. ("You may have infiltrated my base, but can you survive Through the Fire and Flames on expert???")

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.

ok, i wouldn't say the game is broken, but i DEFINATLY would not go as far as to say that it had no flaws.

personally, i liked the indoor sections of the game, it gave a whole sense of realism to the world that we were pretty much plunked into, and seeing construction equipment, cars, unopened stalls in the mall, and the elevator articles all gave a sense of "this is a believable place" that gamers like me are looking for, what i DIDN'T like was one of the first things that came up in the original article. the combat.

oh dear god this was awful, every fight for me consisted of running at an enemy, slide kick to the nuts, the punch till he falls down. if he doesn't fall down fast enough or has a really big gun, i slow motion and disarm. there really wasn't much as far as variety with practicality goes.

also, the game felt too short, the hint button was no use at all during the first play through, and the games intentions felt very schizophrenic, i.e. wanting to fit 12 hours of ideas into a 8 hour game. but now i'm just nit-picking. if anything, this article made me want to play it again... and i think i shall.

i also get intimidated by the dirty pigeons, they love a bit of it!

you legend

I beat Mirror's Edge using only 2 disarms (on the mandatory boss disarm section) and 1 weapon (the sniper rifle provided against a truck). At no point did I disarm anyone else, or use a single firearm against a human.

I did, however, kick about a hundred men in the balls.

And I enjoyed it a lot!

The server room was ridiculously hard, though.

All the parkour stuff was really fun, and I liked the storyline too (although it went by far too fast -- you barely get introduced to people before they get their twist revelation). The combat was the major downer.

I made the choice beforehand to try to avoid using weapons at all (despite playing on PC so not having an achievement to earn for it). For the most part this was pretty straightforward and felt good and in tune with the game's theme. But in some areas (especially the opening area of the ship, where you arrive in the back of a truck) it got just a little too tedious (wipe out three guys, run for the fourth but just a little too slow and you're dead. Rinse and repeat.) Oddly enough I don't remember having nearly as much trouble in the server room.

I'm glad there's going to be a sequel, though.

i also get intimidated by the dirty pigeons, they love a bit of it!

you legend

I knew someone would see that. Nice. ;)

I really think Mirrors edge was a victim of its own hype/PR machine, and not anything inherently wrong with the game. Having not heard about it till it was released, and salivating once I saw the trailer I really didn't have alot of expectations going in except running and awesome would ensue. In comparison though if you went in expecting certain things from the game (no combat as an example), you probably got run down some.

I mean, I still can't beleive this didn't sell great?! It was literally my favorite game I played since portal and just as good of a deal (payed a discounted price on steam 1-2 months after it came out). It was just totally different from any other game, and thankfully instead of creeping into it they mostly wholeheartedly jumped into how/why it was different. From the amazing visual style (reflective pristine simplicity of outside to the varied interiors), to the slick tricks, to a good sense of urgency it screamed different yet cool immediately. I'll get to the gameplay later, but I didn't have a single problem with it. Once I realized the whole thing was working off of a consistent physics model and the games emphasis was on speed it became a smooth masterpeice of a 6hour chase scene. Not only that for a single player game, you could literally just WATCH someone play it and enjoy it if they were flowing well.

The gameplay was very tight, although I freely admit I sucked horribly at first. I'm one of those people that refuse to get a gamepad for a PC, so it was mouse/keyboard from the get go [although I did bind some stuff to the thumb buttons on the mouse etc]. I really think that made the difference. Not that the game was designed soley for the PC, but the margin for error WAS larger with the increased precision of a mouse. In fact, knowing how everything was when it worked right, I was able to play it on my brother's PS3 without any of the constant dying he had [and once he saw how it was supposed to be played, neither did he]. The big trick was realizing even though you were disoriented and didn't know your way, the game just worked better if you focused on FLOW instead of direction. Sure occasionally your had to stop to look around, but usually it all worked out if you just ran flat out and always went for the high ground. In that sense the red path guides were cruical on a first playthrough (although replays are much better without them). You could be a total noob, partially lost running full tilt and still know where to go at the last second, allowing the proper trick if you were fast enough.

Alot of people also hated the combat but it really fit the mood & story. The combat wasn't an add on, it reinforced the sense of pace (actively with chases at times) to keep you flowing and not slowing down. Your character was not James Bond, nor Bruce Lee; her whole collection of skills involved movement and running. So of course she sucked with a gun mostly, and based on all the tricks you do, of course you had to ditch them fast. Most of the "non-optional" fight parts (where the enemies were outlined in red) were actually skippable if you just moved fast enough or found the right path because you could get shot a few times... Its here that the reality of the game really came up short, but didn't detract from the immersion (and infact the comic style cutscenes helped) because the game infact had a movie/comic feel. At points it really felt like a chase out of the matrix except with more realism in respect to physics. When you did in fact REALLY have to fight, the most effective moves came still relied on speed. A wall-run flying kick was an instant KO, and a sliding balls kick stunned a guard long enough to usually get out of sight. When there were more guards it became a ballet of quick disable [I gave up on timing take downs because it was too slow] --> grab a gun, run up/around to the next and quickly shoot them when you were close ---> drop gun, then flee or pick up next one. Except for 1-2 areas, taking out two key guards was enough for resuming your getaway. MOST importantly, the chase's and combat made the areas without them later in the game really shine. The favorite sequences were: the sewer catwalk climb area & the under construction building climb. They were a bit slower paced, had some puzzle elements, and look absolutely cinematic if run without slowing down or messing up. I came back again and again to time trial these sections, and also to clear some firefight areas without ever touching a guard or slowing.

It just depressed me when I didn't know if this would have a sequal, and I really hope we see more than an iPhone game out of the IP... I remain amazed how different Mirrors Edge and Assassin's Creed were using similar ideas on movement, and I know which one I liked better. Given a longer game, and maybe a proper tutorial and I'm conviced you would have dinamite of a sequal.

I ended up stuck with Mirror's Edge for a week longer than I had wanted, so I can say it's the most enjoyable when it says 'here, run in this direction, don't fall'. Although frankly it had less 'now what?' moments than the average game for me. I'd say it shouldn't even have a plot, but that's asking for a much greater revolution than its developers were probably willing to commit to. They would never take that kind of leap of faith (har har).

But it shouldn't have gunplay, that I agree. It's obvious that gunplay was tacked to ME after some meddling executives (which are also shortened to ME) decided that people expected it, and if you didn't put it in people would be asking why Faith couldn't pick up the guns that the enemies dropped. And it killed the gameplay, simply because incapacitating a man wielding a machine gun you often find bolted to the top of a Humvee and wearing more padding than an elderly fencer by kicking his gun, grabbing it, hitting him in the chin, and then throwing the gun over your shoulder is a powerful statement, one that ME refused to say to fit the norm more. Which is very bad when your entire game's selling point is that it's not just another game.

But at many other times it locks you into a series of tighter and tighter spots until you're forced to disarm opponents, steal weapons and rely on your twitch-shooter reflexes.

This simply isn't true. At no point in the game are you forced to use a gun in combat, and there are only two occasions when you must defeat enemies in order to proceed (ship, server room).

Mirror's Edge was a resounding success. It can't be considered a failure because it tried to do something different and ended up doing it extremely well. The obvious replay value (time trials, speed runs) makes its initial brevity a non-issue, assuming that you consider brevity an issue in the first place (I play games for quality, not quantity).

I didn't understand what you were getting at but that's probably because Mirrors Edge is one of my favorite games; I even 3 starred all the time trials.

I beat Mirror's Edge the first time through without firing a single shot at a human being. It was not easy, but when I finally finished the game, there was a nice feeling of accomplishment to it, sort of a "I took the high road and one" deal.

Sadly, Mirror's Edge held too few of those moments and far too many moments where it felt like the game wanted to be a chore. A lot of it, to me, had to do with inconsistency- inexplicable shifts in style, in mood, in gameplay. "Wow, you're moving along, flowing like the wind, but now here's a closed-off building indoors and armed police! Hey, here's a jarring cartoon cutscene that doesn't give you much insight into your character! Here's combat that's beautiful one-on-one, but that completely falls apart in any sort of crowd situation! And oh, here's lots of crowd situations!"

I know that Faith probably weighs ninety pounds soaking wet and holding an anvil, but when she's running along at full speed and she does a full-on double-footed leap into a cop's chest, I expect him to go flying, or at the very least to fall down. Instead, Faith bounces off like a rubber ball and the cop barely staggers. For all the feel of momentum the game has during running, trying to be a speedster in combat makes her seem more like a sandbag than a human being.

Also, the level construction felt kind of haphazard as well. Not in the visuals- I was constantly wowed by the graphics when over-bloomed white concrete wasn't turning my retinas to ash- but by, again, the flow. There were times that it felt like I was just really starting to move when the game corralled me in what was, for all intents and purposes, a wonderfully scenic alley. Or worse, going indoors and and either traipsing through uninteresting corridors, sprinting past anything interesting in your rush to escape gunfire, or struggling through a momentum-destroying obstacle course.

That being said, it's amazing what the game got right when it was finally hitting on all cylinders. Even in the sound department, which so many other games neglect; during the part where Faith is trapped in a very slow elevator with police peppering with bullets, I actually cringed, because it didn't sound like there were interns with sticks tapping at the elevator- it really sounded like some high-velocity slugs were striking a thin sheet of metal that was all that stood between me and forcible ventilation. It was those moments where it all fell into place that made it so much more disappointing when it all fell apart.

The Rogue Wolf:
I beat Mirror's Edge the first time through without firing a single shot at a human being. It was not easy, but when I finally finished the game, there was a nice feeling of accomplishment to it, sort of a "I took the high road and one" deal.

Good man, glad to know I'm in company. That forced sniper rifle section kinda stings though, as do the two forced disarms on the "sniper".

I had fun with Mirror's Edge, but I do see the points made in this article as fair. The conclusion, however, doesn't sit well with me. While it's true that indie games can often find more room for innovation, I don't think big companies should be told to shy away from it in favour of the tried and true. I think the bean counters give them that lecture often enough, and what do we get? Stale knock-off sequels. I'm willing to forgive a lot if a game does something to feel "fresh."

I really enjoyed this game for a while, but the combat ruined it for me. I hope the sequel fixes the combat (which would be great) or just removes it (would be just fine).

Michael Cook:
I had spent last Summer exploring it fully in a blog dedicated to it, The Runner.

That was you? I really enjoyed reading The Runner, especially the post on the use of colour in Mirror's Edge. I loved ME when I played it (although I recognised its flaws), but The Runner gave me a whole new appreciation for some of the elements.

What a weird day... 2 of the games you point out as deeply flawed Mirror's Edge and Bloodlines are on my top 5 of all times... I didn't really notice any shortcomings in Edge, but I'm no expert so i guess It's forgiven.
Edit: Oh, and also... it doesn't force you to use guns... i have completed it on all difficulties with only shooting the servers and not one person. Only the atrium where they shoot you as u make a hard jump is nerve wrecking on the last difficulty, but still passable...


But at many other times it locks you into a series of tighter and tighter spots until you're forced to disarm opponents, steal weapons and rely on your twitch-shooter reflexes.

This simply isn't true. At no point in the game are you forced to use a gun in combat, and there are only two occasions when you must defeat enemies in order to proceed (ship, server room).

Yes and no. Whilst it is possible to avoid firing a single shot, most gamers won't approach it like that, and there are some moments that most gamers will interpret as a sign they need to engage people.

Good examples here - when you leave the drainage duct system in 'Jacknife', you're told to get out as quickly as possible. But the exit to the area isn't easy to determine while you're under heavy fire, and a lot of people in that situation will switch back to combat mode. That happens more than once.

Once you're in combat, of course there's no need to shoot. You can pick people off, move around - but again, it's frustrating for gamers to get shot down after being surrounded. It's only going to take someone a few retries before they give up.

Now I'm not excusing that - I've become attached to Mirror's Edge so closely, I'd rather say "Screw those guys!" and move on. But you have to accept that for some people, it was just too much of a shift. There was an intense frustration with the combat, for people that were used to being superhuman. It's not that a gunless run-through is impossible, it's just how it's presented to the player. Guiding a player through a game world with its own rules and methods of play is an art as much as a science.

What a weird day... 2 of the games you point out as deeply flawed Mirror's Edge and Bloodlines are on my top 5 of all times... I didn't really notice any shortcomings in Edge, but I'm no expert so i guess It's forgiven.

Hey, that's okay. I'd rank Mirror's Edge in my top 5 too, even though I think there's plenty wrong with it. I think it's easier to love a game despite its flaws than it is to love a movie or a book. Which is one of the great things about gaming.

EmeraldGreen - Hurrah! A reader! Thanks for keeping up with me, matey. :)

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

Me too. it was new, fresh and exciting. Instead of gunning down your enemies, or using cover and what not. You ran, using agility, and speed...the enviornment. It wasnt well received but it was certainly fun!

I absolutely loved Mirror's Edge. I don't even know why; the flaws in the game were apparent to me and I lost count of the amount of times I threw down my controller in frustration, but I keep going back to it for the sheer thrill of running full pelt across rooftops and through buildings. I agree that the mandatory combat sections were a bit of a downer, but there were sequences that more than made up for it. My favourite section in the whole game is the puzzle building in Kate (before the sniper point). The music changes to a light, airy ambiance and it's just you and 5 half-constructed stories. I hope that the sequel has some sort of ascension mode similar to this, because it would fit the game perfectly.

I humbly disagree with the article. I thoroughly enjoyed Mirror's Edge not only for it's brilliant visual style, but because the difference in gameplay compared to every other FPS out there more than made up for what little shortcomings the game had.

I liked Mirrors edge, but unfortunately the brightly dazzling environments burned my retinas. It was like the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark were his face melts.

Very interested article. I love this game, but I get lost SO easily. I mean, it's not free roaming or anything, but in the scaffolding part before the crane, it took me a good half hour to navigate it. But when it's clear, and you know what you're doing, this game is a masterpiece.

Park Life!

Sorry but why has no-body said that yet?

Also good article.

Absolutely adored the full Mirror's Edge experience despite the guns and clearly intentional slowdowns in the game. When you look at ME you have to understand that the size and scope of the levels you are playing whiz by at a pace unheard of by any FPS games. There is such a depth of design that other development companies just never have to deal with while DICE themselves have been pushing the boundaries of for years (full 360 degrees of map). They had to find a way to slow the player down and keep them from speeding through each level in minutes.

I think what needs to be done in a Mirror's sequel is essentially find more creative, in engine ways to pace players through the game and enhance the story or gameplay at the same time. My first suggestion there is to make a few more boss set pieces like what occurred on the rooftop with Ropeburn. Throw in some scripted moments that require a some specific maneuvers to break up the free run and advance the story and you could have a really strong series. Guns need to be disarm and drop all the time.

Loved the game. Was less impressed with the expansion. But I will sign up for a sequel.

Mirror's Edge is a platformer arcade game.

Taking it as anything other than that is a sign of insanity.

Mirrors Edge is one of a rare group of games. Games that have you fail over and over and yet, at some point, everything goes perfect and fluently. Then BAM, you overstep, fall off a building and the cycle begins again.

The time trials got more annoying every time for me until I put on my music while playing. It became ten times more enjoyable.

I personally enjoyed Mirror's Edge a lot, yes it was flawed but at least it was trying something new.

Also, parklife reference ^_^

"A risky, innovative platformer-cum-shooter. . ."
Y'know, I've never heard of a game that is both a platformer and a cum-shooter.

I do agree with some of the things said in this article and I noticed some new things about it that I didn't know before, but overall I found the game to be one of the most enjoyable I've ever played!
I mean, although I wasn't a big fan of the whole 'jump right, shoot right or die fast' thing, I still think that the game wouldn't have worked without them. If the game was merely a running, parkour game then it would get boring almost immediately because of the lack of surprise. Instead of wondering what was about to happen, it would always be 'Oh. Running again. Yeah, I know."
Haha but that's just my opinion. I loved the game but I really liked the points made in this article too!

Just my opinion, of course, but the problem I had with this game was that its premise was a COMPLETE LIE.

This was meant to be a game based on 'free-running', yet every level had perfectly to-the-very-footstep preconceived paths throughout every level, meaning you constantly had to stop to see where the next objective was. Way to break the flow of a free running experience! If anything Mirror's Edge is a memory puzzle with occasional gunfire.

There was no spontaneity in the movement throughout the levels at all. If you had the objective of "get from point A to point B" and you could use all your skills in the best way you could to find your own way to achieve that goal, then that would have been a true 'free-running' game. But no, you deviate from the pre-set path and you fall to your death. If it were a puzzle game, that would make sense, but when you have guys with machine guns running after you, stopping to look for the next glowy object to grab onto makes for a very stop-start-stop-start infuriatingly fragmented experience.

I appreciate the idea, and it was the hope of more open gameplay that compelled me to take it to the very end. In retrospect, however, I hated it completely.

Mirror's Edge is the most fun I've ever had playing a mediocre game.

Yeah, the story is stupidly bad and if you go into the concept art they talk about how they had plans for a SIGNIFICANTLY MORE INTERESTING story that they apparently decided to throw out completely. Yeah, the levels are often ridiculously linear and the "point me where to go" button is more confusing than helpful. Yeah, there was no reason for the designers to not simply make your objective more clear at points.

But it was still a damn fun game. The action is physically involving, and managed to make me feel like I was thinking about Faith's movements as if they were my own body. The visual style is really, really good looking and a much better example of the "future dystopia" look than a lot of games pull off. The sense of speed and fluidity are just plain fun to experience.

(Honestly, the gunfights didn't bother me. The bad guys feel just like any other obstacle you have to get past. Except, instead of doing chained wallruns and pole swings, you're doing slide kicks and disarms. I thought the combat felt like a pretty natural extension of the running mechanics.)

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