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Mirror's Edge: A Leap of Faith

| 10 Mar 2010 15:48
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Mirror's Edge was a bold and innovative experiment for EA, DICE, and gaming as a whole. Unfortunately, that doesn't always make something good.

When Mirror's Edge was revealed in summer 2007, you could all but hear the games industry's collective "oooh." A first-person parkour platformer based around "flight, not fight"? A brilliantly stark aesthetic amidst a sea of brown and gunmetal gray? It looked brilliantly original - and when it came out, we found that indeed, it was. But as Michael Cook writes in Issue 244 of The Escapist, we found that it was also a deeply flawed game:

The city that you sprint across is a surreal vision of the future, with architecture by Mondrian and society by Orwell. "Stark" is the watchword throughout - stark, but not bleak. The environment was designed with intentional bursts of color, but the palette has pure white at its core, and the UI follows this minimalist tendency as well - there isn't really one. A single dot sits in the middle of the screen to orient you while you're running, leaping and rolling through the city; besides that the screen is filled only with your motion. There is a singular vision at work here, and it's worn proudly on the game's chest.

But for all of Mirror's Edge's unique ideas and vibrant atmosphere, it was deeply flawed. Perhaps the game's most enduring black mark is its combat. Though the game's marketing emphasized the "flight, not fight" aspect of its free-running in the run up to its launch, there are a lot of men with guns. Sometimes it's handled elegantly: A particularly beautiful piece of level design in the last mission has you fend off several of the toughest soldiers in the game with nothing more than a few kicks, for instance. 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. Mirror's Edge only works when it's being Mirror's Edge, and many gamers felt understandably let down when it forced them to play something else.

To read more about why DICE's leap of faith fell just short of greatness, check out "Stumbling Through Mirror's Edge" in Issue 244 of The Escapist.

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