Game Review: Mirror’s Edge (PS3 And XBox 360)

mirrorsboxHighly anticipated. Hyped as revolutionary.

Is Mirror’s Edge everything we’ve been led to believe, or is it a disappointment?

Find out inside.

In the near future, the people have given up their privacy and freedom for a more secure world. Email, telephone conversations… everything is monitored. The police have become private armies, and corporations make the rules.

The only way to pass private messages or goods are through ‘runners’. Acrobatic freerunners that hand deliver secret messages and data.

You are Faith, a runner returning to work after a disastrous fall from a rooftop. Your sister (a cop) has just been framed for murder, and you’ve taken it upon yourself to clear her name.

That’s the setup for Mirror’s Edge, and while the story isn’t terribly original, the characterization and voice performances are top notch.

But storylines aren’t why you read game reviews, is it?

You spend a large percentage of your time on rooftops, and leaping between buildings. ME does a great job graphically, and with physics, of putting you in the environment. If you’re squeamish about heights, you’re definitely going to have some vertigo inducing moments. I certainly did.

The first person perspective is unlike most other games, with a semi-floating camera angle that more accurately conveys the feeling of actually looking through a real person’s eyes. A small dot in the middle of the screen acts as a kind of ‘crosshair’, and goes a long ways towards alleviating any motion sickness (seriously, if you turn it off in the options you’ll immediately notice a difference).

When you’re not outdoors, and insanely high in the air, you’ll be traversing office spaces, warehouses, and shopping malls. Textures are frequently repeated, and are rather bland, making these sections less than spectacular visually, but the level design is top-notch, so you really won’t notice.

A typical level will have you starting on a rooftop, racing and leaping to reach an entry point to a nearby building. Once inside a building you will navigate through air ducts, ceiling panels, and scaffolding to a designated mission point. Here a new element of the story will be revealed, and the police will show up. You’ll then race out of the building to a ‘safe point’, avoiding cops and deadly falls.

Combat is an option, but is not generally suggested. Hand to hand fighting generally works well, with a ‘bullet time’ option. You can disarm an enemy and use their weapon, and while the aiming mechanic works well, carrying a gun slows you down and makes some leaping and grabbing movements impossible.

If you’re going to use a gun, shoot it and drop it. It just works better.

Although the flow of each chapter is similar, it never really gets old. What DOES get old is spending 30 minutes trying to make a single jump and dying… and dying… and dying.

You WILL die a lot.

The game is heavily reliant on trial and error gameplay, and this can lead to some SEVERE frustration. I found myself stuck a few times, and telling myself ‘when I play this the second time, I’ll be able to get through this quickly’.

Yes, even with the repetition to get things right, and a fair amount of frustration, I intend to play through the game again… a few times.

After finishing the story mode, you also have ‘speed run’ and ‘time trial’ modes to fill out the experience. It’s like First Person racing… with people shooting at you. I like that.

Mirror’s Edge is breathtaking at it’s best, innovative at every turn, and dishearteningly difficult at moments.

Essentially, if you go into this game understanding that you ARE going to die a LOT, and this is not a first person shooter, you’re going to get a lot out of this game.

If you are looking for a run and gun FPS, and you’re expecting to smoothly move through levels without incident or restarting from a checkpoint, you’re going to be VERY disappointed.

If you read the above warnings, and you’re still interested…

MATT SAYS: BUY IT

PS: The subway train section is one of the craziest things I’ve had to do in a video game in a long time… it’s almost worth the price of admission alone.

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