by Chris Scott
reviewed on X360
Every now and then something comes along that truly innovates on tried and true mechanics making for something truly special. Mirror’s Edge does that. It takes the trappings of the first-person shooter genre and melds them with the gameplay mechanics of the platforming genre creating something that is innovative, invigorating and downright blast to play.
The life of a rooftop courier
Gamers play as Faith, who is one of several rooftop couriers, called runners, who transport sensitive information outside the grid of the government to customers who are willing to pay for their services. You won’t be doing a whole lot of deliveries in Mirror’s Edge though because the game will have you trying to solve a mystery that is, at least most of the time, intriguing. Ultimately the story is just the glue that holds the impressive gameplay together.
Mirror’s Edge is best described as a first-person action game. Most of the action can be described as parkour, or the art of movement. Parkour is an exercise in moving as efficiently as possible to traverse the surrounding environment. Mirror’s Edge takes this discipline and replicates it quite well in a first-person environment. Much like real parkour, the game controls as efficiently as possible. Complicated movements are pulled off with a quick series of button presses. There is one button for up movements, jumping, hurdling, climbing, etc. and another button for down movements, crouching and sliding, amongst other things.
The primary gameplay is developed around the parkour aspects and running but there are some fighting sequences as well. These are where many people will throw up their hands in frustration because the combat in Mirror’s Edge is not easy. The game never gives you a gun and thus forces you, if you choose to engage in combat, to resort to hand-to-hand combat and most times you are at a distinct disadvantage. The reasoning behind all this is that in most cases the game doesn’t actually want you to engage in combat. Some will be turned off by this because presented with enemies the natural instinct is to stand and fight them. But if you can fight that urge, instead of the enemies, you will find that attempting to evade the enemies is just as much of a puzzle to be solved as finding the best path to traverse the landscape.
Difficult but exhilarating
Mirror’s Edge is a hard game and you will die quite a lot. But the difficulty is also where Mirror’s Edge excels. Unlike some games where you get stuck and end up not being able to advance without doing something that generally does not make much sense, Mirror’s Edge always has the answer within reach and, while it may not be obvious initially, it is always logical. Much like Portal gave you a huge sense of accomplishment after figuring out a puzzle, Mirror’s Edge does the same thing except it all seems a little more exhilarating due to the fact that you are almost always running from or chasing something.
While the gameplay is fun and exciting in its own right, it is all brought together by the beautiful art style and fantastic sound effects. There is a definitive art style that really works for the game. The world is filled with Spartan whites and colourful reds, yellows and blues and it all really works to help create the world that DICE has envisioned. Mirror’s Edge is not the best looking title on the market but it does look good and, even better, being as the game is so focused on the sense of speed, it runs silky smoothly. The game also sounds fantastic, and especially the sound effects stand out really well. Height is a real focus in the game and the sound effects really drive this point home, between the swoosh you hear as you jump from rooftop to rooftop or just the ambient wind noise you’ll hear while standing on top of one of these skyscrapers. It all ties together to create a believable world that you want to explore.
Well worth the price
In the end Mirror’s Edge takes some familiar things and makes it something fresh and innovative. DICE really took a risk in making this game and while it probably won’t be a game for everyone, it should be celebrated for what it is. Hopefully Mirror’s Edge will encourage other developers to take some risks and give gamers something new to play.
No Pros and Cons at this time