Review by The Purple Pantywaist
Run, Faith, run
Mirror's Edge is a innovative promising mixture of first person jump'n'run, fps und first person what-ever-Tomb-Raider-is. Not all of these promises were kept. However, do not be disheartened, it is not a bad game.
Visual presentation 7/10
On the one hand, what is there on graphics is very nicely done. Smooth animation, everything is clearly visible, clear views etc. In a few occasion you have a wonderful view over the city or the ocean. On the other hand, everything looks rather sterile (that might be intended, see "story" below) and boring: You are mostly on rooftops, within warehouses or offices. And they all look the same. The colouring of the world of Mirror's Edge is matter of taste: Almost everything is either white, red or green. And if something is colored, a whole area and everything in it is colored e.g. blue. What disturbs me most about the visuals are the scenes between levels, which try to tell what there is of a story: They are done in some kind of cel-shaded cartoonish graphics, while the rest of the game has a very realistic tone to it. In one instance you even switch directly from realistic ingame fighting to such a cartoon. That is very unfitting and gives the whole game and especially the story an almost ridiculous feeling.
Stuff you hear 7/10
Nothing special here. I have forgotten the music already (although my game came with a music CD), so it was neither especially good or bad. Sound effects are rather basic, running, jumping, falling, panting, etc; ok as well. I could only get the German version and the Germain voice acting was mediocre at best (but still way better than most other translated games), so get an English version, if you can!
Story, characters, setting 3/10
So there is this nameless city, which is not so great anymore as it was before. And there are these runners in it, who run and carry briefcases. That is about the setting. It is vaguely hinted, that the city has some kind of generic Brave New World/1984/surveillance society background, but no further details are given. The runners are all rather sporty, have clients, and they operate somehow outside the law, no further information about them.
You, dear player, get to be runner Faith. But instead of going about her daily runner business - whatever that might be - you have to clear your sister of a false accusation. Your twin sister is a cop by the way. And how do you help her? You run from place to place on the rooftops - although there are streets, cars and even an underground system - and talk to people or beat them up. In the process you kill a lot of cops (sometimes, you can evade them or just beat them up). Granted, most of the cops shoot at you, but you are a - whatever the crime may be - wanted felon on the run (pun intended) and you are a copkiller. If my siblings ever help me, I hope they do not kill too many of my workmates while doing so.
Only about half a dozen characters are there in the game, besides numberless, nameless cops for you to evade, shoot or shove off rooftops. There even is a plottwist. And by Faith' running shoes, one of the most foreseeable I have seen in a long time. In short, there is not much story, and what is there is not good. At least the ending is not that bad.
Controls, Gameplay 7/10
Ok, enough whining about the story, good games are about gameplay. Main character Faith can basically run, jump and hold on to ledges, ropes, ladders, flagpoles etc. She can even run on vertical walls for a very short time.(Standard key) Q is for turning around. That is needed e.g. when you are running up a wall and want to jump off in the opposite direction. As running, turning, jumping has to be done in very quick succession it might take some time to get accustomed but it works. Overall, controls work rather fine, only wall running and some of the combinations which can be executed while doing so could have used a little more sophistication, but it does not disturb the game.
A big part in this game is really about running. You run along roof tops, jump from roof to roof, leap over fences etc. That is definitely the best part. It gives you really a feeling of (running) speed, somehow even of freedom. To varying degrees the game provides you with hints where to go, if not you sometimes have to stop or go back, sometimes you have several ways to reach your goal. Sometimes cops chase you (you can not kill all of them, you know).Another part is climbing, that is why I mentioned Tomb Raider before: You hold on to ledges, pipes, etc and have to look, where to jump or climb next. That was not so much fun in my opinion.
Obviously the game's creators thought, just running and climbing is not enough for a great game, and they introduced fighting. Of course against policemen, besides the mid-bosses all opponents are policemen, but not all are from the same cop- company as Faith' sister is. Sometimes the game offers you a choice, often you can just run by cops and do not have to fight them. But in many instances, you would have to climb some ladder or something to get away, so the cops would just shoot you. The most efficient tactic is to jump on cops from great heights, that kills them instantly. If that is not possible - which it is more often than not - you have to resort to kicks, punches and disarming techniques. They all do not work very well and feel rather forced. You cannot even resort to a hit-and-run tactic - which would have been most plausible, since your are a runner after all: When you hit a cop, you somehow lock on to him and start to circle him. Before you find out, what's going on, your dead. Best tactic is therefore, to subdue one isolated cop, take his gun, shoot the others and if you run out of ammo, take the gun of one of the cops you shot. This whole fighting thing does not work well, is no fun and does not fit into the rest of the game.
Gamelength, replayability 7/10
The game has several difficulties, in the highest one the game provides you with hardly any directions. There are hidden suitcases you can collect. You can try to beat your track records or compare them over the 'net. There are even special courses just for running you can unlock, so besides the storyline the game concentrates more on what could have made it great. You can download further tracks, if you are willing to pay for them. While the storyline is very short, basically because there is not much story and because the game gets repetitive very fast, the other content makes up for that.
In a nutshell 7/10
Nobody is playing that game for its story. The feeling of speed, of running is conveyed not as good as promised, but is still there and still very good. The climbing parts are a matter of taste, fighting should have been done completely different - or omitted - in my opinion. The additional content makes up for some of the shortcomings of story mode. It is by no means a bad game. Overall it is a good, innovative game, which could have been better: 7/10
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Mirror's Edge (EU, 01/16/09)
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