Review by SoheiFox
Style over Substance or; How to Make a Bad Game out of a Stupid Trend!
I came into this game hearing mixed reviews, some loved it, others thought it was garbage. Let's break it down
Graphics: This looked really good at first.. but then it quickly became clear that there was no depth involved. This is, unfortunately, a recurring theme with Mirror's Edge in general. When I first entered the game, it looked GORGEOUS. Bright, vibrant, busy. Then the camera stopped spinning around the level and I got up close. I will give points where due. You can see Faith's arms and legs and parts of her body, adding to the realism. Well, if Faith had a giant head with her eyes offset somewhere high on her forehead, but I digress. A for effort there. The animations of movements... gorgeous. Felt very "real" as well, the reactions Faith's body has to impacts and whatnot. Celeste, while a rather ugly person, was a very well DETAILED ugly person.
Now, the problems: every area you go into is themed in a child's playroom color scheme: that being almost everything is one color. And it gets stupid. In blue areas, even the TREES are blue. In white areas, even the electric boxes are white. I've read that this is a clean, hightech future, and that's supposed to be the reason why. I don't buy it. It looks more like someone came along with a can of spray paint and vandalized everything. It's not a stylistic decision so much as a lazy design choice. I'm betting if an SDK is ever released we'll find objects are not textured much at all; and you choose "tints" for entire areas. That was okay for 3D Commodore games when the technology was new and difficult to make. However, I looked at my calendar and noticed it was 2009, so it's not acceptable anymore.
Audio: Unobtrusive, forgettable. Pretty heavily techno-influenced, which considering the obvious Matrix influence; fits well. Accents the tension well.. but nothing I'll remember years from now. Strictly average. Neither helps nor hurts the game.
Gameplay: This was GREAT for the first 20 minutes. Simple, exciting, and it FELT like it was versatile. Slight problem with the tutorial, in that if you missed something you had to watch the ugly blonde girl do it all again. Kinda stupid, because watching what SHE does not help YOU do it in any way. The controls, once mastered, become second nature. The game began! Things happened, and I found myself running like crazy. It was exciting.... until I missed a jump. Then had to go back and do it over again. And again. Once you got the moves lined up for a level, you can go through it really looking stylish. It looks awesome when you see someone who knows the game inside and out play it. Except therein lies the problem. Unless you know a level inside and out.. you're going to die. A lot. For no reason other then not knowing where to go next. There's a button you can press that shows you where to go next but.. frankly.. it should have just been an arrow that was always there.
Then the next level began! And.. I was... running like crazy, looking good.. until I missed a jump. And again. Next level! Same thing. Next level! Same thing. I got to take a pipe from some wrestler guy. Oh yeah, about that, there's something vaguely resembling combat in the game. I won't bother talking about it because there's no reason to do it. Ever. At all. Not even once, except the aforementioned scripted bit with the wrestler. You have the choice of killing people or not killing them but really neither choice is the correct answer. If you ever do anything other then run like crazy doing insane stunts, you're wasting time and risking losing. The game play looked REALLY fun at first.. but it's.. shallow. There's nothing to actually DO except platform jumping.
Storyline: There is one. The cinematic that explain the storyline are 2D and bland, like those insurance commercials with the animated special agent. The characters IN the cinemas are like the cinemas themselves. Two dimensional and bland. The game hints at a bigger world but... honestly.. it's VERY halfhearted. Politics, your sister is a cop who got framed.. the game itself doesn't seem to care about any of it, why should you? To further show you how unimportant the storyline is: the radio and TV bits in game that are supposed to draw you in? Don't have subtitles. So if you're hearing impaired you can't tell what they're saying. Turns out they aren't saying much anyway, but still. Things like this show the developers don't care about their storyline, they just wanted an excuse to get more rooftop Parkour going.
The problem is.. this game is just a 3D version of the old puzzler platformers from the long lost days of gaming. Video games were new, about trying new things, so platformers with no substance beyond tricky jumps were acceptable. It was even kind of fun, at first, to see if you had the patience and dedication to beat those games. I got sick of those games, however, by 1985. My calendar, I noticed, still says 2009.
Matrix Influences: Yes, that's right, this game gets it's own special category for that. I want you to imagine that you're in the Matrix, and you know it, but you're still just a human jacked in with no ability to change anything. That's Mirror's Edge! You KNOW you're in a video game! From cops that appear out of nowhere, to helicopters that go places choppers actually CANNOT, to the fact that nothing you do actually changes anything at all... it's the Matrix without any Matrix powers! Worse, it's not even a complete Matrix. Once I got around a line of cops coming down some stairs.. I went UP said stairs.. and up there was... untextured stuff that fades away and an arbitrary line of white I can't pass. This was beginning to feel like some child's Matrix Mod for Half-Life 2 with Parkour attached.
Then I saw the concept art. Gosh. Lieutenant Miller is a white version of Laurence Fishburne. Seriously, he is. If you painted Fishburne white and gave him hair, you'd have Miller's original render. Merc looked like Tank, only white and bald! Faith was originally not going to be the heroine, a chick that looked like Trinity was! And Jacknife? You guessed it, identical to Keanu Reeves; only with long hair. This is actually pretty pathetic, when you add it all up. I actually had to willfully NOT think of this all or else I wouldn't have been able to give this game a fair chance to stand on it's own merits.
Positive about the game though is.. well.. it runs well. Almost no slowdown even on a lower end box. And I have to stress the fact that the music is unobtrusive and forgettable. Considering the rest of this game, that's quite an achievement for these designers, to be neither good NOR bad at something. The technical mastery of this game and how well optimized it is, when compared to other console ports of the day, is what bumped this up from a 4 to a 6. Unlike, say, Rockstar and THQ, they actually made an effort to port this game and port it WELL.
What I learned from Mirror's Edge: (though I already knew this) Parkour is not going to help you when there's people after you. You'll die trying it. Parkour does not make a complete video game, either.
Don't waste your time.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Mirror's Edge (US, 01/12/09)
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