Mirror's Edge review
Innovation that requires a bit of patience


Parkour seems like a very interesting concept.
The one thing that sold everyone's souls on Mirror's Edge when it was announced - myself included - was the parkour gameplay. Parkour, for those who don't know, is pretty much free running, like doing crazy jumps and stuff across buildings and on walls and stuff, And based on the footage, it looked like a game that ripped other games a new one due to said concept. Upon playing it, I was thinking "eh, it's good". You heard me; it was good. Unfortunately, I didn't think it was that great. The game was hyped up too much - logic would dictate that hype was the reason that I didn't really think it was fapworthy. Well, for once, hype was not the reason for my disappointment. It was actually due to some things that could have been executed better, or could have been brought back to the drawing board. Either way, it was just the game itself, and no outside factors, that kept me from ejaculating all over the screen.

This writing is illegible.
One problem I have with Mirror's Edge is the highly incomprehensible storyline. All I got out of it was that the protagonist (some Eurasion chick named Faith) has to clear her sister's name, as she was framed for the murder of a potential mayor. Everything else afterwards - in fact, everything as a whole - was structured in the same way that a poorly written fanfiction is. The storyline was just a trainwreck from square 1. If you're one to get into storylines, Mirror's Edge will piss you off to no end due to the fact that it's confusing as shit and doesn't really surprise you or enthrall you with any good twists or anything. And hell, even if you don't consider storylines to matter that much in any sort of game that's not an RPG, the storyline will still gnaw at your feet like the plague rat it is, since it's a claustrophobic mess and literally feels like an afterthought. Most of the elements given are barely explored and when they are explored, it's like "who gives a shit!?" due to laughable execution (which sucks because the cutscenes between levels look pretty awesome) and made little sense, if at all. Overall, the story blows, and makes me thank god for the option to skip them.

Tough to learn; tougher to master.
If the lame story doesn't captivate you, it's going to be the gameplay that will. Essentially, it's a platformer in a first person view, but with crazy running speeds and buildings to jump across. On occasion, you'll run into some bad guys, and you have to kick the crap out of them. For a while, it'll seem questionable and confusing, therefore bad. However, after a bit of time, you'll find yourself getting used to it. You'll be performing some sick jumps within the second half hour or so.

Speaking of getting used to things, the controls are definitely strange. Most of the time, you'll be using the bumpers and triggers to jump and fight. For some time, the controls will feel very awkward, but by the time you're halfway through the second level (and that's counting the tutorial and prologue stages), you'll be able to correctly utilize the controls without mucking up.

That said, wouldn't it make more sense to use X or O to jump, rather than L1? The scheme is a bit farfecthed, and surprisingly enough, the face buttons are absolutely useless. For instance, a button to slow down time for a little while? Unless you have the reaction time of a sloth, disarming at normal speed is not that hard. Again, it's just a case of getting used to it. In fact, the only useful face button is triangle, which is used to disarm - and that's pretty damn useful, don't you reckon? It also chucks away a gun you have in your hands, since you can't climb up walls with any sort of gun, or gain any momentum with a heavier gun. I would've loved to see more usage for the face buttons, especially with the PS3 version - this is okay with the 360 since its triggers aren't as small and feel more natural, but the PS3's triggers are a bit awkward to handle.

Back into the gameplay - you'll spend a lot of your time just zooming on top of buildings, inside buildings and what have you, all the while jumping over some pipes, sliding under stuff and ultimately jumping huge gaps between buildings. It's sort of like a "how-to" to parkour, or "parkour for dummies" in a sense, except you don't have cops chasing you (at least, not with high power choppers anyway). Essentially, it's trial and error. If you're into that sort of thing, awesome. Me? Depends. If it's like the daytime stages in Sonic Unleashed, I'll probably snap the disc if I forget to take Ritalin. Thankfully, it's not exactly. Sure, you'll bugger up jumps every now and again, but at least you can learn from your mistake, stop, look, back up, run like you have propellers up your butthole and then jump at the right time. Also, at least there's no quicktime bullcrap with any of the jumps - there is some with the combat, but not with the jumping. However, missing a certain few jumps over and over again gets to be very frustrating, and almost caused me at times to smash a can of energy drink where the speech center of my brain is - not to say that it's every now and again, but it happens a fair few times, so don't think it's all sunshine and farts.

They say it's open-ended; I say it's either DICE's way or the highway!
Mirror's Edge has a disturbing habit of trying to present alternate paths; most of the time, it's because the obvious path is blocked off, but sometimes, there's a second reason to take a different path, for it has something you may want, like a runner bag (collecting certain amounts and then all of them presents you with trophies [PS3] or achievements [360]) or a shortcut. Speaking of shortcuts, 95% of them are obscured by the fact that you just wouldn't think of them. The average gamer wouldn't think of wallclimbing, turning 180 degrees, jump, then rinse, lather and repeat until at the top in the first level, for instance, unless they looked it up on Youtube. A decent amount of fun in this game is finding these shortcuts so that going through these levels take less time - it helps with time trials you unlock after beating the game (obviously, if you beat a certain amount, you get trophies or achievements). In other words, to really get somewhere in a short amount of time, it takes a lot of experimenting with walls and acrobatic stunts.

But in reality, you'll follow a linear path. Like I said, shortcuts are obscure most of the time, and alternate paths are really the main path disguised as an alternate path. Not that this isn't a problem or anything, but I was told that this game was open-ended. Yet here I am, following a SET path that every newbie follows because the damn shortcuts are too damn hard to find! It's nothing too bad in my books, but false advertising does tend to get on my nerves.

Isolate and punch.
Oftentimes, you'll be forced into a bit of combat. Enemy variety is as scarce as water in a desert - you're only fighting two sorts of guys (I know there's a third, but you can't technically fight them as they kick your can and never get knocked out), and all they really do is open fire. Combat ends up feeling a bit repetitious since all you're really doing is isolating a copper (or "blue", as the game calls them) and then punching the ever loving piss out of him. Alternatively, you can disarm his weapon as he's about to smack you with it, and then open fire on him. Either way, victory is satisfying, but not for too long. Later on, combat is more involving, but for a few levels, they're generally the same.

Get away from the chopper!
A fair amount of the time, though, you can't really fight off what's shooting at you. I've mentioned a high powered chopper before, right? I must have forgotten to mention that it's the biggest annoyance this game has to offer. It constantly shoots at you, and every time a bullet hits you, you lose a little momentum, plus you get closer and closer to dying. If it hits you enough, it'll either kill you or bugger up your jump, thereby making gravity kill you. It doesn't make the game any more challenging; it just pisses you off. It's especially annoying when you're playing on the hard difficulty setting, since you take more damage on hard, and a fair few shots will kill you (and let me get off the chopper issue and onto a small detail - hard mode has to be unlocked by beating the game on normal. Seriously, couldn't I just do it the minute I get the game!? Maybe some of us WANT to push our gaming skills more!!)

As white as tighty-whiteys.
Visuals are pretty good for the most part. The character models look like 3D cartoons while also looking a bit realistic and quite detailed. The same could be said about the environments, like when you're inside buildings and on the streets and such, but on buildings, there is a bit of a drop in quality. The buildings - or at least the top of them - are 90% bright white! Dead serious; bright white. The colors for the other stuff is rich, but the white on the rooftops are a freaking joke. There isn't a *bleep* joke out there that could justify why this is so... And unfortunately, it's laughable in a bad way. It left me going "what were they thinking"... Another little itch is that sometimes, the framerate drops a bit, but it's only during the in-game cutscenes, and they're not even that bad, though worth pointing out. Both are minor complaints, especially when stacked up against every other graphical detail that's good.

Now for the animated cutscenes. Friends of mine (among others) have complained about this style. Me; I liked it. The animation was smooth (surprisingly smoother than the game itself) and it looked pretty good, plus the in-game models are not exactly realistic either - they looked more cartoony, which suited the vector style used in the animated, transitional cutscenes. In other words, while they lasted, I liked the look of them (note: look, not the entire thing - the story is lame, remember?).

Whoa that got me pumped... wait, what did that sound like again!?
One thing that got me going throughout the game is the soundtrack. It's usually calm, and it sounds nice. Some good parkour music, though some metal would've helped a bit better while jumping buildings, but the soft, slow and somewhat subtle electronica was nice too. The speed and intensity picks up when you're ambushed or just attacked by coppers. It makes you feel like beating the hell out of them. Just awesome.

And let's start with a little thing they, in the business, call "wasted talent". As I've said a million times, the story was contrived and full of "who cares". So to have voice acting that's pretty damn impressive is like saying "here's some top notch ingredients imported from Belgium at top dollar; now make a turd out of them!" I seriously love the voice acting. It's not at all robotic or overactive; it's just right. It's like with real life, really. Too bad they're just spewing diarrhea since the dialogue sucks monkey butt.

Could it jump from a building into your PS3 collection?
Mirror's Edge is a refreshing change of pace. Instead of a generic first person shooter, somebody over at DICE thought "why not make it... a first person platformer", boss responded with "Jimmy, you done it again!" and, for the most part, pulled it off. I could recommend it to most of the general public with a 360, PS3 or PC; however, I can't really recommend this to anybody who is into storylines or anybody who angers easily (there are a few anger erupting parts out there - not heaps, but a few). Oh well, Mirror's Edge is still a good game; just not that fantastic.

For those who jumped over most of the review:
Story: 3/10
The sort of story that makes you glad that gameplay takes up a lot more of your time, plus you can just skip the cutscenes. It was pretty bad since it made little to no sense and wasn't worth caring for.
Gameplay: 7/10
The concept was excellent on paper. Practically, it was above average at best. A fair bit of questionable bullshit, but the rest was neat at least.
Controls: 7/10
Feels awkward at first, but if you give it time, they'll end up being your best friends as they are pretty tight. That said, it'll take quite a bit of time...
Graphics: 9/10
Not a big fan of the fact that the rooftops are jizz white and the in-game cutscenes are a bit laggy, but everything else - especially the transition scenes - are pretty good, art direction especially.
Sound: 8/10
Combines low quantity, high quality and fairly forgettable to make a good soundtrack to get you going throughout, and that's it. Voice acting is good (yet put to waste since the story was so stupid).
Other: +4
Even though the story was horrible, I can't let it drag down the overall score since it really wasn't that important. Scenes were skippable and again, the gameplay takes up much more of your time. Again, it had questionable moments, but at least it wasn't a trainwreck, bringing the score up from 7 to 7.5.

Overall: 7.5/10

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