Mirror's Edge fans finally get the long awaited Pure Time Trial Map Pack today after enduring one delay.
The DLC is a no brainer for those who already love the game to death. But if you're on a the fence about spending 800 Microsoft Points, then maybe a brief review can help you come to a decision.
Shedding the cityscape, DICE created a series of new environments that look minimalist but feel surreal, successfully fusing two art genres in a virtual setting. You still play as Faith, and the basic mechanics of Time Trial still apply. There are a total of nine maps, and each one bears its own unique flavor, created by subtleties in color, lighting, and block placement.
Color and lighting go hand in hand here to create a deceptively simple obstacle course. While everything has a minimalist look, there is nothing simple about the maps as an experienced eye can tell. Shadow and light manipulate an otherwise bland pallet, warping the bizarre world around Faith with every leap and turn. Don't worry about stopping to admire the view below either because there's no cops around, as if a nuclear holocaust had wiped out every human being (except for our protagonist) and reduced cities to a series of floating blocks and panels, hovering over an expansive sea.
Or you can pretend Faith is still in the city, experiencing a Runner's drug trip.
So the level designs are beautiful, but what about utility? Rest assured that DICE put just as much effort into the practical aspect of these Time Trial stages. You might feel a little overwhelmed by the strange setup at first, so each stage will probably take at least one trial runthrough before you get the hang of things. The pretty colors aren't just for show, however, as they actually act as indicators of where you should be headed, just like the color red in story mode. White patterns similar to Faith's tattoo line various walls and floors to further narrow things down for you.
Because the city has been replaced by blocks and panels, there are various gaps and massive falls (depth perception failure) strewn about, and not watching your momentum might send you tumbling between two blocks and toward the ocean below. As you jump, roll, slide, and sprint through this new world, don't hesitate to pause now and then to look for a new path, because there is almost always more than one way out.
The list of maps is as follows:
Chroma is primarily white and bright red, with the occasional turquoise platform and numerous glass panels. With plenty of open space, this is a good starting map.
Flow is a white and magenta setting, filled with sloped blocks. You'll need to use these slopes to get from point A to B, timing your jumps before you go sliding into the water.
Razzmatazz is yellow and white, with its numerous blocks hinged together like armatures to create lots of ramps and odd angles. Curved pathways are seperated by these hinges, and the angles might break your free-flowing groove during your first runthrough.
Velocity is also a bright red and white scheme, with yellow platforms breaking the monotony. A lot of the blocks here are rectangular in shape and come in pairs, giving you plenty of space to run or roll without fear of falling.
Kinetic is yellow and white, but the lighting gives these blocks a bluish tint, rendering the blocks a yellow-green at times. Unlike Velocity, the blocks in this map are mostly cubes, meaning less space to move and less room for error.
Acinto is another red and white map. The blocks here are more like pillars, and in the distance you can see clusters of these columns like floating cities. You're restricted to just one, though, navigating through enclosed spaces to reach the center "skyscraper." With the blocks all bunched up, there's less holes to accidentally fall through -- definitely my favorite map.
Acinto Rise continues after Acinto, placing you at the base of the big red pillar. White blocks cling to its four facets, and you must navigate your way upward to the top. The trek is riddled with sharp turns and angles, and sometimes jumps require you to go around corners, hindering your view. The end of this run comes with an amazing finale.
Reflex comes with a variety of colors, with yellow and white blocks and pink-tinted glass. Perhaps the most interesting map in the bundle. In addition to its elongated blocks, there are sheets of glass everywhere, and all these platforms are scattered in a seemingly haphazard manner like stepping stones in limbo. There's still lots of room to run, but trying to plan your next step can get pretty frustrating as you look around, searching for a lifeline. As with the other maps, there is usually more than one way, and if you think you've come to a dead end, just turn around (or leap off and start again).
Reflex Redux uses the same map as Reflex but takes you through a different area. The checkpoints are placed in different locations, so you'll be using a different path in Redux.
As I stated in my Mirror's Edge review, published in November shortly before launch, the game is an acquired taste and is best completed in intervals. Definitely not a good candidate for a gaming marathon. The new Time Trial pack, on the other hand, is not quite so taxing even if you found yourself stumbling through the story mode and existing Time Trial maps; in other words, you don't need to be a master Runner to have fun with the new maps.
At $10.00 (that's 800 MS points), is a pretty good buy if you already like Time Trial mode. There's plenty of fresh eye candy, and I guarantee you'll be going through each map more than once if only to admire them. But if you're not a fan of timed runs and would rather just stick with story mode, then you're probably better off saving those Points.