Saving the day by hauling ass
There's the cult hit that was widely praised, near universally adored and yet at the same time failed to find much of an audience with many proclaiming as a gaming injustice. A game so amazingly awesome and yet sold so poorly is a sure travesty. Which unfortunately what Mirror's Edge is not, although you'd be a little taken back by the huge following the game received since it came out. Known for doing realistic large-scale shooters, DICE delivered a first-person action adventure platforming...thingy with emphasis more on navigating the environment which happens to be stylistically colored in striking ways and yet devoid of color in others. But while on the surface, Mirror's Edge looks like it'll entertain, it's a game where you're going to have to forgive its faults in order to do so.
<Cue movie trailer voice> In a world where freedom is no longer in your control, and information is regulated, one woman shall rise up and uncover a conspiracy and you get the idea. You play as Faith, a so-called "runner" whose job it is is to run through rooftops, hallways and ventilation shafts carrying bags containing information vital to the anti-government groups. But when her sister Kate is framed for murder and a clue is left behind, Faith crawls, hops and wall-runs around the city uncovering what exactly "Icarus" is, who's behind it and rescuing Kate.
The story is...serviceable to say the least. While it's absolutely wonderful to see a non-bimbo scantily-clad female role spouting one liners and "girl power" quips, Faith is a strong, capable and a genuinely relatable female and enters such high regards as Cate Archer (No One Lives Forever) and Alyx (Half-Life). However the story surrounding her is not exactly the most intriguing, plot twists can hit with the megaton force of a foam ball and the bizarre animation style for its cutscenes doesn't do it any favors either.
Gameplay serves around getting Faith from point A to point B but the idea is how you get there is entirely up to you which is not entirely accurate. While there is many pseudo-"Sandbox" areas where you can use whatever you feel like, many others almost force you to go certain areas and the ways off-the-beaten-path aren't so different compared to the official path. Eventually you'll start to recognize the patterns as you get familiar with the controls, certain jumps she'll catch with her hands or arms, certain walls can't be scaled and your B-button, acting as a "go this way" indicator, can often lead you in dead ends.
Even when you're trying to do either path it can get frustrating since jumps that should've been landed and up just barely missing, being a little off causes Faith to fall to the ground (or her death) and getting used to that bone-crunching sound as you fall from a high height will take a lot of willpower. However when the controls and navigation run smoothly, this game is incredibly fun and even exhilarating. Wall-running, bouncing off clearly a guard rail, smashing through 2 doors, hoping to another ledge, rolling then sliding under obstacles makes for some very intense moments and it's here where Mirror's Edge does its entertaining. It's just when things go wrong and retry after retry occurs does the game lose steam.
Then you have the combat though the game makes it a compelling case to go lack thereof. Occasionally you'll run into police officers with pistols, shotguns and sniper rifles and you can decide to flee, knock them out or disarm them and use their guns against your enemies. Not that you'd want to do any combat at all since it's incredibly clumsy although guns have that trademark Battlefield power but it's not like you have the rounds to go Rambo on anyone.
One thing I do got to praise the game for is its presentation. Now, I'm not sure why but even with V-sync on, my PC version off of Steam had massive amounts of screen tearing but even then, colors were vibrant, textures were solid and the action was ever as frenetic as it should be. Also great is the score, opting for an almost ambient/new-age vibe then getting more dramatic when chase scenes start. Voice acting is also surprisingly not horrific and helps give the game at least a little weight.
When I hear people talking about Mirror's Edge and their want for a sequel, for some reason I always get the feeling people look back on it with nary a fault in their memories of it. Granted the game did release at a bad time: the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, the mega-hit Gears of War 2, the ever-popular Left 4 Dead and of course, the juggernaut that is Call of Duty, sales were pretty slow. But like most first entries, Mirror's Edge has the making to become a really great and unique franchise but many criticisms will have to be taken into account to make its sequel even better. As it stands though, this game is really good when it's not being really irritating.