wess's Mirror's Edge (Xbox 360) review

An ambitious leap, cut short by too many dudes with guns.

Mirror's Edge took a concept that had been used extensively, and excellently, in a 3rd person perspective and said "You know what, we're going to do this from a 1st person view."  Pat on the back for trying, DICE.  The acrobatic parkour genre of platforming is something I'm a fan of, and I do think there is a lot to be gained from doing that in 1st person, I just think the people behind Mirror's Edge got a little confused.

Some things that work really well are things that are naturally gained from the 1st person perspective.  The most immediately noticeable is the feeling that you actually are doing all of these crazy stunts, instead of watching somebody do them, and that is very effective.  I also felt a more real sense of danger and intensity, since your vision is more constricted, and things become less clear as you quickly run, slide, leap, turn, climb all over the place.

Where this game falls short is in a few areas that shouldn't have really been a problem at all, the main one being how much friggin' combat they force you into.  I don't really even mind the basics of the combat in Mirror's Edge, it's the situations that you are put into that really made my rage build.  The game is supposed to be about acrobatics, and how you are this agile, quick character, but you can't take a punch well at all (much less a bullet).  Sure, Faith has a few karate moves at her disposal, but that only helps when there's one enemy with a shotgun, not so much when there are five.  The combat sequences that are of the appropriate challenge and in an interesting environment work really well, and add a lot to the experience by helping to break up the acrobatics portions, but the battles that don't work well just made me want to take out the disc, break it into twenty pieces, and go force feed it to the Hollywood Video dude I rented it from.

There are also some acrobatic "puzzles" if you want to call them that.  They are really just parts of the game where you have no idea where to go or how to get there, which mainly results in a good 30 minutes to an hour of frustration.

The story of Mirror's Edge is also fairly unremarkable, but unlike it's other problems, it doesn't take anything away from the experience, it just doesn't add anything either.  The game is also not terribly long, around 10 hours, give or take the amount of time you spend smacking the controller across your face.

Despite all the problems, I'm going to say that I actually do hope they go for a Mirror's Edge 2, or maybe a "spiritual successor" of some kind.  It's a new twist on an old genre that could really be refined into something unlike anything else out there.

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