By Video_Game_King 82 Comments
Mirror's Edge( Woah, what the crap!?) Where did this come from? And how am I managing to keep all my blogs (somewhat) current? I imagine that you're thinking all of these questions, so let me answer your schizophrenic ramblings: witchcraft. I met these wonderful witches who decided to throw some more modern games at me. I couldn't make sense of it, but your crazy mind should be able to. Anyway, Mirror's Edge. I beat it, and I really wish it was better. I really, really do.
Why do I want to like this game, but not some other that you'll most likely yell at me about in the future, especially if it's that one game? Well, the best I can describe it is that Mirror's Edge is like a modern day Assassin's Creed, only without as much focus on the combat. Don't think that there's no combat in Mirror's Edge, though; it's a first person game, which means it must have shooting in it, so sayeth the laws of gaming. But that doesn't mean it has to give a shit, and boy, does Mirror's Edge not give a shit. For the most part, you only get weapons from enemies, which requires going through the fisticuffs. To its credit, this system has a lot of cool options and moves that you'll never need to perform. The only two moves you'll ever use are "punch to face" and "press Y when the gun is red". I once tried to jump kick a guard, and I'm surprised to say that I could have done it better. Without the crown. But things have to get better when you grab a gun, right? I guess. There isn't a ton of weapon variety (there's a pistol, a heavy gun, several variations on bullet pukers, and that's about it), and once you run out of ammo, our hero Faith just chucks the gun to the side. I imagine she's the type of person who buys a new cell phone whenever the battery runs out. Maybe all that explains why you'll more often haul ass out of any and all combat situations. Keep in mind that I don't necessarily have a problem with any of that. I enjoy purity of gameplay concepts, so it's nice to see that the combat isn't fucking about with the game too much to keep it from focusing on what it really wants to do. Now if only I could focus on this damn blog for a change.
So what exactly does Mirror's Edge want to do? It wants to jump from rooftop to rooftop like a lady Ezio. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself, and that's pretty much why I want to like this game. Remember when I played The Forgotten Sands, and I loved the smooth flowing level design and compared it to Zelda? Well, this is like the Mario version of that. The levels don't really take a lot of figuring out, since they're usually a straight line to some random goal. OK, so there are branching paths you can experiment with, and the levels curve around like they're purposefully trying to get you dizzy, but it's not like this is Prince of Persia meets Oblivion or something. (Somebody want to make that happen?) But I don't need any of that. Why? Because the platforming in this game can be really smooth when it wants to. There are times when it feels like a platforming rhythm game, for lack of better words. What I'm saying is that it feels really good to get the " slide-slide/jump-jump" pattern down right. (Pay attention to my word choice; it's gonna come up later.) Throw in the sense of momentum and....kinda realism?...yea, that'll work. Anyway, add it all together, and why isn't this a good game again? Oh, right: the rest of this blog.
Hey, you know what I didn't talk about in that paragraph? How the game actually handles. There's a reason for that: it's where everything falls apart. Oh god, where do I start? Direction seems like a weird place to begin, so how about that? Wait, didn't I say that this was a completely linear game? I also said that this game has more curves than the disc it comes on, which makes navigating some of these levels pretty annoying. It got so bad that one programmer decided to dedicate one of the buttons to pointing you toward your goal....and it's still hard to get lost But to be fair, the fine people at I'm Too Lazy to Look Up Their Name Inc. did create a solution to this problem in the form of runner vision. How's it work? Well, objects you can interact with in some way are highlighted in red. Just like the rest of the game: good idea, mediocre execution. That may sound like an overreaction, but keep in mind that this was released in 2009, when it wasn't uncommon to see games like this have only two colors. That probably explains why Mirror's Edge is a neon nightmare (a good looking neon nightmare, but still a neon nightmare), which explains why it's so hard to find things that can get you through the level. But even when you do find that certain beam or ledge or whatever, don't expect to get through the level easily or enjoyably or anything like that. Why?
Well, the game doesn't exactly handle too well. Hey, remember what I said about this being a momentum-based game? (Wait, are all the cool things about this game about to bite it in the ass?) Well, that usually means hitting your target can be a tad difficult. Maybe you'll overshoot or your jump, or maybe you won't be able to grab it because you chose to press the skip button instead of the jump button. Oh, and speaking of the jump button: the controls. They're not that good. A lot of the actions in this game require use of a context-sensitive button, which I don't have a problem with. What I do have a problem with is when the button in question is the jump button. I shouldn't have to explain why that's a bad idea. It gets especially bad with wall-running, since Faith will often interpret my commands as "jump straight into the Grim Reaper's loving arms". Then again, wall jumping is already a terrible nightmare. I have absolutely no idea how to do it, and the game never provides a proper explanation. All I know is that it has something to do with walls and the jump button. I believe I've explained how that went over. Now you think that at this point, I'd call it a difficult game, but that's not really the right word for Mirror's Edge. Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is difficult; Mirror's Edge is just frustrating. You'll die a ton, sure (I'd make a Super Meat Boy joke, but I've my reasons for not having played that yet), but it's less because the level design provides a fair challenge (prepare to find yourself yelling about how the crap you're supposed to make that jump) and more because of everything I said in the last two paragr-
OH SHIT! I forgot the story! Bad things happen when I forget the story. Then again, it's not hard to forget the story of Mirror's Edge. Now before I get into this, allow me to yell at everybody else who has covered this. Specifically, the same "what are they delivering that's so important" joke every single goddamn person has made. After having played the game, it doesn't really make any sense. Nobody's really delivering anything (at least not that I remember), and while there are packages, they're hidden bonuses, so I think it's pretty easy to figure out just what's being delivered. OK, we good? Moving on, after getting past a title screen that seems to have forgotten its textures, we find ourselves in what seems to be a random city in China. (At least that's what I got from it.) This random city recently got a new, militaristic regime running things "word for 'now' that begins with the letter R". Somehow, this comes as a shock to the local populace. One such citizen, Faith, responds to this by joining the Runners, a group that jumps across the rooftops and requires that their members get tattoos of doves flying over the ocean just in case the symbolism hasn't beaten you senseless into the ground. Somehow, this leads to Faith stumbling onto a murder case. Now she must figure out who murdered this guy (I should probably mention why that's significant, but I'm running a bit long as it is) while avoiding arrest. There's more to it than that, but I think I got the general picture across. It's not a particularly good story, but it's not offensively bad or anything. It tells itself rather creatively (kinda odd that most of the story is told through cartoons, but whatever, I'll go with it), but it's not something to write six paragraphs about. You know, now that I think about it, that's the best way to describe Mirror's Edge.
- Who isn't up for jumping across rooftops like Altaïr and the Prince collided into each other and somehow made a lady?
- Oh, wait, the controls and level design need work? Might as well go back and remember those sands.
- I had taken my whole life for granted. When it came down to it, I dropped it all and ran away. And I ran, I ran so far away.....
Speaking of things I forgot, how did I not include this in my last blog?
Valis III ( The more I play this series, the more I think I should just give it up and leave it to chickengeorgewashington and YukoAsho.) Why? Well, the original appeal to me was the potential for a pretty cool story about a girl in a metal bikini doing stuff in Kirby World. Turns out that the story pretty much amounts to "hey, we're not done yet! Here's something else because....uh...". It's the exact opposite of Portal 2. That's not to say that the games get crapper with time; in fact, the games actually got better. I started long ago with Valis, a kinda rough platformer starring a dense protagonist who couldn't understand the concept of rain. Then came Valis II, a slightly better platformer with a dumb plot twist. Then there's Syd of Valis, which is Valis II, only far, FAR worse. I think Telenet Japan learned their lesson with that last one, since Valis III is actually a much more decent game. Also, something about it being the best Valis game of them all....so far.
Now unlike the last portion of the blog, I can't stuff the story at the end, since it's the main draw of the Valis series. Kind of an odd design choice, since it's not terribly good, but whatever I'll roll with it. It's quite some time after Valis II, people have forgotten how much Syd of Valis sucks, and the text is still as slow as the mouths are fast. In enters a new villain: GLAMES, a villain so foreboding that his name must always be shouted at all times. His motivation and goals? Get his people out of the Dark World, which is slowly dying and being destroyed. Wait, Yuko has to beat this guy up? What a fucking bitch! I was going to make some jokes about how she gained ten pounds, or how the translation isn't that good, or how Reiko appears again despite having been dead for at least two games, but that kinda spoils the story for me. That's probably why she doesn't show up in the next game: the developers had to come up with a protagonist who wouldn't shove a sword into somebody out of a sense of very confused morality. (But, as we'll see later on, that's the least of Yuko's problems in this game.) The only thing left to enjoy is the anime in this game. An easy task, given that the anime is pretty good and stuff. A lot of the time, it looks crisp and rich enough to appear in a Sega CD game. Wait....well, you know what I mean. It looks good, except for that one time near the end (not gonna link, because I have a slightly better link for later in this paragraph). Better yet, it's the Genesis version, meaning you get all the animation without the shit voice acting. For once, a crap sound chip has actually made the game better!
Then again, it's not like the rest of the game looks like crap or a-OK, let's just get to the gameplay. Like every Valis game that knows to stop at stupid metal bikinis, Valis III is a platformer. You jump through some pretty cool levels, and before I say anything else about the game, yes, these are pretty cool levels. Finally, the Valis series realized that it's in Dreamland and decided to do something about it. Want to fight horned testicle monsters in Kirby world? That's literally just getting started. After that, you get a blatant/boring rip-off of Castlevania (given the things I've heard about Valis, that's just it being honest) and a crappy ice level. That last one works about as well as you'd expect: like trying to play Mirror's Edge with roller skates. However, there is one thing I find pretty cool about it: the slide feature. Wait, didn't previous Valis games have sliding? Hell if I know. This game does, but with one weird twist: it turns gravity off...somehow. I'd say that it's a dream world so who gives a shit, but since one of the more common types of dreams involves falling a great distance or whatever, I'm pretty sure that the developers were just very lazy. Not that I have a problem with that or anything. It seems that some other group of developers noticed this and decided to use it for some cool puzzles.
But what exactly separates this Valis from the other Valises (aside from it being better than them)? Wait, the sliding? I meant to say "the characters." You know, with an S. Then again, you probably guessed that back during the Castlevania link, but I digress. Anyway, multiple characters: of course, you begin as Yuko, who's become the most useless character in the game because of this new feature. Her main attack is a slash that requires five minutes of charging to attack five feet. Compare this to, say, Cham, a girl who surprisingly isn't a monkey, but Simon Belmont. She gets to whip enemies, which may not sound like much, but since her attack doesn't require charging, you can pretend that you're playing Castlevania. Not into that? Why the hell not? Fine, Mr. I Hate Everything Castlevania So I am a Horrible Person, how about Valna? Her attacks require charging, true, but they also have the benefit of reaching all the way across the screen. I'd say that I've proven how useless a character Yuko is, but two things about that. First, she did it herself. Second, each character also has slightly different attacks, so there's actually some strategy as to who gets to come out when. Granted, I never really used it, but the important part is that it's there. So combine that with the two other paragraphs, and you have the one Valis game that you should play out of all the other Valis games. Unless we're counting the crappy hentai ones later on; if that's the case, then I'd recommend those to you, simply because I view you as lab mice in my cruel experiments. So when you're done reading this, go out into the world and tell me if those obscure hentai games are actually as horrible and soul burning as people claim they are.
- I don't know what to call Yuko: an asshole or an alien.
- This game has what I like best about platformers: solid platforming.
- Oh, and character switching. Can't forget the character switching.