Argh, God damnit you son of a bitch!
Holy shit, that was awesome!
Those are the two main thoughts that were racing through my head throughout every stage of Mirror's Edge. Mirror's Edge is a first person platforming game in the vain of the Prince of Persia series. You are tasked with running across rooftops, corridors, and air ducts, trying to find out who framed your sister for murder.
The game is beautiful, when it wants to be. The city and rooftops all look fantastic when you can see them in the background as you're running. The same goes for the saturated and color filled offices and corridors. However there are many textures in the game that just come off as awkward. You constantly get glimpses of Faith's (the main character) hands as she grabs onto ledges and swings from poles. Every time her hands came into the frame they just looked muddled with dull textures that almost looked like they were from the PS2 era. It's odd because the city is dazzling with color and rich textures, but once her hands came into the scene it looked like you were controlling an 80 year old women with wrinkled old man hands.
I have two main problems with the game. First, I found it hard to figure out the best spot I could grab next, wishing I could just continue my string of jumps and tucks that were getting my adrenaline pumping. A perfect example of what I'm talking about is Sonic the Hedgehog. There are always times in those games where you're zipping along going super fast, only to hit a wall, or some spikes, or a poorly placed enemy. It brings the speed to a halt and you forced to go very slow to jump over the spikes, or jump up a wall, then continue your speed run. I got the same exact feeling from Mirror's Edge. I would be jumping and swinging along having a blast, then I'd hit some weird area where it wasn't obvious where the developer wanted me to go and I had to walk around trying to figure out what I could grab or duck under. It completely ruined the feeling that Faith was a pro at this and with a few button presses she'd be able to run and jump wherever she wanted. There were times in every level where I was brought to a screeching halt, making me urge for a level where I could run and platform for more than 2 minutes without being stopped.
My second complaint about this game is that it always felt the need to force you into combat situations. The combat in Mirror's Edge does work, it's just not as good as most shooting games. This is understandable, after all you are a runner, not a shooter, so it makes sense that you wouldn't be able to aim very well, if thats what they were going for. I mainly have a problem with the combat because it ties back into the first problem. I just wanted levels where I could run for the length of the level and see if I can string together a ton of jumps without falling or missing a ledge. The combat does nothing more than to take you out of that gameplay that makes the game so great.
When the platforming and running segments do shine through, the game is an absolute blast to play. I was getting pretty frustrated at the end of the game from constantly having to break my streak to figure out where to go, but when I got to last section in chapter 8 they really gave me what I was looking for. I won't say anything to spoil it but all you need to know is that you're tasked with getting to the roof of a building. There was no one in my way and for about 25 minutes it was nothing but great platforming, jumping, running, tucking, wall running, and ledge grabbing. That's what I was waiting for! If only the entire game could have been made out of sections like that, I would have liked it a lot more. Those section are what make the game truly special, and accomplish something that hasn't been done before. Being able to platform like that in a first person view was a fantastic experience, I just wish there were more lengthy segments like that last bit.
The story is pretty much non existent, it's told through poorly animated "E-Surance-esque" cutscenes. They really don't make you care about any of the characters and don't do a very good job of fleshing out the plot. The sound in the game is great, the music and ambiance come through very well and really set the tone for the dystopian city you're running in. The sound effects when Faith runs and jumps, and hits a ledge are fantastic. The sound of your heart and breath when you get going really fast can be very exhilarating.
Mirror's Edge: 7.5
Ultimately Mirror's Edge was a fun game, but like the Sonic games, I hated when it broke up my running streaks and left me wondering what I had to grab onto or duck under. I constantly wanted sections where I could run for the entire level without interruption, and they only came towards the very end. The combat was wonky at times and really only bothered me because they broke up the running sections. The reason Mario Galaxy is so good is because it sticks to what it knows, platforming. If Mirror's Edge had just stuck with the running aspects of the game, EA and DICE would have had something amazing on their hands. I'm not trying to sell the game short, there are sections of the game that are unbelievable and very new, they are just buried under other sections filled with wonky combat and frustrating level design.