Mirror's Edge - Review

Mirror's Edge, Xbox 360 - £27.99 delivered
Mirror's Edge, PS3 - £27.99 delivered
Mirror's Edge, PC - £21.99 delivered

Review by LewieP

What on earth are DICE doing wasting their time with the Battlefield series?

They have just created a stunning, incredibly forward thinking platformer that pushes the boundaries of what a first person game was thought to be.

DICE's single greatest success is having made a game where you actually feel like you are in control of a human being. The rules are all firmly based on reality, no superhuman athleticism here. The controls are tight and responsive, and you are always directly in control, and always fast. Very quickly you understand your characters limitations, and how to push them.

You can see, hear and feel Faith's every breath.

The pacing of the story mode is spot on. The action constantly moves at an utterly relentless speed, with brilliant set pieces strung together in a way that would make Valve jealous. But it almost never deviates from the core gameplay mechanic, just builds on it. It may not be long, but it wastes very little of your time, is a joy to be in control of, and always challenging.

Now, Mirror's Edge is a very intelligent platformer, but you will have to work for it. You will die many times in Mirror's Edge, and it's easy to find it frustrating. Some of the checkpoints seem a bit on the sparse side, and the level design can often punish you for being curious. I don't know to what degree this is by design, but for me, if any game would benefit from ripping off the Prince of Persia rewind, it would be Mirror's Edge.

That said, when you do finally overcome those moments of frustration, you really do feel like you have achieved something.

The combat is a downside.

It is not a game about the combat.

My biggest problem with the combat is that it detracts from the game somewhat. It is good to have the option to kill/KO all the enemies. It is also good that it is often the best option to avoid combat at all. It is bad that there are points at which you are forced to use the combat, or 'break' the AI to avoid combat.

It is also bad that there's a point where you are forced to use a gun. It killed the mood of the game for me, and is almost unforgivable.

I applaud DICE for making combat ancillary to the core gameplay, a very brave move, but I still think they slightly mishandled it.

That said, once I realised that I could pick up dropped weapons whilst sliding, I slung together some incredibly badass combat sequences.

I am completely sucked into the time trials. Once I have worked out how to 3 Star (A 'perfect' run) a level, I spend ages trying to actually do it. Mastering a level, and earning the 3 Star ranking is one of the single most rewarding moments of gaming I have ever had.

Mirror's Edge has a classy, bright and beautiful visual design that gives it an identity entirely of it's own. You could not mistake it for any other game on the market, which is always nice. It manages to turn fairly mundane locations like "office block" into gorgeous urban playgrounds bursting with colour and charm. Blue skies present and correct.

Also, smashing open the doors feels incredible. There should be a level that is just a long straight corridor filled with red door after red door, for a mile or so (maybe in the DLC).

There are a few annoyances that I wish they had worked on. Having a check point immediately before a cut-scene, or a door with a very slowly turning wheel to open it is poor form (although I suspect it is to mask loading times in some cases).

The quirks of the Unreal 3.0 engine are out in full force. Texture pop up, and lifts from the same supplier used for Mass Effect. There is also an odd glitch where when you respawn, world objects like dropped weapons that were stationary appear to drop vertically into the level. Hardly detracts from the game, but it's a bit sloppy, and worth mentioning. I also noticed a typo error in the Subtitles, what's with that?

The time trials are fantastic, but it would have benefited from at the very least a screenshot (video would be even better) preview of each level on the selection screen. As it is, you have to remember them by name, and if you can't remember the name of a particular level, you have to guess, and load each one up until you find it. It's sloppy, and some of the names are really not that distinctive.

Also - a weird glitch that is present on the 360 version, not sure about other platforms. In the time trials, if you are on a level with glass windows, when you start a run, they are all intact. If you go and smash them all, then restart, they will remain smashed. Abusing this can save time too.

The story is not all that great. The dialogue is not quite mature enough to do the setting justice, and it is the first game I have played where the animated cut scenes look markedly worse than in game footage. I really don't know why they decided to ever take the player out of Faith's perspective. The game's insistance on using uber-cool slang like "Blues" (police officers) and "Bird" (Helicopter) gets pretty annoying. Just ignore the story and play the damn game.

Mirror's Edge is a very important game. DICE have raised the bar for First-Person games as a whole. I want to see all games have this level of physical immersion. No excuses now.

A triumph of interface, immersion and level design. Incredibly human. A must play.

Discuss it in the forums.

Mirror's Edge, Xbox 360 - £27.99 delivered
Mirror's Edge, PS3 - £27.99 delivered
Mirror's Edge, PC - £21.99 delivered


Anonymous said...

Hell yeah. Agree 100%.

It's got flaws like any game that is unlike anything before it has. If you want polished perfection pick something with at least a 4 in the title. If you want something unlike anything you've played before get this.


Anonymous said...

Best multiplayer going at the moment IMO

LewieP said...

The thing is though, there are literally dozens of multiplayer military FPS games that play pretty similarly to Bad Company.

Mirror's Edge is like nothing else out there.

Joe said...

Certainly it seems interesting, but it's from Ea who I am boycotting at the moment.

LewieP said...

I'm entirely for not giving a company money when they are doing bad things, but the only thing boycotting Mirror's Edge will achieve is convincing EA that it is not worth taking risks on games.

Mirror's Edge entered the multiformat chart at number 20, it's now at 28.

At the same time, this year's Need For Speed and FIFA games have been in the top 5.