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Mirror's Edge (Xbox 360) artwork

Mirror's Edge (Xbox 360) review

"Background/story: Mirror’s Edge is set in an unnamed near future city, where all forms of communication are monitored by the local government. The only way to get messages through unchecked is through Runners, parcour practitioners who run through the city sky line in order to deliver information. You play as Faith, one of these runners, who early on in the game exposes a political conspiracy and is on a journey to expose the truth and her sister for being tried for murder. "

Background/story: Mirror’s Edge is set in an unnamed near future city, where all forms of communication are monitored by the local government. The only way to get messages through unchecked is through Runners, parcour practitioners who run through the city sky line in order to deliver information. You play as Faith, one of these runners, who early on in the game exposes a political conspiracy and is on a journey to expose the truth and her sister for being tried for murder.

Aside from the occasional in game cut scene, the vast majority of the story is delivered through poorly made Flash quality cartoons, which are very disjointed in relativity to the rest of the game. The story itself is bland and predictable, so huge revelations near the end are almost as shocking as *that* twist in Resident Evil 5.

Gameplay: Mirror’s Edge may not be the first parcour game ever, but is most definitely the best at accurately recreating the experience of racing through cityscapes.

The entire game is played from the first person perspective, which is what sets it apart from all the other action adventure platformers out at the moment such as Prince of Persia. While other first person games such as the Metroid Prime and Turok franchises have had platforming sections, Mirror’s Edge fully embraces it, and expertly executes it.

The controls, while being incredibly well done, are also highly unorthodox. You jump with the left bumper, use the left trigger to slide down to the floor and roll after a big fall, the right trigger to engage in combat and the Y button to grab onto either fixtures or the guns of your enemies in order to disarm them. When surveying the scenery in order to continue, you can press the B button in order to enable “Runner’s Vision”, which directs you as to where you should be heading next. While this may sound like a crutch that would cripple the game’s challenge, it is in fact incredibly helpful at certain points earlier on in the game and is becomes less prevalent as the game continues and you become more comfortable with the game’s mechanics. The physics in the game function predictability and this allows for the game to run much smoother than other trial and error games, but it still relies on trial and error, just a tad. It is only when it comes to the combat does the gameplay start to deteriorate.

Every now and then, Faith will come up against guards, police men and secret service soldiers, and will be forced to engage in hand to hand combat if you don’t decide to just leg it. The combat is very disorientating, as you may hit one of them and they will move position although they are supposed to be temporarily incapacitated, and they will get the jump on you. This will lead to many a frustrating death, as even on the normal difficulty level, the AI is not only incredibly strong, but also relentless with their gunfire. Combined, all these elements give the combat a great air of randomness, and unpredictability, which becomes grating after the sixth time you’re having to fight the same goons. Near the end of the game there is a far greater focus on combat than there was earlier, and there are some sections where you are forced to participate in order to advance, and this constant barrage of dreadful gameplay is incredibly off-putting.

There is also gunplay in the game, but it is absolutely nothing to write home about. You can only get weapons by disarming enemies, and you’re limited to a few shots for most of the weapons. The weapons feel, and sound, underpowered, therefore putting into question why the developers even bothered with it when it is so clearly an afterthought.
However, it’s when the game is letting you run, swing, grab and slide all over the place that it’s at its very best. The sense of speed is expertly handled, and the few sightings of Faith’s hands and legs during the course of the game help it to become an absolutely absorbing and complete rush to experience.

Presentation: Playing in a pristine perfect city means that the majority of the world consists of white walls and rectilinear shapes. Everything looks really clean, adding to the dystopia feel of the game as it simply looks too good to be natural or normal. This great big white world is juxtaposed with blocks of bright primary and secondary colours.

The character models are overly attenuated and look hyper-realistic, giving all the characters an ethereal, supernatural and downright bizarre look. This isn’t helped by facial expressions which are highly cartoonish, and these slight quirks in the characters are even more noticeable when you look at how realistic the cityscapes that surround you are.

The most important thing however, in a game such as this, is the frame rate, and thankfully, that remains stable throughout, and therefore the great sense of speed is maintained.

As with many games at the moment, Mirror’s Edge has an official theme song, and it perfectly fits the mood and ambience of the game. “Still Alive” by Lisa Miskovsky is an ambient, trip hop song with a fantastic riff in the middle, but it has to be said that the song is best heard while either playing the game or watching trailers for the game...

The voice acting in the game is standard, and just like the story, is not particularly special, and it’s once again hard to care when everyone sounds flat even when huge occurrences happen. The same can go for the guards and enemies, as they all sound identical. The game is made even more absorbing however by Faith’s few grunts when she is moving which further adds to the experience.

Similar to “Mass Effect”, there are long waits in elevators to cover up loading times, and in a game which is all about running at top speed from point A to B, this is a jarring problem which greatly slows the game down. There are also random loading sections in the levels, which further breaks the flow of the game.

Longevity: Mirror’s Edge is a very short game. Clocking in at around six hours, the game simply does not last long enough. This is mainly due to the fact that Mirror’s Edge has absolutely no filler, and doesn’t waste your time with frustrating puzzles or back-tracking.

If you’re one of those people who’s obsessed with time trials however, this is the perfect game for you. Not only are there a myriad of incentives to return to the game and better your times, such as a bevy of achievements, but EA has also set up a fantastic infrastructure of posting your best scores and being able to challenge yourself with downloaded ghosts so there’s lots to do, if that’s what you care for.

Closing comments: Mirror’s Edge is a fresh experience, and one that I found highly exhilarating. Sure, there are serious problems with the combat, but these, and the slight presentational issues, are flaws that could be easily sorted out before the sequel falls into our laps.

ultrablue's avatar
Community review by ultrablue (April 24, 2009)

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randxian posted April 24, 2009:

As far as the review itself, I like it. I enjoyed reading it, but was really perplexed by the final score of 8/10. You pretty much only praise the running aspect of the game play, how great the environment looks, and the soundtrack. It seems every other aspect didn't fare too well, so I was a bit surprised this wound up as high as 8/10. It just seems there is as much, if not more critique than praise in this review.
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Masters posted September 02, 2009:

Hey, good review; I enjoyed it.

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