Mirror's Edge (Xbox 360) review
"The future is not as pleasant as it looks. Underneath its brightly colored and highly reflective surface, a totalitarian government sees fit to monitor the flow of all information and crush any dissent among its citizens. In this world, the only privacy allowed is through use of an elite, underground team of mailmen, specially trained in traversing dense urban landscapes in short periods of time. Known as Runners, or “those who walk in paths not meant for human locomotion”, in Mirro..."
The future is not as pleasant as it looks. Underneath its brightly colored and highly reflective surface, a totalitarian government sees fit to monitor the flow of all information and crush any dissent among its citizens. In this world, the only privacy allowed is through use of an elite, underground team of mailmen, specially trained in traversing dense urban landscapes in short periods of time. Known as Runners, or “those who walk in paths not meant for human locomotion”, in Mirror’s Edge you can finally experience firsthand what it’s like to be one without leaving the present. There’s one small caveat, however: you might end up wanting to vomit at times. They call that “runner’s mouth”.
As Faith, a runner with a penchant for breaking into restricted areas and getting shot at as a result, you’ll be crawling through ducts, climbing exterior plumbing fixtures, and leaping from rooftop to rooftop at full sprint as you race to uncover the conspiracy behind your sister getting framed for murder. Now, runners are flighty creatures, and first-person game perspectives are not traditionally known for being able to convey a strong sense of speed and agility. However, the first-person game perspective in Mirror’s Edge is perhaps uniquely designed to do so with a function that allows it to surpass all other perspectives in this respect: you can see your legs. That sounds like a minor addition, but it’s actually the difference between a floating head and a genuine, embodied presence in the universe; one scene where you talk to an angry guy named Ropeburn become quite another entirely when instead you’re looking him in the eye while the hulking behemoth of a man has you by the throat.
Mirror’s Edge is broken up into nine chapters, as to give you appropriate stopping points to recover from motion sickness. You might imagine the game’s proclaimed status as a free-running title would also suggest a degree of openness in the environment, but each level is a relatively straightforward matter of getting from point A to point B in a fashion least recommended to a person in any other profession. The series of events that lead to getting chased by a helicopter can become too routine for some, but it’s a strong formula, even if a few of the game’s chapters end blurring together in retrospect. More importantly, the levels don’t always manage to seamlessly depict a logical reality, unless the reasoning behind the existence of conveniently located half-ladders is revealed when that time comes in the future. Better not to think about it too much; a runner should rely on instinct, after all.
While the game’s obvious emphasis is on fleeing from enemies, there are inevitably times where you’re required to stand and fight. It’s not the smoothest fighting system, as Faith will usually resort to the same three-hit combo, but the weaknesses should generally go unnoticed as any fight in this game lasting more than two seconds means you’re likely doing it wrong and dead already. There is at least one point in Mirror’s Edge, however, where Faith necessarily has to battle an opponent hand-to-hand for an extended length of time; this is undoubtedly the most awkward moment in the game. Whatever martial art is universally practiced by runners in the future, it inexplicably does not allow for a means to parry or dodge. Thankfully, you’re allowed access to guns most of the time--at least, when you’re able to pry them from the hands of a fully conscious enemy.
Ultimately, Mirror’s Edge succeeds very well as an exhibition of its premise. But there’s still nausea to deal with, so in its current state, it should be sufficient to purchase Mirror’s Edge during a light, casual stroll; there’s no need to go running to get it. That is, unless you happen to hear its ridiculously appropriate choice of theme song. Then you’ll probably start sprinting anyway.
Community review by disco1960 (July 22, 2009)
A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.
If you enjoyed this Mirror's Edge review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!