In many ways Mirror’s Edge is one of the more unique games that was released in the last few years. The main theme of the game is running. As the character Faith, you run from people, you run to people, you run all over the city. You play as a “runner”, not surprisingly. This game is definitely worth a look if you want something different from the typical shooter.
Where this game really works is in the puzzles. As in games such as Tomb Raider, rather than ambiguous puzzles which involve combing things together, this game is focused on figuring out how to navigate the environment. Like Lara Croft, Faith makes death defying jumps, and performs impressive acrobatic feats in order to navigate the city. (Though, unlike Lara Croft, she has a much smaller bra size.) Certainly the idea of the environment being the puzzle is not new, but in many regards, Mirror’s Edge doesn’t feel like Tomb Raider or Uncharted. It is much faster paced. Rather than carefully planning out the path that you are going to take, you are just going to make a run for it and hope for the best. Naturally, you’ll often cause Faith to fall to her death. This isn’t particularly horrible, because the checkpoints are frequent enough that you aren’t going to lose your temper too much. Though, there are a few very frustrating moments.
In this game, Faith’s ability to navigate the environment is very robust. She can run along almost any wall, grab onto most ledges, and navigate her way over fences in the snap of a finger. It’s the ultimate game of parkour. Many of the more difficult jumps are somewhat forgiving when it comes to how accurate your button pressing skills are, but there are a few that do require very precise timing.
Navigating through levels is extremely fun, except for one thing. Combat. The combat is absolutely horrendous in this game. The idea was cool, but poorly executed. The idea was that Faith would be making a run for it, then glide past an enemy, disabling them and taking their weapon, then take a few shots at another bad guy, then toss the stolen weapon and continue running. It sounds really cool, and it’s cool to watch in the load screens, but it just doesn’t work out that well in the game. For one thing, you have to perfectly time when you push the “grab” button. Most of the time you will fail to disarm the enemy, and you’ll end up just beating them down with your fists. There is a slow motion option to make disarming an opponent a little easier, but it is far too slow, and if you use that option you have to wait forever for the disarm animation to complete, before you can get back into the action. And another thing is that you almost always face too many enemies at once, so while you are trying to disarm one, another three are going to shoot you dead. Combat might actually be tolerable if encounters with the enemy occurred half as often. As it stands combat is very awkward and far to frequent.
The story should also be commented on. It’s not very strong, and most players won’t follow it at all. Before and after every level there is a little cut scene that is supposed to give the player an idea of what is going on, but other than Faith, and her main boss, a guy named Merc, most people won’t even realize who the other characters are. There is a part of the game where it is revealed that a guy that Faith thought was bad, is actually good, and as a player you won’t even realize that he was a character at all. Now if you actually do follow the story through the whole game, you’ll probably notice that the story has one very disturbing element: Faith is a cop-killer.
The only enemies in the game are what are referred to as “blues”, which are law enforcement officers, or cops. Further, there is nothing in the story to suggest that the police force is corrupt, there are a few corrupt city officials, but nothing particularly abnormal about the city. In fact the city is a Utopia, and not the type of Utopia where it’s a paradise on the surface, but then a really horrible place underneath, no. It actually is a genuine Utopia. In fact the reason that “runners” like Faith exist is because they had grown bored with the Utopia, and thought that the city need a little excitement, and why not throw in some crime while they were at it. Indeed, you essentially play as a criminal gone cop-killer, whose only motivation is that it’s fun.
In the actual plot of the game, there is something about Faith’s sister being framed for murder, and so maybe that is the justification for Faith’s illegal activities, but Faith was already a criminal and cop-killer before the framing occurred, and the back story confirms that the “runners” had always been criminals.
While playing a criminal is not particularly unusual, or absurd, it is strange to think that this game did get a T rating considering it’s would be controversial storyline. Honestly, though, the storyline is so forgettable, that few would think to mention this, or decide it’s rating based up it.
There is one “bug” that should be commented on as well. The PC version of the game allows you to activate PhysX which allows NVIDIA Graphics Card owners the ability to enjoy extra special effects such as a realistic glass shattering when a window is broken, but even on newer Geforce cards this can seriously slow down the game. If you are experiencing this problem, turning off PhysX will remedy the problem.
The combat and story aside, this is definitely a game worth playing for the unique game play alone. It’s not often that games come out that are both unique and fun, but with Mirror’s Edge you will be able to have that experience. Expect to jump, roll, hop, slide, and run to your heart’s content.
Alternatives: Tomb Raider: Underworld.