Rating

B+

Specific Ratings

GameplayB+
GraphicsA
Learning CurveB
Replay ValueB+
SoundA

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Clean, unique graphical style
  • Music and sound effects are a perfect fit
  • Nearly limitless replay value via time-trials
  • Much more fresh than another typical FPS
Cons
  • Rather short with only a handful of levels
  • FPS fans may be turned off by lack of combat
  • Difficulty a bit inconsistent at times

Mirror's Edge (Xbox 360)

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Summary

An excellent pioneering effort for the FPW (first-person walking) genre

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Description

A lot of hype was given to Mirror's Edge; it was marketed as a revolutionary game and people in the industry were gushing over how they'd never seen or played anything like it.

I partially agree. Though it does have its definite share of new moments, it's a huge stretch to call it revolutionary. Taken simply, the game is a first-person shooter without the shooting, and with more interaction with the character's surroundings.

Mirror's edge takes place in a slightly futuristic, fictional city. Nothing revolutionary there. The basic idea is that your character, Faith, is a "runner", someone who skirts the borders of legality by delivering documents and materials not available by legal means to individuals, which is difficult for normal people due to heavy surveillance and legal presence in the city. These deliveries are accomplished for the most part on foot, as runners are specially trained to take advantage of their environment in unique ways, pushing themselves to achieve extraordinary physical feats such as wallrunning and wallclimbing.

The story is nothing too exciting or revolutionary, but the gameplay is where Mirror's Edge really shines. First is the look of the game. Nearly the entire city is an abrasive white, which may not seem too exciting, but as you play there are overloads of garish color, a stark contrast that is quite striking. In addition, "runner-vision", a gameplay option that highlights objects in the city that can be climbed, turned, and otherwise interacted with, can add a great style to the city as well. Controls are easy to learn but can occasionally provide frustration, but that can't be avoided with any game.

There is something else about Mirror's Edge that's not immediately apparent. It took me nearly half my playthrough to realize what the draw was, and why things move so smoothly and gracefully in the game. The most monumental thing about the way this game plays is that...you can just PLAY it. If you wanted to you could go through the whole game without stopping, without even pausing. There actually IS no in-game menu, no options or gadgets, no tedious weapon customization or selection, not even any real need for an "objectives" screen. But the fluidity doesn't end there. What's most remarkable is the actual play field. It's completely empty. Aside from a tiny reticule in the center of the screen (which can be disabled) there is NOTHING. An FPS would be cluttered with max ammo, remaining ammo, your health, enemy's health, your special power meter, compass, grenades, secondary grenades, etc etc. Mirror's Edge has NOTHING. Even when you disarm an enemy and take his weapon, there's just the gun poking up. No ammo display-you just have to assume the weapon you took has a reasonable amount of ammo for that gun, and after than ammunition is expended the gun is automatically discarded. Brilliant.

Something else that impressed me was the music. I have been very disappointed with music in nearly every next-gen game I've played. It seems like games are trying too hard to put orchestral and epic music into games, shying away from anything that's actually memorable. Mirror's Edge brings back the good old days when the music actually fits the situation, and though the majority of the game is quiet, the musical sections are very fitting and catchy.

Probably the biggest criticism of Mirror's Edge is its length. People complained that there weren't enough episodes and once they had finished the game, threw it back on the shelf to collect dust. What people don't realize is that there's a HUGE postgame here. A great deal of new games have a time-trial feature, but I have never found the energy or desire to attempt any of them. However, even DURING my playthrough of Mirror's Edge I was thinking to myself how fun it would be to just try and fly through these levels as fast as I could, looking for not-so-obvious paths (of which there are nearly limitless amounts) and getting a faster time. Not since Super Metroid have I ever actually WANTED to time-trial anything except a racing game. Anyway, there are speedruns of each episode available, as well as special time-trial sections that are unique from the main game. All these offer nearly endless replay value, the problem being many people may not have the desire to utilize them.

The length of the main game is a slight downfall, as is the difficulty; it spikes sharply, particularly in the rare combat sections, then inconsistently gets more and less difficult in seemingly random places, which may turn off newer gamers. One thing I would have liked was a spectator mode for the time trials, one that would allow you to watch other gamer's speedruns from a third or first-person view. Hardcore FPS fans will probably not enjoy this too much as the focus here is more on speed and environment than shooting hundreds of baddies.

Mirror's Edge is certainly fresh, there's no denying that. And while it's not without its flaws, the surreal environment and sheer playability of the game make it a definitely worthwhile play.




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