Again, just like Assassins Creed, the hype got me interested in Mirror's Edge and also partly because the idea was new. It wasn't just about shooting everything that moved. Tried it out on the PS3 in an HMV store and died so many times because I wasn't familiar with the controls and didn't know what I was supposed to do.
Had to laugh when I read the complaints the Japanese were making about Faith's character design on Kotaku. Yup, Western developers will have to learn about the whole "Moe" concept if they want to make their games centring around a heroine a hit with the sub-culture of Otakus. That and fan service but judging by what Tom Farren said, I doubt they'll be going down that path. I guess Faith could be considered to have a little of the tsundere personality at least - She has the tsuntsun but not the deredere.
Anyway, moving on...
Faith is a Runner and her sister Kate who works in the police force has been framed for the murder of the new mayor. Now it's up to her to clear the name. Nothing too out of the ordinary besides the whole idea of people stealthily free running and jumping their way across high rise buildings.
Visually the environments don't look as detailed as Assassin's Creed. Probably because of the lack of exotic textures but, the clean modern cityscape and tall buildings makes the environment feel futuristic with a bigger scale.
Besides the in-game cutscenes there are animated videos too done in vector graphics which means, the animation is very limited but still clean and good looking. Less work for the graphic artists too I'm sure.
Controls are generally smooth although sometimes the game just seems to miss grabbing onto ledges deliberately to annoy you. Despite that, it's great fun trying to keep up the momentum and having that sense of speed as you make almost flawless timed movements vaulting over objects, sliding under them, leaping over gaps and rolling to cushion landings.
What I don't like is how it's mostly a trial and run exercise. There's a number of ways to scale the roof tops (although it's not quite as varied as Assassin's Creed) but you die fairly often as you try to work out a route to get from point A to B, forcing one to remember the route and sequence of actions. It would be great if Digital Illusions lets you skip the few seconds of death animation or even have a dedicated option to toggle it off even.
Reviewers seem to mention how repetitive combat is and, I agree with them to a certain degree. When faced with enemies, you can either run away, disarm them or just beat them up. For either of the last two options, you must time your actions fairly much like when you're running or you could die quickly. Time it right and you could end up knocking your enemy out quickly with a single blow and steal their weapon in the process, so there's quite a variety of options here. A "reaction time" mode even lets you slow down time to make it easier.
Besides the variety of combat options, you'll find there's no energy bar. If you're hit by a few gunshots, you can hide to recover your blurred vision and you're very much good to take a few more again. The same can't be said with boss fights however and this is where I agree with the reviewers about "repetitive combat". Instead of facing them like any other enemy, you're expected to time the exact actions and if you fail, you end up watching the cutscene over and over again. Needless to say, this is pretty frustrating because it can't be skipped. Perhaps the good news is, the fights are rare.
Mirror's Edge main campaign doesn't take long to finish but there's a lot of replayability to be had as you try to race through the maps as quickly as you can. I think it's a fresh breather into the first person genre and the current selection of games available. Even if they don't fix the "problems" I mentioned earlier, I think I would enjoy playing a second game.
- Sheer scale of the cities and clean futuristic look.
- Sense of speed, keeping the momentum up as a "Runner".
- It's something new!
- Replay any chapters and movies.
- Race mode and online leaderboards offer replayability.
- Trial and error, remembering sequence of actions to beat level.
- Re-watching "boss" scenes while trying to get the timing right.
- That noise when you fall to your doom off a high building.
- A bigger or different coloured cursor at the menu wouldn't hurt.