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Mirror's Edge

 

Mirror's Edge

ESRB: Teen - T
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action Games
 
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Author:

Developer: EA Dice
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Features

Players: 1
System Link: 2-16
10MB to Game Save
HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p
In-Game Dolby Digital
Gamepad
Leaderboards

One of the games to catch our attention at E3 in Los Angeles earlier this year was EA’s Mirror’s Edge. We had a glimpse of the game at EA’s booth and overall we were impressed as it showed lots of potential and was already looking solid. Not to mention Faith, the games main character, was easy on the eyes. In any event, I was very curious to see how the game would play out and if it could compete with some of the other heavy hitters that were to be released this holiday season. Well after some playtime with Mirror’s Edge for the Xbox 360 I have some mixed feelings. Overall it is a decent game but it does lack some depth and the gameplay is not as enjoyable as I envisioned.

Graphics

Visually, Mirror’s Edge is a good looking game. The style, animations, and overall presentation is sharp. It takes place in an urban city environment and it is a fast paced game as you sprint through buildings, leap from rooftops, perform wall runs, and dodge the various enemies. You really don’t have time to soak in all the games graphical features as the game moves so fast. Nevertheless, what you do see is solid and Mirror’s Edge scores high marks in this area.

The game’s city environment is truly breathtaking and is the first thing that will leave you awe-struck when you fire up the game. The only drawback is that you do not get to explore as much as I would have hoped. More specifically, Mirror’s Edge is not an open environment like Microsoft’s Crackdown or Rockstar’s GTA 4, so you are a tad restricted as Mirror’s Edge is quite linear. As a result you are limited in terms of being able to soak in all that the game has to offer. Nevertheless, the games environments are on par with games such as Crackdown and the recently released Spider Man: Web of Shadows.

In terms of giving gamers original and innovative characters, Mirror’s Edge gets top scores. The anime cut-scenes are terrific and they have a way of immersing you into the game. That being said, the overall look and character animations are not the best we have seen in recent years. Mirror’s Edge is not Gears of War 2 quality with regards to character animation yet they are fluid and they do react quite naturally.

In terms of the framerate, Mirror’s Edge is very smooth as I did not experience any major slow down. There are some hideously long load times on occasion but for the most part of is not a major problem. I should also mention the draw distance of the game is simply spectacular and Mirror’s Edge is game that should only be experienced in high-def.

Sound

In terms of the sound, Mirror’s Edge scores high marks. When zipping your way across tall buildings, bashing open doors, or hanging on for dear life on the side of a skyscraper, the sounds in Mirror’s Edge really put you in the action. Every detail from Faith’s heavy breathing (okay, get your head out of the gutter) to her frantic footsteps scores high marks in the sound effects department. Not to mention the games soundtrack is equally effective as it is some of the best music I have heard in some time. Add to this that the voice work is also top notch. My only complaint would be that the weapon sounds do not seem to pack a punch and the combat sound effects come up a bit lame. Nevertheless, at the end of the day Mirror’s Edge is very solid in the audio department.

Gameplay

Mirror’s Edge takes place in the not-so-distant future. Citizens are generally quite happy and feel safe but it comes at a cost, mainly the majority of their freedoms. The government has stepped in and restricted access to information over the airwaves, broadcast TV, and the mail system. As a result “runners” are used to deliver sensitive information which is also a main method to avoid being detected by big brother who is always watching. Acting as couriers, “runners” risk life and limb attempting to avoid gunship choppers and relentless cops to deliver the mail. You play as Faith and the story follows her and her struggle to free her sister from a corrupt government. Faith’s sister has been implicated in a murder and Faith’s objective is to clear her name and figure out who is behind the conspiracy.

The story is decent but not something I found myself getting incredibly attached to. The story really becomes secondary to the games action and it can get incredibly tense at times especially in the early going when you struggle to find an escape route while attempting to avoid a bad-ass Emergency Response Team. Bottomline, the story has its moments and the way the story is told through the animated anime-style cut-scenes is fabulous, however you won’t be running home to tell you mother about it.

The single player experience is very short and should only take you 6-8 hours on your first go around depending on how quickly you can solve some of the games puzzles. Mirror's Edge is divided up into a training mode, prologue and nine chapters. The game plays at such a high speed where the name of the game is avoid and escape. So in that sense it comes as no surprise how quickly I managed to get through the single player campaign. There really isn’t much downtime in Mirror’s Edge as the frantic pace has you rushing through levels as fast as you can.

Mirror’s Edge is all about getting from point A to point B as fast as you can and avoiding combat is truly at the heart of the game. In fact there is even an 80 point achievement if you do not shoot anyone throughout the single player campaign. So the game rewards your non-lethal gameplay abilities. As I have already suggested, “runners” do the majority of their deliveries via rooftops and buildings and as a result your controls and timing have to be bang-on. It is a linear game and following the red obstacles will always keep you going in the right direction.

The controls are a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand I give the developers credit for their use of Mirror’s Edge original control scheme and the controls have received a fair share of positive reactions from gamers thus far. On the other hand some gamers, including myself, have a heck of a time getting used to the controls. To jump, the game employs the use of the left bumper. To slide, you pull the left trigger. These two functions alone did not seem natural to me. Once you throw the melee, kicking and shooting controls into the mix it can get confusing fairly quickly. I can’t count how many times I would run up to an enemy AI and impulsively press the B button or I would freeze while I tried to recall what the melee controls were. The game has terrific training mode, however I just found the controls cumbersome and unnatural.

It is a good thing the game emphasizes the need to run away from the enemy because the combat really suffers in Mirror’s Edge. Punches do not pack a punch and the flying ‘Super Fly Jimmy Snuka’ side kicks seem awkward. I never felt like I was doing much damage and I just wish the developers spent a bit more time in this area. An effective combat system could have really put this game over the top for me.

In terms of replay value, the game unlocks a “hard” mode after you have completed the single player campaign. The hard mode takes away the B directional assistance button which was used to guide you in the right direction. Additionally, in hard mode the enemies have been cranked up a notch or two as well. The game also features some time trails which can be extremely fun. There are over 20 of these available and they really put your skills to the test. The time trails were truly a highlight.

Mirror’s Edge does not feature an online component and there is no co-operative mode. A co-operative mode may have been a tall order for the developers, however the absence of one such mode also hurts the game. It would have been great to have been able to run in tandem with a buddy through the games gorgeous environments. Perhaps we will see this in Mirror’s Edge 2?


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