Powered by the Frostbite engine, Mirror’s Edge allows gamers to immerse themselves into a magnificent dystopian world and discover its darkest secrets. Discover the origin story of Faith and delve deeper into the inner workings of the city and the world around it.
If you happen to be one of the folks out there who are prone to motion sickness, you better avoid this or at the least have an emergency bag at the ready while playing. Regardless of plot, art style, or anything else in here, this game is first and foremost an arcady Free Runner simulator meant to give you the thrill of high-mobility free running. Free running, if you haven't heard of it, is sometimes referred to as Parkour - a training discipline using movement that developed out of military obstacle course training - that amounts to a lot of fluid and sometimes outrageous jumps, flips, and otherwise seemingly dangerous tasks. Although parkour is a blast to watch, the real question is: is it a blast to play ?
The biggest strength of Mirror's Edge is it's free running race-esque elements. This single portion will override all other things - the plot, the combat, the aesthetics, sometimes even the actual mechanics itself. The added benefit of the bob and weave of the camera, down to the almost dizzying camera maneuvers upon a rolled landing, help add a sense of you being in the true first person, as opposed to the rather static rail-ride of most of the first person genre. It really adds to the immersion factor, especially when you notice that your character's breath is getting ragged as you run or are hurt.
The plot picks up after a lot of backstory has taken place and the game doesn't really bother taking too much time to fill you in. The city is currently run by a totalitarian government that highly monitors absolutely everything, so folks that wish to talk a bit more secretly employ the services of folks known as Runners - a courageous batch of parkour experts who zip messages across the rooftops on foot. We (the players) play as Faith - one such of these runners - who after delivering a message to another such courier finds out that her sister has been framed for the death of a politician, prompting her (Faith) to investigate the matter and attempt to save her sister (cops aren't treated well in prison, and Faith's sister just so happens to be a cop).
There is a whole mess of twists and turns amongst the plot, but at the same time a lot of it doesn't give one the sense of "I didn't see that coming at all" either. It's a basic plot, really just serving to get a person from point A to point B and stage to stage, and the parts that aren't gameplay oriented usually unfold in animated (the drawn kind) cutscenes. The cutscenes and the game itself all share the same aesthetic, which makes for a very tranquil feel most of the time, but also a rather bland landscape (there is a very large amount of white on everything, everywhere, and what's not white is usually blue). The blandness helps to refine a gameplay mechanic - Runner Vision - in which some objects are colored red to signal to the player they should or can interact with it in some way. Each stage ends up flowing much the same as the last as well - running segment, combat segment, and some more running segment.
It's these combat segments that feel the worst. Although during ninety percent of the running segments you feel as though you are one with the game (the other ten percent involves the controls not doing what you thought you told them to do, usually resulting in you falling off a wall to your doom), the combat always ends up feeling like more of a chore that you wish you could skip (outside of the first stage). Use of guns (when you steal one) feels generally lackluster (both in impact and on screen presence) and really makes the player feel as though it wasn't intended for them to use in the first place (although it would lead to a lot of fights being over with a lot faster). Having tried to play through the game without killing anyone, I found combat to be much harder than that, as combinations of normal attacks became more and more useless, and only takedowns would end up saving me from the two punches an opponent had to deliver to take me down.
The somewhat agitating combat is only made worse when the game decides it will change the rules of how certain moves work as you play - and this was no more noticeable than with the jumping takedown (whereas most the other attacks would at least trigger constantly). You could attack someone while jumping through the air, and if high enough it would cause a instant takedown (making it one of the quickest and safest ways to knock enemies out), but the problem arises when you can go about this two separate times in the exact same manner, and the second time it wouldn't work. This is a minor detail for the most part - more than two thirds of the game is non-combat oriented, or simply running from combat altogether, and upon defeat the "checkpoints" are generally located in such a manner that you never feel too punished having to redo things to get back to where you lost (which is generally never more than a room or two away).
The musical score is nice, with a very mellow relaxing sound to it that only tends to pick up when action is about to be or currently present. It helps to make the overall experience better, as you don't feel nearly as stressed as you could get trying to navigate around and get to your objective (and failing the requisite one plus times in the process) with the relaxing tunes as you would if it was just adrenaline-rich dubstep or something. Voice work is done well, with actors putting in an adequate amount of emotion to their lines and reading them understandably too boot, although you best get used to hearing the word "Blues!" I'm still not entirely sure why the police are always trying to shoot every single parkour messenger they come across, but I probably missed something while enjoying the rooftop obstacle course laying around. The guns don't really sound that good in comparison to all the other audio, but considering how the guns are really ever there to ruin the fun of the free running, I can only imagine why no one made them sound cool.
Graphically, it destroyed my computer until I turned physics off (breaking windows caused so much lag in the game that it became unplayable). This would be pretty surprising, considering how rather plain the graphics actually are (Probably mostly on account of all the white causing things to feel blended together) in the first place, until you start to think of your computer trying to render individual physics on about a million pieces of shattered glass on all sides of the character. After that little hiccup was dealt with, it ran relatively fine - no window mode is present, however, which led me to all sorts of grief when trying to record the video for this review (it just refused to let me record it in almost any way).
Mirror's Edge also comes packed with a race mode, in which you just try to complete a race from checkpoint to easily noticeable checkpoint (seriously, it's easier to figure out where you need to go in the race mode then it is in the story mode) for top time, as well as an extras menu that has some artwork and audio unlocked from collectables in the story mode. By the end of the story, I was getting highly frustrated with the controls and (more specifically) combat, but the enjoyability of the free running combat-free courtesy of Race mode really helped level me back and and bring me to normal. It's a good game that isn't too long (took me between 6 to 8 hours I believe, even with my large amount of distress cause by later levels), although replayability beyond the races is probably not going to be incredibly high. Surely, for those who want to experience parkour without the risk of harm, this one is probably at least worth a rental.