Thursday, October 21, 2010

Game Review #4: Mirror's Edge

What happens when you take the concept of modern parkour and fuse it with platforming action? You'd get a very underrated game! It was hardly known upon release, and very little word had spread about it. Probably because it was so hard to describe. But why? Let's take an in-depth look at Mirror's Edge by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE).

Mirror's Edge is an Action/Adventure/Platforming First-Person Shooter. That's a lot to take in! How exactly did they blend all those genres into one game? The game starts by introducing us to our main character, Faith Connors. Faith is part of a group of people called "Runners". Runners are people who risk life and limb performing parkour through the cities rooftops to deliver important packages to various locations and people. The Runners have always been looked down upon by the city, and Mayor Callaghan has always urged the Runners are a no good rebel society, bred to be nothing more than smugglers. This of course isn't the case, as they only carry out what seemingly are legal objectives. Faith has always had a deep seeded hatred to their Totalitarian government. Her parents were part of the riot's to fight for the cities freedom, and not that it was said, but we can assume they died for it.  Now let's move on and cover the beginning of the game shall we?

The story begins as Faith Connors is running through some practice training with her friend and fellow Runner, Celeste. Celeste is ordered to go do a job, and proceeds on ahead. Now, this walk through is a little hard to explain as most of it is just getting from location to location, so I'll try to clarify key moments. 

Depicted above is Celeste running Faith through exercises. Click image to see full size.
Cutscenes are rendered through use of comic imagery. Usually.
In the first level, Faith is hurrying through some various rooftops to deliver a bag to Celeste (The bags themselves are called Runner Bags, they are yellow and resemble a metal briefcase and have Faith's eye tattoo imprinted on them, more on those later). Faith's instructor Merc, informs her after the job was done to get home and relax. Though, shortly after Faith returns to her home, she finds out that her sister might be in trouble at Pope's office (Pope was to be running for mayor, promising to turn the city into the beautiful place it should be). 


Faith proceeds into the building and heads up towards her sister Kate (Kate is a police officer). The police and SWAT team (nicknamed Blues) are then tipped off by a news chopper that Faith was spotted entering the building. Being a Runner, they want her nowhere near that building and proceed to cut her off. Faith then has to dash her way up to her sister, where when they finally meet up, have a bad situation in their hands. It turns out Pope is murdered and Kate is next to him. Kate explains that someone knocked her out and when she came to, Pope had been murdered with her own gun. Both of them believe it to be a setup, by who though, we do not know.

The SWAT team shows up and the situation gets out of control, as Faith is now believed to be an accomplice in Pope's murder. Faith now has to get out of the building before it's too late. 

            This scene is amazing, you're bolting out of the building while being fired at through the glass by choppers. If you're on PC, turn on Nvidia PhysX to see incredible detail.

The next objective: get to safety by going through a mall complex.

Just beautiful. But keep running!
The police are around every corner.
At this point in the game, it gives you the option to fight or run. That's what diversified this game from other shooters. I remember reading a quote saying that the game "Is probably the only shooter where you'd rather kick a guys ass with your feet than shoot him point blank". Mirror's Edge also introduced a fighting system, where the player has "runner's vision". Runner's vision is basically the concept of slowing down time to do precise movements and have easier disarms. It also provides the player with red outlines of important areas and objects to progress further.

Sometimes drains don't allows have fat Italian plumbers.
Now you find yourself out of the mall and rushing across race tracks. Once you're through that area, you find yourself at a very large storm drain/maintenance acess area. All is not over yet though, as snipers end up down in the drains.

Impressive lighting effects are strewn throughout the game.
Another important thing I should note, is the importance of the Runner's Bags. Runner's Bags are kind of like an extra objective. There are 3-4 of them hidden in each mission. They unlock extra artwork, and various other things. You'll know one is near you if you see the markings like in my screen shot. Now it's time to rate the game overall. I apologize if I didn't cover certain aspects, as there is too much detail to the overall system of the game to write in a good sitting.

Plot: 7.5/10

 Most of the missions you find in this game are fluent with the plot, the only issue I see is you pretty much just go out and run rather than doing some solid objective. Although, the storyline and backing for each mission is really, really good. One thing I really like is how the cutscenes between most missions are animated, in the same style as the comic books.

Graphics (for their time): 8.5/10

When this bad boy hit shelves in 2008, it definitely pushed you to the limit. Finally using the latest Nvidia PhysX engine really shone in this game. The screenshots I gave were on low graphics settings, let alone all highest with 16x AA or 8x Anisotropic filtering. Even today the game holds up quite well graphic wise. This is also a title that fully supports Nvidia 3D engine, which supports almost all different types of 3D. Some scenes where you're tip-toe to an edge of a skyscraper are also really good visually, and will probably scare those of us who are terrified of heights.  

Controls: 8/10

The PC controls of the game are the only ones I will give an 8 to. I haven't personally seen the other consoles, and honestly am a little baffled at how well they may play. Because the game is solidly first person, with very realistic motion and fluidity, it's hard to imagine the controls on a console game. If you would like to rate it, drop me a comment below!  So anyway, the controls are very basic, but can be used together to create either really impressive parkour across rooftops, or make nice combos

Replay Value: 6.5/10

While it is a very impressive game that plays well and has many memorable things, I find it hard to say playing this game again is on a gamers mind. While you probably will play it again in the future, it doesn't really beg for a replay, unless you are an achievement junky or are wanting to collect all the runner's bags for unlockables.  Now I personally replayed this again on a harder difficulty, but that's because I really truly enjoy this genre and this new found type of gameplay Mirror's Edge brought to the table, at the time anyway.

Price /Where to get it: still seems to have the best overall price, though if you're really lucky you may find this game at Wal-Mart on sale for slightly cheaper. I provided a link to each version of the game below.


Final Mark: 8/10

Another great title that sadly went under appreciated. Did you know this game has sold 2 millions copies worldwide? And this is the development team who backed the Battlefield franchise! I would blame the marketing honestly, when they created the ad campaigns (no commercials to my knowledge) through e3 and other sources, they really didn't say much about it. Infact most people I speak to about the game will simply say "Isn't that a parkour simulator"? In which I will quickly say no and slap them. The strange part is, reading the numbers for their sales, was this game even marketed to Japan and surrounding Asia? Anyway, overall this game really stands out as a unique new experience for platform gamers, shooter lovers, and action/adventure junkies. Having that gratifying feeling of running as fast as you can from a shootout and leaping across massive skyscrapers is exhilarating to say the least.  The story was also impressive, and on a special note, if you can get your hands on an online or real life copy of the Mirror's Edge comic, it will really feel like a nice addition to the back story (I believe this comic was only given out if you attended the 2007 e3 event). I hope you enjoyed my review on Mirror's Edge, and if you like what you see, go buy it! Once again I leave you with some closing screen shots. Have a good day.

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  1. Wow, that's an awesome description and set of screenshots for this. *Sniff* Made me relive the moment and make me feel crappy that I didn't see this on the PC, the graphics look 5 times better than the Ecksbox.

  2. @Rorschach the weird part is, that's on graphical settings low, and my screenshot program pixelates the hell out of it.

  3. This looks awesome. And yeah, the screenshots are unexpectedly good even though you say it's on the low settings. I've only ever played the demo of the game, but the cutscenes have an awesome style to them, and I really like the gameplay. Since it's so cheap, I should just up and purchase it...

    Your review was great, by the way. Goes into a lot of details, and the plethora of screenshots really helps and adds to it.