King Beetle Blog

Monday, December 1, 2008

Game Review - Mirror's Edge

Well, girls and boys, time for another game review. This time, taking a look at the heavily parkour-inspired game Mirror's Edge, and how it stays a step ahead! Apologies for the terrible pun.

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Taking a leap ahead of the race to give out great games (again, apologies for the pun), Mirror's Edge strays away from the focus of gunplay and warfare, while still staying action-packed. Admittedly, the trailer given here does not do the game enough justice with the amount of mobility you have in the vibrant, urban world in this game. The game crosses the borderline of movement that you can perform in most games, and I personally adore this focus. Too many times have I been irritated by not being able to scale a waist-high wall in most games.

Anyways, let's get to the point, and start off this review by looking at the storyline. You take the role of Faith, one of the city's many Runners; a group who devotes themselves as the only way of free communication in these days as most phone lines or such are monitored. When news of murder of one of the canditates for mayor of the city catches Faith's attention, she quickly rushes off to check it out. Turns out, a certain female cop was framed for the murder, being Faith's sister, Kate, whom she hasn't spoken to in years. The story develops as Faith makes her way about the city, uncovering the truth behind the murder, and why her sister had been chosen to be framed. It proves to be quite the immersive story, and leaves no questionable gaps once it's all uncovered, so, no gripes from me on this bit.

For games these days, gameplay is a big focus, and Mirror's Edge takes a unique turn to most games that you might see. The game manages to captivate you, making you feel like you're right in the game, by placing you in first-person perspective, which is quite unusual for a game with this type of gameplay, but Mirror's Edge pulled this off flawlessly. Nothing stands in your way as Runners are trained to move where they want, taking strong example from the unique ways of Parkour, the art of moving from place to place as quickly and effectively as possible, using the environment to your advantage, instead of letting it impede you. Pipes become ladders, boxes become springboards, and walls become yet another surface to run and jump off of.

These skills are entirely simple to use, even, as most of the controls focus with the shoulder-buttons on the console controllers, mainly an 'up' action button (jumping, scaling, climbing), and a 'down' action button (sliding, dropping, rolling). After playing through for just a moment, the controls become almost natural, and feel smooth and successive. Although, with all this ability of movement, the player rarely gets lost, as your 'Runner's Vision' helps by highlighting objects that help you reach your goal in red, giving you enough of a hint as to where to go. If the player still finds himself clueless as to where to go, by pressing a button, the camera looks in the direction of the next place to go, letting the player get an idea where to head next. Some people may say this makes the game much too easy, but in reality, it helps greatly. Even then, if you don't like it you can turn off Runner's Vision in the options, and is disabled automatically in the Hard difficulty.

Although, there are more dangers to Faith than simply the environment, as cops, the FBI, and sometimes even S.W.A.T. teams are sent to stop you. Luckilly the game isn't focused around gunplay, as you're not exactly prepared for shoot-outs. Your best bet is to isolate them and pick them off one by one, using melee to knock a guy with either normal melee or wickedly-animated take-downs, triggered by timing your button press. Although you can pick up and use any gun you may come accross by taking down the authorities, it's best to just use it up and throw it away, as it restricts your moves and slows you down a great deal.

The presentation is one of the places the game excels most, standing out from other games with its great visuals and sounds. The city shows a unique art style, mostly filled with white or grey, with bright colors filling areas to give everything a vibrant air to it. Sounds also play an important part, as the common hustle-and-bustle atmosphere of the city are quite evident, just as much as Faith's heavy breathing as you sprint across rooftops and through hallways. Everything is designed as realistic as possible; the subways, rooftops, malls, and corporate offices looking just how they should, and help contribute to the great atmosphere.

As for replayability, the game's a little on the short side, but even then you can try again on a different difficulty, and there's the speed run option, along with plenty of time trial courses. So, it gives a good amount of options once you're done the main story mode.

Overall, I'd suggest renting it at first, to see if you like it, but if you're already plenty interested, go ahead and buy it. In my opinion, I'd wait till it's about 40-50$, but then I'd be a hypocrite for wanting to buy it now.

Graphics: 9.0

Sound: 9.5

Story: 8.0

Gameplay: 9.5

Overall: 9.1


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