With the boldly defined colours in the roof-top environment surrounding you, you look around frantically for your next escape route. Chased by armed police, your only weapon is speed and the knowledge that you need to run the hell away. Success! You spy a pipe on a wall of a building near to you. You find a ledge to run off from and in a hail of bullets you see your arms and legs flail in the still air before grabbing the pipe. You pull yourself up to the roof-top above you. Look around and the police are stuck on the other building. You carry on running and weaving through your accomplice, the environment, before reaching safety. You stop and hear yourself panting. You are safe. For now.
Platform – 360 | PS3 | PC
Developed by DICE | Published by EA
Mirror’s Edge is a game that, when it works perfectly, is unlike anything else available. It is both breath-taking and immersive. When you start playing, the first thing to hit you will be the design. The environment is distinctive with its use of colour and lighting and everything is very clear-cut. The city looks very clean and precise…perhaps a little bit too much. Indeed, you play as a courier named Faith who uses the roof-tops of The City to pass on messages or small items between persons.
Why is this necessary? The same reason the city is so clean; The City is under totalitarian control and you fight against it. Whilst the plot is mostly throw-away, it does provide one interesting element which is never explored; the game never explicitly says what exactly you deliver. The result is questioning whether or not you consider yourself a freedom fighter, or very conceivably running errands for terrorists.
Little else is left to your imagination plot-wise though. It is told through anime style sequences splitting up each level, with some sporadic dialogue pushing you along within them. The rest of the sub-ten hours story is filled with your foot-steps, gun shots and a brilliantly atmospheric soundtrack. The latter suits the game perfectly. Honestly, when it comes to presentation this game has few rivals. Its graphical fidelity on the consoles is the only restraining bolt [Update (21/9/12) – On the PC, the game still holds its own easily with recent releases] more than made up for by clever colour usage which taps into the setting seamlessly whilst generally providing you with a clear indication of where to go. Essentially, colour and sound is used sparingly, but in doing so makes it feel used perfectly.
Simplicity follows through with the actual game-play too. On the consoles, your primary skill-set is composed of the left analogue stick and your two left shoulder buttons. Whilst it might feel weird getting used to pressing a jump button that isn’t A or X, within a short time of the tutorial it feels natural. This is expanded when all of these are used in order/combination with your momentum to perform parkour style moves allowing you to quickly scale obstacles or move around the environment. There are times though where these controls are not enough, when escape means having to fight.
Definitely the weakest part of the game, at some points you will fight. Faith is armed with agility. She has no armour and whilst she does have regenerating health, she doesn’t exactly have much of it to begin with. Using the right shoulder buttons, Faith can perform a variety of kicks and punches, all of course aided by momentum. You also have access to a sort of bullet time, allowing you to slow down the game. This is particularly useful for disarming enemies, wherein you can use their guns to try and take out others before discarding them and moving along. Be warned though, as some guns will impede Faith’s movement and in getting close, you risk being shot by other officers and if you fail a disarm you’ll be very much in harm’s way.
Combat wouldn’t really be a problem and in most cases it isn’t as you can simply run away, providing you with an exhilarating sense of fear and movement. Unfortunately, there are times throughout the story where you will be forcibly held up. Whilst the checkpoints throughout the levels are mostly generous, for a game all about flow and movement, the combat can at times really badly slow this down, even to a halt. In addition, sometimes movement won’t quite gel up with what you intended presenting you with an unexpectedly long fall to death. Further, at times the level design can be a little bit complex and not present itself as well as you feel it should do.
Upon completing the story you unlock a time trial mode for each level. Herein lies the game’s strongest suit; Mirror’s Edge boasts fantastic replayability. My first run through took me about nine hours. My second took me about six. Combined with online leaderboards, the race from point to point magnifies everything about the game, but if you’re willing to look past its more glaring flaws, a splendid experience emerges. For many, the game has to just click and for others it simply isn’t enjoyable showcasing this game as having a real Marmite Effect, but as an experience there is no equal, for better or worse.
On all three platforms it can usually be picked up for under £10 and sometimes as low as £5. The game isn’t perfect, but what it does right it does so very well and is unparalleled and for the price it is available at, it still holds up as offering something different. Most first person perspective games arm you with a gun and tell you to shoot. Mirror’s Edge arms you with a ledge and asks you to jump.