Sunday, 11 January 2009

Through The Looking Glass (A Mirrors Edge Review)

I'd be the first one to admit that I am too critical when it comes to words. I don't mean I hate words, I mean that when it comes to writing about anything at all, all the compliments and nice thoughts I had penned for it just evaporate in a mist of 'this-could've-been-better'ness. Which upsets me, because I know that I just won't be able to give the right kind of praise for Mirror's Edge that I know it deserves.

Now just let me compose myself since I just realised I said something so nice about an EA product. What am I turning into.

I will begin where most begin, and that being the synopsis of the game. You are Faith, a runner, delivering top secret messages and files to those who hire you, avoiding the ever watchful eye of the government who has opted to mould the world into a utopia at the sake of it's citizens' freedom. While a utopian setting doesn't sound nearly as interesting to most of you as perhaps Fallout 3's grey land of grey, it works out in the end gameplay-wise (and you hard-of-sight people who can't differentiate between a slate-grey rock and a charcoal grey house also benefit.)

As for graphics, it's pretty much spotless. And I don't mean just the cleanliness of it; the designs of buildings and architecture in general is flawless, and the use of stark, powerful primary colours don't seem out of place or forced, no, in fact they add more believability to it (there are even paint cans lying next to big red objects, how awesome is that?). If there was one game this year that clearly had love and care put into it's design, it's Mirrors Edge.

Gameplay is pretty much virtual parkour, but instead of looking cool-doing-gnarly-tricks as an incentive, keeping your life is the reason you roll, slide, jump, climb, and fall. There's never been a game using a first-person view in this way, so it's hard to compare it to another. But honestly? It really is like being in the eyes of someone who's running over buildings, and kicking the asses of lotsa Blues. It can be exhilarating; keeping just ahead of the Runner-hunters, sliding at break neck speeds down the side of a building, it really gets the adrenaline going, but on the same side of a different coin, it can be scary as well; free falling hundreds of metres to your dark and crunchy death, failing that jump and not knowing whether you'll make the next ledge, and even running headlong into a group of hostiles can get the ol' ticker pumping. But hey, if that's what EA/DICE was going for, bravo to them.

You're going to hate me, but a couple of niggles have popped into my head already. I will say them now before angry mobs with fire knock down my door. First off, AI. It's not a big niggle (Can you get big niggles? Biggles?) seeing as you don't spend a lot of time interacting with them, just stealing their guns or punching their lights out, but they're clearly not the brightest bunch.

Let's say you're in a firefight. You're almost dead, so you retreat behind a nearby pillar and regain your womanly composure. Not once does the enemy think to actually walk to other side of the pillar, and shoot at you from there. No, these are gentlemanly enemies, and are quite content with waiting for you before you continue your little feud.

Fear my artistic talent.

Secondly, but most vitally, there's the slightly off physics. It works in favour of gameplay, sure, but that doesn't mean it's right. There's the landing on things from extreme heights and surviving (albeit these things are always red things, which leads me to believe that red things are made of some otherworldly spongy matter that actually defies our puny laws of physics) there's also the complete ignoring of friction (the amount of times I've slid down a pole or ladder must've burnt clean through my gloves and those fantastically manicured hands) and finally, where's the gravity? Even a gifted athlete could not run along walls like that, or wall-jump twice, or even make those insane jumps that she does.

That's what athlete's call a steroid jump.

But again, minor niggles. These should hardly affect your choice when you buy the game. Instead you should ask yourself; "Do I have perfect eyesight? Would I be permanently damage them with insanely bright colours?" "Do I get motion sickness when I run in real life?*" and most importantly "Do I care about a story?". If you answered 'No' to all the above, by golly this game is for YOU.



*For those people out there who actually do get motion sickness...seriously? Do you? Jeez.


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