Mirror’s Edge Xbox 360 Review
The Xbox’s Breakdown made a fair attempt to make it feel as if you were controlling both more than just a pair of appendages and a gun, and to a degree it did succeed, although never to the level that Mirror’s Edge manages. It’s no overstatement to say that EA’s parkour based game is the truest simulation of a first person perspective human body ever devised.
Mirror’s Edge centres on Faith, a runner, who just as the name implies, runs a lot, mostly from the police. Early events see Faith and her sister become murder suspects, in what turns out to be a pretty ordinary, but adequate enough story, which is largely told in between levels through anime style sequences. These look fairly stylish, but are a stark contrast to the beautiful in-game visuals and for that very reason, they feel a bit detached from the rest of the game.
Mirror’s Edge is more Metroid than it is Halo and even then it’s less about shooting than Nintendo’s game. Another fair comparison to make is the wonderful Assassin’s Creed, as both games are centred around free running, the crazy activity of leaping across rooftops and running up walls.
Whereas in Assassin’s Creed, all this running and jumping about is effortless, Mirror’s Edge however, makes you work more for your fun. The controls are accessible and there are instances where it feels as if you’re being guided to safety after a slightly fumbled jump, but for the most part, carefully lined up leaps and momentum are a necessity to reach the smaller ledges, pipes and whatnot. Because of these requirements, Mirror’s Edge occasionally has some frustrating moments, but feels all the more rewarding when difficult jumps are made around the well crafted levels.
Even if it’s not the focus, Mirror’s Edge does still have combat. DICE likened the guns to temporary powerups and that’s exactly what they are. It’s a good thing too, as the gunplay here is shocking, especially when you consider it comes from a developer who has much in the way of experience in this area. Targeting is inconsistent and death animations are rigid. Melee combat fares much better, with a useful and stylish disarm manoeuvre but again it’s not the point of the game. The obvious emphasis here is not on direct confrontation after all but rather running away, which also makes up some of the games most exciting and memorable moments.
Visually its striking, with many of the stages splashed in bright colours (if you have runners vision turned on, the red parts are actually an unobtrusive and clever method of signposting ), which is a change from the greys and browns that make up the vast majority of other first person games. It would look clean and rather inviting, if not for the fact that there’s often people with guns trying to kill you. Seeing Faith’s arms and legs reacting to her environment realistically makes her the most joyous character to take charge of in a first person game, whilst her strained breaths are a nice touch.
Mirror’s Edge is a short game and one that is devoid of any form of multiplayer component (rooftop races would have been nice) although it’s also one that encourages repeat play. There’s not only a tougher difficulty level to play through, as well as optional bag pickups to be found throughout the stages, but there’s also the sensible inclusion of speed run and time trial modes (complete with leaderboards and ghost downloads), which encourage players to perfect their runs through entire chapters or chunks from the game, respectively. If you’re not interested in such a feature to extend the longevity of your games however, its brevity will perhaps be a major issue.
Mirror’s Edge has an emphasis on platforming, resulting in a refreshing experience that is intense, exhilarating and occasionally frustrating. But the good certainly far outweighs the bad and even after another messed up jump, it’s still always immensely enjoyable to play, which says a lot for the game’s high level (in more ways than one) of quality.