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Quick review: Mirror’s Edge

Faith from Mirror's Edge

I just finished playing Mirror’s Edge this morning on my PC. I bought the game late last year through Steam when it was on sale. It came out early last year with much fanfare, but the game was a mixed commercial success. It has an 81% Metacritic score, though, with slightly less for the console versions.

The story revolves around a twentysomething Asian girl named Faith. She lives in a city or country dominated by a totalitarian regime with an iron fist grasp on communications and travel in the city. So, in order to get packages and messages, folks who would rather their business remain unknown to the city utilize couriers on foot, called “runners,” of which Faith is one. She’s employed by a runner named Mercury, who trained her after her parents were killed in some riots protesting the totalitarian regime. Celeste is a coworker of Faith who is a little shady. Faith’s sister is a cop who gets framed for the murder of a prominent businessman and rising politician—a candidate for a hotly contested mayoral race against incumbent Callaghan.

The game follows Faith as she rescues her sister, Kate. Another cop, Miller, is a friend and protector of Kate, but he pretends that he’s in on it in order to save Kate.

The game is absolutely beautiful. It’s honestly one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played on PC.

Mirror's Edge screenshot

I think the screenshot might be from the Xbox 360 version, but it looks even better on PC or PS3—I’ve played it on both.

The general gameplay dynamic is running, jumping, sliding, ducking, and falling. Frantically. Everywhere. It’s more of a first person running/falling game than a first person shooter. There are a few occasions where guns are available and arguably necessary. It’s possible to disarm baddies, but it’s difficult without the use of the “bullet time” feature of the game.

The controls were easy, but some of the moves necessary to climb to great heights (wall jumping, primarily) are difficult to pull off even after some practice. The soundtrack of the game is almost worth the cost alone. If I can find a way to extract the music from the game, I’ll be listening to it quite frequently. It’s upbeat yet relaxing ambient new age stuff, if you’re into that kind of music during coding or typing or something.

Unfortunately, the game was, well, short. Very short. Steam says that I played it for six hours. I know there was one area in which I spent nearly an hour trying to figure out how to walljump to where I needed to get to. That means that this game, if played by someone with quicker reactions and better timing, could likely be complete in 3-5 hours. That’s not worth the $50 it was when it came out. It was worth the ~$7 I paid for it. Hearing the soundtrack, I’d have paid $15-$20 for it.

My other complaint was that the story was very shallow. I think this is primarily because of its length, or lack thereof. I didn’t get attached to any of the characters, despite my compassion for their plight.

Celeste

I think that Mirror’s Edge would make a great movie, though. The action is sporadic enough and could likely be condensed to be a two hour film. I think that Devon Aoki could play Faith, with Malin Ackerman as Celeste, Eric Bana or Byung-hun Lee as Jacknife (depending on the which concept they follow), and Hugo Weaving, James Marsden, or Billy Bob Thornton as Miller. I’m undecided on the portrayal of Mercury or Ropeburn, but I think Vin Diesel could be the former and Michael Clarke Duncan as the latter. Yeah, I know Ropeburn’s white, but MCD would rock in the part, just like he did as Kingpin in Daredevil.

Movie dreams aside, I classify Mirror’s Edge as a decent game if you can get it under $20. It’s worth a play through, even if just for the beautiful graphics and soundtrack.

Update, 21 May 2010: I neglected to mention that a part of what spurred me to write this after playing the game was an Escapist article entitled Stumbling Through Mirrors’ Edge. It’s a great look into how the game is confusing overall, and how it could have been incredible. I agree with most of the sentiments, but still liked the game.

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