Mirror's Edge review
Available for
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher
Electronic Arts
Mirror's Edge

Reviewed by Jason Thompson

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n the months leading up to its release, Dice Studios’ creation dubbed “Mirror’s Edge” received a hell of a lot of hype, coupled with the usual amount of anticipation that goes along with such lip service. The game was going to reformat the First Person Shooter genre, giving gamers a whole new way of seeing the world from behind the eyes of a video game heroine. New game physics were going to come into play and be a big part of the experience, adding a new layer of immersion. So now that the game is out, did the end result meet the hype? Of course not, but “Mirror’s Edge” is still a lot of fun to play and does add enough new things to the FPS mix to make any future installments well worth anticipating.

In this game, you play Faith. Faith is a “Runner.” Runners are basically rogue couriers in some future time who make their deliveries above the city streets, hopping from roof to roof, scaling walls and swinging from poles with deft agility. Basically it’s the whole “free running” sport brought to life in a game, though notched up considerably in the extreme department. At any rate, Faith’s sister has recently been framed by some unknown forces behind a sinister plot called Project Icarus. Faith and her fellow Runners are now being sought after by every Blue (that is, policeman) in the city as well as those related to Icarus. It’s up to Faith to find out who’s behind all the shenanigans while leaping, climbing, running, and even shooting her way through plenty of bad guys in the process.

But know that “Mirror’s Edge” is basically an FPS game that doesn’t rely on the “S” part of that acronym for a good 95 percent of the time. The developers at Dice wanted to give gamers a new experience, focusing more on acrobatic maneuvers and speed rather than firepower. To this end, they have succeeded, allowing Faith’s extraordinary Runner skills to get her out of the tightest of jams usually without firing a shot. There are a couple instances in the game where guns are necessary, but for most of the time, quickness and physical prowess are the keys to survival.

A tutorial at the beginning of the game introduces the player to all of Faith’s abilities. At first, they can seem a little confusing, but after you’ve put them in action a good 10 times or so, it soon feels like second nature. Faith can run along the sides of walls, leap from great heights and quickly land in a rolling motion, slide under low obstacles, shimmy herself along the narrowest of ledges both with her hands and feet, swing herself from poles and plenty more. Hand to hand combat is also part of the game, along with a slow motion action that can come in handy when disarming an enemy.

Basically, when you see red, you’ve found the next part of your goal. Faith’s world is full of objects colored red, such as pipes, ramps, walls, etc., that guide the way through the game’s chapters. Some critics may contend that this puts the game on rails, but in my experience it took nothing away from enjoying it. In many instances, it’s good to know where you’re going, and if you like, you can change the difficulty so that the red objects look like everything else, and you can figure out the patterns through the landscape yourself. Pressing the “hint” button will also point Faith in the direction she’s supposed to be heading without giving too much away.

The best part of “Mirror’s Edge” is definitely pulling off the acrobatic tricks. More than once I found my muscles clenching in my arms and legs as I flung Faith through the air to a neighboring rooftop or a tiny ledge. If anything, this is a very exhilarating game, both mentally and physically, as you can certainly feel the tension build when playing. It’s sort of like when you’re on a roller coaster you’ve never been on before, and you feel that anticipation of climbing the first big hill waiting for that big, fast drop into everything else that follows. “Mirror’s Edge” is a rush, a video game thrill ride, even, that excels where many other games that are supposed to be thrill-inducing (like any number of fast racing titles) fail. At its heart, “Mirror’s Edge” has taken a big bite from the “Tomb Raider” book of action when it comes to its use of the body, but made it much smoother, much faster, and completely exciting.

Cut scenes are rendered beautifully and stylistically with cel-shaded animations. The story seems almost secondary to the main action, but it’s strong enough to pay attention to. Where the game will divide players is in its trial and error puzzles. As the game progresses, Faith will find more and more areas where she’ll have to think out how she’s going to get from point A to point B, sometimes while being peppered with bullets. There were a couple places in the game that took me almost 20 times to get through before I succeeded. Sometimes it was frustrating, but unlike other games that get that way from time to time, I felt compelled to do it till I got it right. And when I did succeed at a difficult area, the feeling of satisfaction was great.

Other than that, the only thing to really say is if you’re looking for an FPS game in the traditional sense, you’re not going to find it here. What you will find, however, is a game that looks cool, offers a new set of rules to revamp a favorite genre, and enough action to literally make you hold your breath at times. It’s not often a game can cause a consistent adrenaline rush, but “Mirror’s Edge” can be counted amongst those that do. Definitely a keeper.

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