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MIrror’s Edge

Somewhere in my parent’s basement sits the tower of our old PC. On it’s ancient 1gb hard drive is Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight with a saved game on a forgotten level where a jumping puzzle exists. This would be the point of the game that I never could get past, the game is ancient now and the stumper was something that still plagues me now.

So I was a bit reticent when a new demo arrived on XBOX Live for a first person jumping game called Mirror’s Edge. The local news station did a quick review of it, which compelled me to download the demo. Then I received the game for my birthday.

The problem with any first person perspective game is the complete lack of peripheral vision, this is what makes jumping puzzles in first person games so frustrating. You pretty much have to guess when the ground ends. Why else do you think that none of the Tomb Raider games are done in that perspective?

Mirror’s Edge was a gamble for me. I knew that my opinion of the game was going to go in one of two extremes: I would either completely hate it or I would completely love it. Thankfully it was the latter, I would hate squandering my birthday on something I detested.

You play Faith, a woman who is a runner. Runners, are like the mnemonic couriers in Johnny Mnemonic, they transmit information that cannot be broadcast due to the strict government monitors. They work on the rooftops running across them like fictional ninja in some cliche anime movie. The game boils down to a “get from here to there without getting killed” as most games are.

What separates Mirror’s Edge is in how one gets there. You have to run, jump, and slide through realistic obstacles while being pursued by a police force not looking for an arrest. The game is innovative in that it relies solely on travel and not on combat which means that play control is going to be the utmost important.

Thankfully they succeeded. While one button does most of the work, you get an intuitive feel for the jumping, sliding, wall running; thus sending Faith through the streets and rooftops of the unnamed city as though it was completely flat ground. The game aids you by highlighting terrain features in bright red which tells you that the object in question can be climbed, vaulted, or balanced. This is what makes a game that could have been quite impossible, difficult but possible.

While the programmers knew that movement was key they also added a combat feature that obviously took second seat. The game’s largest fault lies in this. Faith is a runner not a fighter and this is very apparent when you come across enemies that you can’t evade. She has no gun, only her fists, which require you to get quite close as the hit detection must be within a foot for you to do anything. There are some moves: like wall run flip kicks that can do some damage but for the most part your combat involves disarming someone and then shooting.

The game looks great. It has a unique appearance that allows a clear perspective on the entire cityscape and really showcases the distances that you must cover. I have climbed on top of tall ledges and looked back thinking of the enormity of the game. Although it can be a bit linear in some places, the path you take is mostly up to you as long as you are travelling in the right direction.

Overall I recommend the game, it’s fun, has replay value, and despite it’s sometimes frustrating boards is a well done achievement for first person jumping puzzles. Maybe I will have to dig up that old hardrive one of these days.

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Categories: video game review
  1. February 23, 2009 at 6:31 am

    Thanks for this entry, I’ve been thinking about picking this up for a while now and you might have convinced me. I’m a sucker for games with fresh ideas.

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