From the moment the game opens, Mirror’s Edge presents a bright, colorful world to explore that is contrasted with the dark, seedy underbelly of political corruption. In a world where the Government has eradicated the majority of the population’s freedom, a small group of Runners (individuals skilled in the art of parkour) emerge to fight back and make an existence for themselves.
In Mirror’s Edge, you play as Faith.
Faith is a young woman who has joined the Runners in an attempt to escape the hell of living in a world without freedom or personal expression. She spends her days as a courier, delivering messages to revolutionary groups in the city. Delivering her messages on time and evading Blues (cops) is all in a day’s work for our heroine, but when her sister, Kate, (who happens to be a cop) is framed for the murder of a mayoral candidate, Faith is plunged into a world of political intrigue.
As you try to unravel the mystery around you, clear your sister’s name and fight back against the totalitarian system, you’ll encounter some terrific level design with a lot of eye-popping color and stay true to Faith’s occupation as a Runner and perform some of the most visually stunning (and awesome) parkour moves seen in gaming.
With the world of Mirror’s Edge being controlled by an oppressive Government, the majority of the city is painted in whites and grays. However, there are still splashes of color randomly strewn across the environment. The immense contrast between the bleak and the vibrant is one of the greatest decisions in art direction I’ve seen in a long time. While the environments are gorgeous to behold, the most important part of any game is the actual gameplay.
Mirror’s Edge plays in first-person, which gives an incredibly unique feel to the parkour elements. Running up walls, vaulting over pipes, sliding under rails…it all feels like you’re right there with Faith performing these maneuvers. Being in first person, you get some really cool glimpses as to what it must be like to actually perform parkour. With upwards movement being on one trigger and downwards movement on a nearby button, the mechanics are easy enough to pick up…but hard to master. It won’t be long before you’re pulling off awesome parkour combos and feeling like a pro, but sadly that feeling won’t last forever.
Here’s where one of my first complaints with Mirror’s Edge lies.
The inconsistency in the control scheme is extremely frustrating. There were countless times where I would be playing and having no issue whatsoever, only to attempt a stunt five minutes later and have it do something else entirely. The game demands an insane amount of precision and timing and being off by just the slightest inch or second can instantly mess up your plan of action. Some might argue that encountering these problems just mean you need to practice more, but the frequent occurrence of this happening (and I’m positive it wasn’t on my part) makes me have to disagree.
While the majority of the gameplay does revolve around the parkour mechanics, there is a small element of combat as well. You can punch and kick the enemies you encounter and even steal their firearms to shoot back at them. However, it’s a much safer bet to just evade your foes. In fact, that’s how the game is best played. You aren’t a battle-hardened soldier like most games on the market and it only takes a few bullets to put Faith down. Quickly running through the environment and taking cover is your best course of action.
Sadly, by the time you really start getting into the gameplay and begin to unravel the story elements of the campaign…it’s over. Mirror’s Edge is a shockingly short game and I managed to finish it in around 4 or 5 hours. With the exception of finding collectible bags hidden in the levels and completing the speed runs for each mission, there is little to no replay-value in this title. Which is a shame, because it’s obvious that there’s a lot of potential in this game and a couple of more hours added to the campaign would have greatly furthered the experience.
Mirror’s Edge is a game that’s good, but not great.
It has a gorgeous art style and an intriguing story, but the short campaign and inconsistent and frustrating controls ultimately detract from an otherwise worthwhile and enjoyable experience.
+ Beautiful art direction
+ Interesting storyline
– Short length
– Inconsistent controls
FINAL SCORE: 7.5/10
– Zack Burrows