Electronic Arts wants to start over on a clean sleeve and after the very well-received Dead Space it wants to continue this trend with Mirror’s Edge, the new product by Battlefield developer DICE. Is this the second new top franchise for EA or a one-time disaster? You read it below!
Mirror’s Edge is situated in the near future where the government has a lot more liberties than now. They control all information highways and if you want to send a message without the local government knowing it you’ll have to use so-called runners, athletic adrenaline junkies that physically transport messages over the rooftops of the town. You play one of those called Faith and what should have been a simple courier job quickly ends up in a manhunt for you and your friends.
What gets noticed at the start of the game is the absence of a HUD, or numbers and symbols that show how your character is doing at any given time. The only thing you see is a small dot in the center of the screen. Not that this matters much as the game is all about going from A to B in a way that makes you lose the least amount of time. The fun thing is that there are always different methods to get to a certain location. At first the stairway or a ladder may seem the most logical choice but often there are two or three other means to get up, one being more hidden than the other. It’s up to the player to find out which route is the fastest.
If you’re completely lost and don’t know where to go you can still push the Y-button which lets your character focus on a specific object in the environment. On a lower difficulty degree also several objects get colored red when you get near them to help you on your way. This option can be turned off on the higher difficulty degrees or just in the options menu so players that want some more challenge shouldn’t despair.
Just running from rooftop to rooftop would be kinda boring so DICE has added some bad guys who are after you with a lot of weapons in their hands. This doesn’t mean you only have to run away from them though, as Faith is all but helpless. When you get close to an opponent you can either knock him unconscious or disarm him but the latter can only be done at specific times during a fight and if it doesn’t work you’ll see Faith just kick the hell out of the guy. What you do with the weapon afterwards depends on your attitude. You can try to use it to kill other opponents or just toss it away. As there’s no info given on your screen regarding ammo and such you do have to be carefull not to run out of bullets in the middle of a fight.
If you’re a more peaceloving person you can simply focus on the running and overcoming obstacles. The more speed you have the easier your character will overcome them. When you for instance go slow you’ll crawl over a fence but when running hard you’ll see Faith jump over it with one hand. Another advantage of swiftly moving forward is that after enough tricks you’ll get the possibility to go into slow motion for a while which is handy if you need to make a jump that requires a perfect landing or have to disarm a difficult opponent.
Also pleasant is that Faith can do everything from the start. No unlogical evolution where you at first can’t do a double-jump but after two hours of playing you suddenly can. This is certainly not a bad thing as the abilities can constantly be combined in different ways to overcome the increasingly challenging level buildup. The locations you’ll visit consist for a large part out of rooftops of different buildings but at certain moments you’ll also enter the buildings themselves or even run on the street. The change in location will make that you constantly have to overcome new obstacles while at the same time give you enough variation in graphics.
Te game certainly doesn’t need all the power of the console and sometimes there are even graphical blunders due to bad textures that are way too blurry and have too many notches but you’ll quickly forgive them thanks to the atmosphere they breathe. Due to the bright colors everything feels quite sterile and like a utopia where everything is perfect. In other words the graphics perfectly fit with the storyline. The movies are animated and not made with the in-game engine but do add to the atmosphere and thanks to the specific style they bring some variation during loading of the next chapter.
The sound is good but not something you’ll remember when the game is mentioned later on. When you’re on the rooftops or run quickly you’ll hear the wind blowing around you and at certain times also some music comes into play – mostly when something goes wrong – which immerses you a bit more.
To increase the replayability time trials have been added as a multiplayer part. These are different maps where you need to go through certain checkpoints within a certain time frame. As with the single player you’ve got different ways to overcome obstacles and if you have problems to get a decent time you can download a ghost from another player through Xbox Live. You can then see his ghost finish the map and try to copy his route or improve it. The disadvantage here is that you’ll quickly find out what’s the fastest route which doesn’t go well with enhanced replayability.
Mirror’s Edge is a refreshing game but its biggest downpoint remains the limited replayability. It still remains a game that you certainly should give a try, simply thanks to the fluent controls and the great atmosphere it breathes.