Sunday, March 29, 2009

Late to the Party: Mirror's Edge

Lately I haven't been able to buy games as frequently as I'd like to.  New titles come out all the time and there's always something that appeals to me as a gamer.  But lately I haven't been able to swing the cash to buy games all the time so I've been able to go back and finish older titles or to replay games I really liked.

Over spring break I took the opportunity to play through Mirror's Edge again and it reminded me of how much I liked the game.  Thinking about it, I had never written a review.  So in a new column entitled "Late to the Party" I'll be reviewing or writing about anything I'm playing a little later than the general community.

Mirror's Edge caught my eye from the first I had heard about its development.  DICE does first person shooters very well, as evidenced by their work on the Battlefield series.  I was really interested to see something different being done with the first person perspective in games.  Plus I've always had this sort of passing interest in Parkour and free-running so a game based on that style of movement was especially attractive to me.

The campaign is really short.  Maybe too short for some people.  But one of my favorite games of all time is Starfox 64, a game you have to play through in one sitting for lack of a save file, so I didn't mind being able to blast through the story missions in about 4 hours.  I think that the first person perspective does a good job of conveying drama and action, but DICE implemented extra cutscenes, animated in a 2D style to play out what happens in the interim of the running and fighting you do as Faith.

The first person perspective works really well.  I remember when Halo 2 came out and it was this really big deal that you could see your own feet.  When playing Mirror's Edge you can tell that there was a lot of running around the halls of the office for the development team.  When running and jumping and vaulting over objects, where do your arms and feet come into vision?  It works.  It works so well in fact that you might experience motion sickness.

I really like the design of the game as well.  The aesthetic of the unnaturally clean city makes your struggle against it seem overwhelming.  The level design also plays into this, despite the clean city, there are plenty of construction sites for you to scale, and you'll be utilizing it a lot, vaulting and wall running over and off of paneling.

I will say that Mirror's Edge isn't for everyone.  There isn't a lot to the campaign, so the real value proposition is whether or not you'll get sucked into the time trials.  I know I have a tendency to restart everything as soon as a I make a mistake, so the time trials keep me coming back for more and more.

The last thing I'll say is that the music is great.  It maintains itself through out the entire game, it fits to every situation, and it rises and falls with your character and the progression through the level.  Are people shooting at you?  The music is intense and driving, pushing you to run as fast as you can.  Is the player trying to figure there way up several floors?  The music encourages you but doesn't stress you out.

Mirror's Edge is available on XBOX 360, PS3, and PC.

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