First Impressions: Mirror’s Edge

Innovation can be a double-edged sword in the gaming world.  On the one hand, you have gamers constantly clamoring for something new & interesting, but when presented with the opportunity, & under limited resources, most people will choose what’s comfortably familiar.  The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t, after all.  So when a new IP comes out, you’ll often see the consumer unwilling to spend their limited resources on something that might not be worth it.  So the new IP isn’t given a chance, the publisher looses money, & makes them less likely to fund new projects in the future, instead choosing concepts that have made them money in the past.  Thus, we create a vicious cycle.

Mirror’s Edge is one such foray into the uncharted, that probably turned a lot of people off based on the overarching concept.  Free-running (or parkour, if you so choose) has been done in games before, but rarely from the first-person perspective.  While the idea has a lot of merit, because what better way to immerse a gamer in the game world than having them experience from the PC’s perspective, it’s essentially platforming from first-person — something which is notorious difficult.  Even more so when the game requires you to keep moving & reacting, rather than planning your route.

I actually find the idea of free-running interesting but impractical.  For one, it requires you live in an urban environment, & even then I’m not sure it’s a viable means to get around.  I keep thinking to my own city & seeing there’d be no way to jump from building to building like that when every block or so there’s a parking lot to break up the flow, or a skyscraper that towers over the surrounding businesses to the extent that jumping off the top (assuming you could even reach it without a helicopter) would be the same as suicide.  I don’t know; maybe places like Tokyo or New York are dense enough for it.

I find myself having mixed feelings about my experience with Mirror’s Edge so far.  I like the concept of the game.  Free-running can be quite exhilarating… if the game would actually let me do it.  It seems like the developers keep trying to stop me from getting immersed.  The game talks about the flow of the city, following the natural path of the buildings, but too often I’m having to stop to see where I need to go next, or dying, or running into enemies I have to fight unarmed.  It breaks me out of the immersion like running face-first into a brick wall.  It’s very easy to fall into the flow of the game, I just wish it would leave me alone & let me run.  But, as mentioned, first-person platforming is dicey.  I’ve died quite a bit, mostly from misjudging jumps or getting shot.  And does the game have to show me hitting the ground?  Can’t it just tell I’ve missed the ledge & instantly port me back to the last checkpoint?  After the fifth time, it grates on my patience.  I also wish Faith was a bit faster about climbing up onto ledges or turning to look for the next jump.

The combat is definitely the worst offender.  I wouldn’t mind it so much if, again, it didn’t break the flow.  The game tries to make it out like you can swiftly move from one enemy to the next, but in reality that doesn’t happen.  The game throws too many enemies in a confined space at you.  I don’t have time to stand around waiting for the prompt to disarm an officer when his two buddies are firing automatic weapons at me.  So my usual strategy is to slide-kick into them then punch them while they’re stunned.  I think it would’ve been better if they did away with the combat all together & just let you run from the enemies.  Sadly, more often than not you have to clear the area to progress.

As for the story… it’s serviceable.  I get what’s going on.  My only real problem is I don’t get what’s so bad about the government.  Aside from making the city sterile, it hasn’t explained why The Runners have to exist, or why the government cares what they do.

I’ve heard the game isn’t that long (probably longer if I keep dying) so I don’t think it’ll take me long to finish & have my final review up.

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– GamerDame

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