I really really wanted to love Mirror’s Edge.
I was sold by the original announcement â€” the pounding footprint EA logo, Lisa Miskovsky’s beautiful Still Alive, the bright colors and parkour-inspired gameplay… Here it was, EA’s big moment of redemption, part of their let’s make something new campaign, an opportunity to show that they could add to the art of video games, that, alongside Dead Space, they weren’t just sitting creatively idle, churning out sequel after sequel.
Unfortunately, the game is a mess.
There’s a core of greatness buried in Mirror’s Edge, and for that alone it’s worth exploring, but the brief moments of awe are surrounded by tedium and frustration. The setting is fantastic â€” an urban romp through a colorful dystopian landscape â€” but the joy of exploration falls apart in the level design itself. I’ll accept the forced trial and error gameplay, but when combined with an imperfect contextual control scheme and widely scattered save points, the results were brutal. Many times I’d find myself elated to have crossed some difficult hurdle, only to screw up down the road and be thrown back to well before the tough bits, destroying the pleasure of progress and ratchetting up the aggravation meter. While some of the level layouts simply felt half-baked, thoughtful checkpoint placement might have lessened some of the duress. Yeah, the price would be a reduction in the overall challenge (and already short game length), but for a title that shines brightest when the player is in the flow, leaping over obstacles and along rooftops, it would’ve been a welcome tradeoff.
As I played through the game, I was hoping that the story, penned by Rhianna Pratchett, would be gripping enough to lure me through points of struggle, but the plot was ultimately another mundane enclosure for gameplay requirements, lacking the characterization, unpredictability, and oomph that a well-crafted tale displays.
Particularly mood-breaking were the cutscenes. With such a lush and beautiful in-game environment, why on earth did DICE resort to using a series of Flash-based segments? I’m guessing a lack of cinematic tools or a time crunch led to the decision, but man, was it a bad one.
Anyway, after all this bitching, would it be wrong of me to say that I’m looking forward to the sequel?
+ Overall, a beautiful sense of style & art direction.
+ Novel, sometimes elegant control scheme.
+ Ooh, another great soundtrack.
– Lousy save point distribution leads to seriously frustrating repeats.
– The cut scenes… why?
– Argh, I haven’t played a more frustrating game in years.
– Solidly mediocre story. I was expecting more.
Final grade: C-