Sunday, August 28, 2022

Mirror's Edge (PC) Review

I finished this game on Friday, September 25, 2009, 7:39:00 PM. This review was first published on GameSpot on November 1, 2009.

Mirror's Edge is a first person running game developed by DICE. You play as Faith, a free runner. The story is set in a modern utopian society with a totalitarian government. Invasive surveillance is a part of life in this city and runners help exchange information between parties without getting caught.

Game play is the most admirable aspect, its not perfect but its very innovative and first of its kind. I was skeptical of how the game is going on handle, and it seemed baffling that DICE would not go the Prince of Persia route and make this a third person game. I remember there being a lot of talk in the press wondering why DICE are not making this a third person game. I am glad that DICE persisted with the first person perspective because Mirror's Edge is very unique.

Graphics can be stunning, some of the views from the tall buildings are beautiful and vertigo inducing. During the frantic chase sequences when there is a real rush to escape, vision tends to get a little blurry by the edges when leaping over rooftops and I could feel my stomach lurch forward at times. Playing this on my 24 inch monitor at 1920x1200 at highest settings with PhysX enabled is real treat. PhysX are supposed to be the selling point for PC version, but I did not find anything special about them - not that they are bad, but we have seen this in games all the way back to Max Payne 2.

I absolutely loved the soundtrack in this game. This ranks right up there with Halo for me. The theme song "Still Alive" by Lisa Miskovsky is now one of my favorite songs. Rest of the soundtrack includes some fast techno music which is perfect during free running segments. Voice acting is quite good as well. Sound is a very impressive aspect of this game.

On the flip side, Mirror's Edge can be frustrating in spite of DICE getting all the hard parts right. They made a game that handles free running extremely well. I never found the camera to be a problem and the controls on the PC are great. I loved the the chase sequences and getting the stunts right is not very difficult. The is hurt mainly by some intentional bad design choices - the scourge of all games. Weapons are extremely weak, it reminded me of Tomb Raider Legend and not in a good way - those of you who played it would know the reference, and melee combat is frustrating and unsatisfying. This only serves to break the momentum needlessly and seemed like an after thought. DICE have developed Battlefield games, so its not as if they are inexperienced in first person shooters, yet the gun play in Mirror's Edge is very inadequate. I would recommend playing the game on Easy setting to avoid the frustration of combat.

Also, the game is quite short. On Easy I finished the game in about 7 hours. For a free running game to be truly effective, it must have the feel of an open city where the game play is not restrictive. Mirror's Edge in this case is like a modern version of the old school platform adventures because most often, there is one and only one way of proceeding. I can understand that at times this might be necessary, but throughout the game, you will be in a huge city, which you cannot explore and the path is very linear - just like an old platformer. I also get the feeling that it could benefited from the no-death mechanic of Prey, Bioshock and Prince of Persia.

Puzzles in the game are fairly intuitive but there are places where the player can get stuck without a clue. I remember a couple of such instances. Thankfully, Xfire's in-game browser supports this game, and I could quickly log into Youtube for the video walkthrough. That said, the free running part is very well done, but there are always some needless breaks in the free flowing game play, and the linearity would impede this too.

My biggest complaint is the lack of realizing the full potential, reminds of Quake 4 in a way for not capitalizing on key moments.

I bought this game for $7.22 with shipping on Amazon and I also got an audio CD with the soundtrack, and for that money, it is well worth it. If I paid the full price though, I would be very disappointed. Anything around $15-$20 would be a good price. So if you can find it around that price, this is a must buy.

+ Free running is very well done
+ Visuals
+ Brilliant soundtrack
+ Decent story telling
+ Some segments are truly breathtaking
+ Tight controls

- Very weak combat
- Some puzzles break the momentum
- Short

Verdict: Buy it for around $20

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