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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-22-08, 12:29 AM Thread Starter
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Default Mirrors Edge - My Review

Mirror's Edge, EA's newest game and newest IP, can be described as the gaming equivalent of a Double Quarter Pounder from McDonalds:
1. It looks quite appealing
2. Looks like it has a lot of substance, but it really doesn't.
3. Makes you slightly sick after indulging in it.

Mirror's Edge is an action-adventure game focusing on Faith, an asian woman who is a 'Runner', a person who delivers illicit goods to a variety of people. When her sister is framed for the murder of a mayoral candidate, Faith steps in and tries to clear her sister's name. Faith gets around the city by using Parkour, also known as 'free-running'. For reference, a wikipedia article on the subject can be found here.

Mirror's Edge takes place in a city under the strictest totalitarian control - if you've read the book '1984' then you'll understand what i mean.
The city itself is unnaturally clean and bright - there is so much white brick that at times you'll have to squint your eyes to avoid the glare. the Unreal Engine works wonders here - with a minimum of characters onscreen at one time the detail of each character can be taken up a notch or seven.

Levels consist of a series of rooftops linked by walkways, scaffolding, gaps and all sorts of other industrial/building-ey objects, and even without the 'Runner Vision' (which is basically a "Because you are obviously too stupid to work out where to go here is the way your are supposed to go, take my hand and say goodbye to the fun of the game", but more on that later... actually no, that about covers it, but thank god you can turn it off) it is very easy to pick out the path or paths that the developers have made for each level. I thought parkour was about freedom? where's my bloody freedom?
failure to jump onto the exact right spot of an object linking one building to another will inevitably lead to maybe 3 or 4 seconds of watching your character fall to the ground with a lovely squishing and snapping sound, followed by restarts about 5 minutes of work back in the level.
A note to EA, or anyone attempting to make games: Trial and Error mechanics are the quickest way to have a casual gamer come and stick a butter knife between your second and third vertebrae. or maybe a soup spoon. there are a lot of people at EA, so it's not like i only have one choice as to which one...

Back on topic - There have been a lot of reports of gamers experiencing motion sickness when playing this game. in an attempt to remedy this:

In order to address the issue of simulation sickness that is associated with the free movement of the camera in first-person view, a small reticle was placed in the center of the screen, though this is not apparent from the first video released because it was removed from the in-game footage shown. The reticle serves as an aiming point and as a focal point to prevent the player from experiencing dizziness, working in a similar fashion to the dance technique called spotting. (Quoted from Wikipedia)

You know what colour they made this reticle? WHITE. in the midst of all the bleached concrete and bloom effects, they made it WHITE.
I've been more or less immune to motion sickness since i was a young boy (with a few notable exceptions) but even so i could feel the Nurgling of motion sickness quietly sneaking up on me, and no amount of drinking water and 10-minute breaks every hour (no, seriously, i did this for the first time in 15 years of gaming) could keep it away. in the end, all it did was make me slightly queasy, but still it was a bit frustrating to have that interruption. I don't like being reminded of my own flawed squishyness. That said, when the movement works, IT WORKS. it's a great feeling being able to run and leap from building to building and running effortlessly around guards and electric fences and helicopters with mounted miniguns trying to shoot you off buildings.

And now, onto combat. I get the feeling EA added this so that gore-fiend console players would have something to do in between all the running and jumping, and all of those people are going to be rather disappointed. Combat is pretty damn lethal - two pistol shots is usually enough to bring you down on the Medium difficulty, so i assume a stiff wind is enough to kill you on Hard. The game forces you to get rid of enemies as quickly as possible, by wailing on them, disarming them, shooting them, or, if you are a sadist like me, PUSHING THEM OFF BUILDINGS. Call me evil if you like, but i see the panic in their eyes as they realise the situation they are in and a little part of me giggles and says "Do it again!". Disarming is an absolute pain - you have to wait for this red flash on the weapon, and then you press the Y button to grab their weapon and wail on them with the butt of it. the only problem with this is that if you bugger it up then they belt you one, and while you are still reeling you get a face full of lead.
Add to this that one of the bosses can only be defeated through this mechanism, and you can see why my controller has teeth marks on it.

Finally, longevity. I played Mirror's Edge for about 3 hours before i got sick of it (quite literally) and exchanged it for Left 4 Dead (which i will review another day). In that 3 hours i'd gotten through about half the story missions, and without any option to go exploring i wasn't too happy with paying $100 for 6 hours. sure, if i was hiring a bodyguard of the female kind that would be great value, but not for a game.
You can redo all the levels in a time trial, but even so this game will take all of about 10 hours out of your life.

This is a game that will divide the gaming community down the middle. I know people who loved it, and i got sick of it pretty quickly (pun intended).
If there was ever a game that emphasised the advantages of renting games from your video store, then this would be it.

Next week: Far Cry 2 or Left 4 Dead (still deciding which one to do next).

On the subject of Rat Ogres:
But if we give them laser eyes and mounted guns, we'll have to bring in Clan Skryre, and everyone knows how much those limp-tailed snuff addicts overcharge.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-22-08, 12:25 PM
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I was wondering how this game would pan out for folks as it seemed too...gimicky. While I admit it looks cool enough there has been something bugging me about it when watching the trailers that you finally confirmed to me: the need to follow the routes provided instead of the freedom to find your own. That will take the game from free form adventure to a rail ride. I will probably rent this one but not buy it.

one thing I want is the ability to split my fire everywhere, it makes no sense that a squad of 10 guard or marines or whatever all have to fire at 1 target with everything, is the guy with the lascannon not smart enough to realize maybe he would be better off firing at the massive tank looming overhead instead of the little man no bigger than a squat running at him, or is that far too complex for the 10yr olds?

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-22-08, 01:12 PM
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Thanks fo rthe detailed review of the game! +rep for taking the time to do it.
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