Mirror's Edge (2009) Review
I really want to love Mirror's Edge. I love the innovative concept. I love the game's look and its style. I love everything about it except for playing it. Mirror's Edge can't quite pull it all together and what should be an enjoyable game (and is at times, albeit only in small bursts) is far too often frustrating to play.
Mirror's Edge is set in a gleaming, near utopian city, but unfortunately the glue that holds it all together is a police state-like city government. A resistance network exists in the city and its communications are carried by couriers who move from rooftop to rooftop in the city's endless sea of skyscrapers. You play as one of these couriers, known as runners, named Faith, whose personal stake in the resistance is significantly increased when her sister is framed for the murder of a mayoral candidate who promised to reform the tightfisted government of the city.
As a runner you possess the skills of a world class gymnast and the urban environment among the city's skyscrapers is your gym. Chain link fences, cat walks, air conditioning duct work, high tension wires, and just about everything else you see can be used to vault, slide, and shimmy your way from building to building on your way to your appointed rendezvous point. Time is always of the essence, even when you're not being actively pursued and shot at, so you need to always keep running and try to seamlessly string together your jumps, faults, and slides so that you avoid breaking your momentum. When it works, it really works, and the feeling of speed and athleticism is both incredible and exhilarating. Unfortunately, it rarely works that way.
One of the biggest issues is that the game's open world appearance is merely an illusion. Even though the city stretches as far as you can see, there's only one predefined path that you can take through each level and it's often difficult to determine where that path lies. Because of this inherent difficulty, the game provides you with a couple of navigational aids, but neither works consistently well. The first is a button that will point your view in the direction that you need to head, but it often points you in the direction of a distant way point, leaving you still guessing as to the direction you need to go next in order to get there. The other navigational aid is called "runner vision" and highlights the next object that you need to interact with in bright red. However this is not implemented consistently. In some instances you can see an object turn red from a distance, and in others an object won't turn red until you're right on top of it. There are also plenty of times when nothing at all turns red, leaving you guessing as to what to do next. Runner Vision is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it's a constant reminder that you're not free to stray from your preordained path and on the other it can be difficult to find that path without it.