Mirror's Edge (2008) Review
After a trip to a local game store a couple of weeks ago, I actually got pretty excited for Mirror's Edge, EA's new first person action game, a then-upcoming release. The kids behind the counter wouldn't stop talking about how "OMG Awwsommes" the game would be when it came out. I hadn't previously thought much about the game, but after the counter guy freak out and taking a chance on the demo, I started to get amped up. Now, after having played the game in its full version, I'm a bit disappointed with how it turned out. I'm not really sure where to start this review, as Mirror's Edge is a game that is both unbelievable and abysmal – at the same time. Now that's a combo you don't see every day!
It seems like gross oversimplification, and it probably is, but Mirror's Edge is probably best compared to last year's Assassin's Creed – except it is played in first person, not third and takes place in the future (sort of), not the past. So, totally different, right? On the surface, yes, but at the core, no. Both Assassin's Creed and Mirror's Edge, visual and story design aside, absolutely nail open world exploration and the feeling of freedom – at first. But after a few hours, the feeling of "whoa… I can do anything and go anywhere… and it's actually fun!" starts to lose its luster and the core game mechanics work their way to the surface. And they aren't pretty. In Assassin's Creed, the Wow Factor disappeared after you realized that as cool and fun as it was to scale the rooftops and escape guards, you were going to have to pickpocket, trail and assassinate guys, the exact same way, over and over (and over), until the game's "are we seriously supposed to buy this crap?" ending.
In Mirror's Edge, it takes a bit longer for the Wow Factor to wear off, but when it does, it shows the game to be a far bigger disappointment than Assassin's Creed's "rinse and repeat" mission structure ever was. When you start Mirror's Edge, you'll be treated to an opening cutscene that looks as though it was ripped right out of Killer7 or No More Heroes. Awesome! The game quickly begins and ditches the style in favor of a too bright, overexposed and shockingly bland faux-realistic cityscape. Not as cool, but still ok (and I'm sure to some, its an improvement over the animated cutscenes).
Even as you play through the training stage, the game still has a lot of promise. Once you get to the actual story levels, the game derails. The first major problem is that the game is supposed to be have a go anywhere, do everything thing going, but that is sadly not the case. I'll explain – as you run through the city and along the rooftops, you'll be able to use pieces of the environment the help out in your movement. These can range from ledges to ziplines to basically anything that you can imagine; all for use in getting away from enemies, and they are all pretty cool to see in action. The catch is that you can only use objects highlighted in red. This design choice destroys the free roam in the game, as the highlighted environment pieces often lead you directly to your next objective and give you little choice except for a some branching paths. Just imagine Assassin's Creed if you couldn't use every piece of the city to travel and you'll know what I'm talking about here. You may want to get to that next building, but until you find the highlighted object that can help you, forget about it.