With all these video game posts recently, I’m starting to wonder if this blog is going to turn into one about games reviews instead of Figures!!

In my defence, this period has been really crammed full of interesting and great games, which is surprising considering this time last year was rather lacking in titles for myself. And I didn’t even write review for all of them! I cut out LittleBigPlanet (really fun and well made, shame that the public are ignoring it in favour of guns and violence in their games. but what do you expect?), Dead space (not a single original idea save for the dismemberment mechanic but still ok), Persona 3 FES (it’s like crack), Yakuza 2 (mini shenmue) and rockband 2.
but for those wanting more figure stuff, don’t worry, things will get back to normal soon.

In fact, I think the only other game i’m interested in is left 4 dead. I was thinking about the last remnant but decided to be a good guy and wait for the PS3 version. but in any case, here’s my thoughts on a very hyped up title, Mirrors Edge!

I first played this game at the Eurogamer expo and felt that it was interesting but lacked a level of longevity to it, like it would get dull too quickly. In the end, it was voted as the game of the show, above (in my opinion) more worthy games like Left4Dead and Killzone 2.  but that was just a Demo so maybe the full game would end up better.

For those not in the know, this game is a first person platformer which tries to replicate the activity known as parkour or free running. The idea is to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible using just the environment and your body. To make things easier, objects which can be used to jump from area to area are painted red so you know where to go.
Combat is present in the game but discouraged. Your attacks are limited to punches and kicks (although you can combine them with actions like wallrun to make them more effective) and a single button disarm technique which requires a timed press. There’s also a slo-mo button to make disarming easier. Once disarmed, you gain access to the enemys weapons but they hold a severely limited amount of bullets, to discourage going Rambo on anyone.

As luck would have it, I found myself in posession of a copy over the weekend and decided to have a go. Reviews on games magazines and websites have reviewed mirrors edge already and almost all of them say the same thing, the game is like Marmite. You will either love it or hate it and there are plenty of reasons why either side is correct in the argument. As for myself, plant me firmly in the “hate” section…

LOVED:

  • The feeling of parkour: The game is never better than when you see the path in front and you traverse obstacles quickly and smoothly. You really feel the game pick up pace and the momentum behind your movement so you really don’t want to stop.
  • The Graphical style: The graphics themselves are not really anything to talk about compared to other games, but the use of bright colours and minimalist look really does look great. The developers, DICE, have managed to make a style which looks original and  stylish.
  • The music: well, some of it at least. Again, when on the rooftops, the music does a very good job of keeping you calm while still urging you to move forward.

HATED:

  • Everything else!!!!!!! Ok, I guess I should break it down…
  • The combat: Despite being told by the game not to engage enemies in combat, it then forces you into situations where you have no other choice and it becomes clear that the developers really didn’t think things through.
    Firstly, the game has no lock on system. That makes sense for the Parkour bits but when performing a slide kick which pushes you past the enemy, you wish you had it so you could turn around quickly and continue your attack instead of being hit from behind while you look for him and die. The disarm system is also very much broken as it’s very much a hit&miss affair. On more than one occasion, I saw the enemy weapon pass through my characters hands to land a hit on me where, chances are, I will become stunned and then die.
  • The game is very linear: And that pretty much flies in the face of the concept of parkour. While it replicates the rush of jumping and traversing obstacles, you can only go on the routes which the developers decided. They do provide different routes, but their impact is negligible and it’s more akin to just deciding if you want to go left or right. Once your choice is made, the path is fixed once again.
  • Pixel perfect jumps: Never thought I would say that in this day and age. Since you cannot adjust your position in the slightest while in the air, you have to make sure that you line up your jumps perfectly, esp if you need to grab something like a ladder or pipe at the end of it. you will probably fall to your death in more than a few situations simply because you were a little bit too far left or right. and by a little bit, I mean you can see the point on your screen but since it’s not dead center, you don’t grab.
  • The controls: sometimes the inputs just don;t come out. You want to jump but you don’t. And, if you haven’t guessed yet, usually, it means you die.
  • The plot and cutscenes. The scenes between levels were just ugly as sin and the plot may as well not have been there. The ending also had no closure in the slightest. There’s talk that mirrors edge will be part of a trilogy. They may want to sack the scriptwriter if they do another one.
  • The game length: this game is really short. I clocked it over a weekends worth of play, and that includes the time it took for a friend to complete it also!!

The thing about Mirrors edge is that it’s almost like it’s 2 games. On one hand, we have the parkour sections which are fun and really gets you going for the perfect run but is marred by some really frustrating elements. And on the other hand, we have the combat sections which are just crap. I can see why some people will leap to the games defence but I just cannot excuse the problems which the game presents to the player.

It’s linear to a fault. You have no free choice to tackle problems as you want, you MUST take the route specified by the creators or you will not progress. It’s that simple. And if you couldn’t tell from the points above, you will die in this game, a LOT!!!
Which brings me to the one biggest flaw of mirrors edge. In the end, due to the linearity of the levels and the number of deathtraps present, the game eventually becomes nothing more than an exercise in trial and error. You try and fail, only to come back and try again to do the same thing until you get it right. A mechanic not seen for a very very long time and with good reason. DICE tried to give us something new and fresh by trying something different with the first person genre but instead simply resurrected an old form of game design which was better off left dead and undisturbed…

My only consolation is the fact that I completed the game without having to pay a penny for it. If I had, I would have felt cheated and would have taken the game back.