Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Review: Mirror's Edge

Ya know, this game looked really cool after seeing some previews for it. Then I read giantbomb.com's review of it and they only gave it a 3 out of 5. So that meant ok, but not good or great. Sorta dimmed my enthusiasm a bit. It was like, yea this game might not be some perfect sphere of nirvana like Half-Life 2 or anything, but it's an innovative new game concept that really tried to breathe new life into the FPS genre, so why not give it the benefit of the doubt? Who else would think to take EA's bags of money and make a first person parkour game that almost totally avoids combat? That is the creation of either some madness, or some genius.

So it came out and I started playing it. And frankly, I dunno why giantbomb gave it a 3/5. This game is fucking fun. The sense of speed and adenaline from running over rooftops while sliding under pipes and walljumping from scaffolding is just amazing. That's what this game excels at, making you feel like an amazing athlete, some sort of freak Olympian who gets their kicks from stealing stuff and running away. The parkour is easily accomplished with the controls and viewing it from first person makes it much more immersive then a traditional third person camera would have.

The entire game has a nice sorta Ipod-ish aesthetic. It seems that in the city of the future, everything is clean and white, with some splashes of other colors. If you've ever watched the turd of a film called "Ultraviolet", then you'll recognize its look here. Very sterilized and cold... even the plants in the city are painted white for some reason heh. I suppose it's a new take on the futuristic city aesthetic though, compared to a lot of stuff in scifi games that're just ripped off from Blade Runner and Aliens.

So while I'm enjoying the game a lot, there are a few caveats. First off, I started playing the game last night. At the end of the session, I had completed the first four levels. There are nine levels in all. Yes, this game is not built for longevity. It is short. And no multiplayer, so all that's left is doing speed runs in the completed levels to try to top your last time. Obviously a factor if you're gonna go and buy this game for 60 bucks or whatever.

The combat's also lacking, since this isn't a game where you're meant to run and gun. You can use guns, but you have to first disarm a cop. Then, you'll only be able to shoot until the magazine runs out, you can't reload. So shooting it out isn't really encouraged. Also, your character Faith can only take a few shots, so you'll definitely need to run behind cover and wait for opportune moments to strike. If you do work at it, you can shoot it out with a SWAT team though. Just isolate one guy, disarm him, run to another guy, shoot him, grab his gun, and repeat, while trying not to catch too much lead. It's not ideal, and it's certainly much harder then just running for any exit, but it's doable. The hand to hand combat works for the weak police, they'll drop after 2 or 3 punches. But the SWAT guys in armor will just push you away, so hand to hand doesn't work on them. All in all, if you're looking for some sorta Matrix-style martial arts combat to match the game's parkour gameplay, you won't find it here.

Oh, and yea... the game cutscenes do resemble the Esurance cartoon commercials. But honestly... I always liked those commercials. Erin Esurance was hot. So that's not really a complaint for me.

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