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Thursday, March 12, 2009

First Impressions: Mirror's Edge

I played a demo for Mirror's Edge on my 360 a while back. I was already sold on the game before the demo hit the Marketplace. My hands-on experience with the game only hardened my resolve to buy and place Mirror's Edge. When it finally came time to buy Mirror's Edge, I was too busy enjoying Fallout 3 to make any new game purchases.

Fast-forward to a couple nights ago. I'd just traded in my Nintendo DS Lite and a few games at my local EB Games (a.k.a. GameStop). I typically buy and sell games using eBay but I figured EB might be better for off-loading my DS since the touch-screen had a small "Elite-Beat-Agents"-induced scratch. I got a total of $110 of credit for my unwanted Nintendo stuff so I took a few minutes to look at the PS3 games on the shelf. Lo and behold, a copy of Mirror's Edge was just sitting there at an affordable price of $40. I grabbed myself a copy, along with Mercenaries 2 for $20, and headed home.

Last night was the first night that I really got to sink my teeth into Mirror's Edge. And it's fantastic! It's not a first-person shooter nor is it really an action game. I'd categorize Mirror's Edge as a first-person puzzle game. You play as Faith, a runner in a utopian city of the future. Runners are basically delivery people who move packages quickly and discretely across the rooftops of the city. Runners are more-or-less criminals in the sense that they are breaking the law; however, "rebels" might be the more appropriate term given the possible corruption of city officials and high-ranking police officers. I don't know enough about the story to eloborate any more on the game's background and setting.

Mirror's Edge's graphics and sound are both top-notch. I really like the artistic styles used to present the city itself. The clean white of the buildings peppered with splashes of billboards' blues and oranges looks fantastic. And the bright red of pipes, planks, and other environmental objects lit up by Faith's runner vision looks stunning against a backdrop of white stone and blue sky. Cutscenes are presented in stylized animated films instead of being presented within the in-game engine. Some might say that it was a bold choice to go the "cartoon" route given the prevalence of in-game cutscenes found in most other retail games but D.I.C.E. pulls it off wonderfully despite what some critics say. Everything about this game screams style and I'm very, very impressed after only a few chapters of play.

In terms of gameplay, Mirror's Edge is great. Manoevering Faith along the rooftops and through buildings is fun, exciting, and surprisingly easy. The game's controls are nicely designed and easy to use. That's not to say the game itself is simple: far from it. Much of my early gameplay experience involved Faith falling off buildings and ledges as I desperately sought a way past the game's many obstacles. There is a lot of trial and error gameplay but that's the nature of puzzle games. You have a goal in mind, you plot a course, and see if it sticks. And though it's easy to die, there's something quite satisfying about figuring out how to get Faith to her destination and performing the necessary cityscape acrobatics to get the job done.

As for the gripes about Mirror's Edge's fighting mechanics, I don't see the need for concern right now - though I'm told that the last few chapters have an unhealthy focus on combat. Fighting in Mirror's Edge is tough. It's supposed to be tough. Faith is a runner and not a fighter. One on one against a Blue or SWAT member, Faith is a clear favourite to win the bout. A few punches or a quick disarm using Faith's slow-mo runner time is enough to put down any opposition. Of course, things get quite a bit trickier when facing multiple opponents. In the few times that I've come up against overwhelming force, I found it quite easy to avoid conflict and do what Faith does best: run!

I honestly can't say enough good things about Mirror's Edge. And I'm not the only one! Check out the video reviews that I've embedded for you below.

Mirror's Edge is game innovation at its finest. I urge all gamers to give this game a try. If you don't own a copy, why not pick one up for your Xbox 360 or your PlayStation 3? You'll thank me for it!

Have a great day!