Mirror’s Creed or was it Assasin’s Edge?

December 8, 2008 § 2 Comments

Mirror’s Edge, seemingly to be the game to take the 7th generation by storm and introduce a whole new kind of gameplay experience, is a dissapointment. EA’s beautifully innovative and unique first person parkour free-running game showed us glimpses of pure magic and had the gaming public licking their lips at the mere prospect of being able to play what was shown in front of them at full blast high definition at E3. That was the beginning. The hype and excitement generated by the first trailer always meant that from the top the only way to go was down. Then came the demo, which received mixed reviews from everyone alike. Seemingly hardcore die hard Mirror’s Edge fans (before release) were quick to defend and to say how the demo was a mere taster as demos should be. Big mistake number one. To keep an open mind is sometimes the hardest thing to do which is why I write this now, mere minutes after finishing this game for myself.

Where does the root of the problem lie? With innovation and originality, must follow execution of the highest calibre. Mirror’s Edge’s problem is that once you’ve seen the trailer and played the demo, there is nothing major you are left to experience. The demo it seems is actually the first chapter of the main storyline, which I found extremely lazy in terms of story telling. The tutorial, hand holding mission to introduce a story is a classic case of “Once Upon a Time…” so and so happened when you read the literacy book of an 8 year old. I’ll point you towards the direction of Bioshock which does the same thing but is an absolute pleasure to experience in terms of story telling. The neu-age 1984 style setting of a free running video game is a gem. You play as “Faith” who acts as a “runner” (someone who acts as an illegal courier) in this controlled totalitarian society and delivers such packages by scaling roof tops and jumping buildings. Faith has “runner vision” which literally highlights the things she can use to make her running more swift and flowing. The new bright alpine white against blue in this dictatorial society is indeed very arsty and pretty. The building interiors are so formal and contrasting, it gives this impression that this world has a front put on because it’s hiding something, a la Orwell’s 1984. Environmentally, the design team are to be applauded on ideas that obviously didn’t go to waste.

Why then in this wonderfully created world must the characters be so lifeless and generic? Why does the story begin and end lazily as if the whole game’s events were pointless? To be fair, the story is so poor the ending can’t do much to help it. The basis on which the game is introduced to you, falls through by the second chapter. The severe lack of personality in any of the characters really makes me wonder wether developers decided to miss out story all together in some kind of sacrifice for gameplay. Big mistake number two.

The gameplay reminds me throughly of Assassin’s Creed’s. Do you remember holding down R1 and X to do just about everything and anything when it came to getting to your destination? Imagine replacing that with periodacal tapping or holding down of L1. The first person view is honestly unfaulted and the flowing running, wall jumping misjudging distances and face planting 100 ft falls is actually fun however the developers seemed to have missed this concept slightly. Slowing down the game is the worst and most painful thing you can do with it which unfortunately happens too much in Mirror’s Edge. The frantic escapes and using your head in a supposedly non linear environment was the greatest appeal about this game. From first person heaven, it went to first person bore within almost an hour. Non linear is it not? Mirror’s Edge was introduced as a game that was meant to use quick wit. To get to your destination by your own means, supposedly providing more than just the single method of going from point A to B. Let me say this now. If you make a game linear but stick a few meaningless obstacles in the middle, you can’t make that claim. More often than not you find yourself truly stuck as to what you’re meant to do next. Some argue this is where the puzzle element kicks in however I strongly and avidly disagree. If that was the case, the game wouldn’t dedicate an entire button as a “hint” button to point you to your next direction. Big mistake number 3. The button is hardly ever useful. For example say you want to get to another building but you are unsure as to what you should do. Press the hint button and it will immediatly point the cursor as to where the building is in relation to where you are. Still don’t comprehend? You ask me how you can get to India, I respond by pointing to my left.

What positives do you expect from such a hyped up game? I could talk about the ruined soundtrack or the length of playtime, (which is so short you are actually grateful for it). The game does many ingenius things well though. The use of momentum to make jumps and the heavier breathing corresponding to Faith’s movements are all real advancements for all first persons alike. With every complement there is a, “yes but..” and here it is. Dice failed to come up with a way to move as humans do. We do not strafe if we are to move to the left. The running and escaping, when properly executed, will be the most fun you can have with a first person game. The controls are fairly tight but with touching on one thing, I must once again critise another. The combat is appalling. I finished this game without shooting a single enemy, (as I had the impression this game was meant to be played as). Now take Metal Gear Solid, a game rewards you and adapts to you for not killing. By the end of Mirror’s Edge however, Faith’s body was so bullet-ridden, I had the impression this game was either a racist or just extremely inconsistent.

The magic word. Inconsistent. Inconsistency drowns this game in every possible way and is the word to sum up what could have been. Dice it seems have the map for the Philosopher’s Stone of perfection in first person. However they decided to soak it in tea and rip it up a bit to make it look older and more like a pirate’s treasure map as 8 year olds do. Still they manage to almost get there, but half way to “almost” there, their metaphorical truck blows up, killing all common sense. What’s left is the dying, malnourished corpses of golden ideas and innovation. To assume the role of a courier, you would assume delivering packages are a main feature of the story? To take a shotgun shell to the face you would expect to die? Combat is the main feature that someone decided to soak in human excrement. For the last two chapters all the excitement you experienced in the first two chapters disappear. You have to die because EA doesn’t like you. In fact they never liked you. Let me give you a few tips if you are to play this game. When you are judging distances, keep in mind you can probably jump further than you think. Don’t bother understanding the story if you are lost/bored. What’s a good word to describe this? Inconsistent. Everything was set in place to be one of the best games of the lastest generation, but innovation it seems is not enough and here, it’s all it ever had.

– Sorry for the lack of activity, recently. James


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