Wot I Think: Mirror’s Edge

By Alec Meer on January 20th, 2009 at 6:13 pm.

Here comes an awkward metaphor: Mirror’s Edge (the delayed PC version of which was finally released last week) is hiding in the closet. Unsurprisingly, this only makes life difficult for it. For every moment it pretends to be an FPS, it feels wrong, and to any onlooker it’s visibly uncomfortable in this assumed role. If only it would cast off this sham and reveal its true colours – well, then we’d have a game proud of itself. Mirror’s Edge is a racing game, but it doesn’t have the courage to admit it. Be proud, ME. Tell the world what you are, cry it from those rooftops you spend so much time gallivanting across: “I AM A RACING GAME!”

But it doesn’t, and it’s a coward for it. Certainly, it’s not the game we hoped it would be from those early shots of a vast, alabaster cityscape. For all the alluring Le Parkour theme, that white world of rooftops isn’t yours to explore. Instead, you have a course – a circuit you have to follow with relative exactitude. There’s some give and take and a few canny shortcuts, but really you’re always headed in one direction. While that makes for a broken dream or two, it’s not inherently a problem: this is, after all, supposed to be a game about movement, fluidity and speed rather than about exploration.

Except it’s not that, either. Or at least it’s not that in the mode everyone will gravitate to – the story mode. Story mode isn’t very good. More critically, the reliance on as overbearing a narrative as Mirror’s Edge is yoked to actively distracts from what the game does very well, which is the mechanics of fluid roof-running. With the constant carrot of new plot points dangled in front of you, whenever you miss a jump or make a lousy landing, you fail the game. The flow’s disrupted and you’re faced with the annoyance of repetition (for this uses a fairly inconsiderately-implemented checkpoint save system) if you want to progress. That’s close enough to the standard system for any FPS, of course, but it’s different here – because Mirror’s Edge is a racing game.

While we do, to some extent, play racing games to progress, largely we’re playing to test ourselves, to better our own records and achievements. If you played a racing game because you wanted to reach the next between-race cutscene, screwing up would be annoying – it means you have to tackle that race again. If, though, you’re racing to achieve a best time or a shiny medal, screwing up means you’ve failed yourself as opposed to the game. You try again because you want to do better, not because you have to.

That’s why Mirror’s Edge story mode fails. Death, usually by falling but sometimes by bullets in the face, comes often. Death systems, in other words, we’re accustomed to from action-orientated genres. Perhaps ME deserves accolades for attempting something of a genre fusion, but if it had discarded its fairly insipid efforts to be an action game its challenges would be thrilling challenges of its players own ability, not challenges laid by arbitrary setpieces. That the story is not an interesting one, hung around thinly-sketched characters and a weirdly unspecific dystopic tomorrow, is almost irrelevant. This isn’t a game that should have a story – or if it did, no more of one than a Tony Hawk or SSX game. Fantasy sporting challenges contained by only the loosest structure: that’s what Mirror’s Edge should be.

Instead, it makes exactly the mistakes we all predicted it would when we first heard about it. It’s restrictive, it doesn’t allow for much thinking on your feet, the combat feels out of place and grows in importance far too much, it hinges around Tomb Raider deaths and it lacks the variety you’d expect from a singleplayer FPS. Mistakes so obvious that it’s almost astounding they’re there. Storyline mode has one thing going for it: it’s very short. You’ll blow through it in a weekend, easy.

Yet, once all the storyline guff and the associated uncomfortable compromises are pushed aside, there’s something sparkling and beautiful hiding. Mirror’s Edge has a time trial mode, one that’s been overlooked in all the pre-release blather about tie-in comics and whether Faith’s hot or not. It’s easy to overlook it, especially if you’ve already sampled and been disheartened by the story mode – you’ll presume it’s just cheerless repetition of levels you’ve already died a few too many dozen times on. Don’t do that. Play the tutorial, then leave the Story alone and come back to the Time Trials. It’s where Mirror’s Edge has the confidence to be what it really is – a racing game, but with legs not wheels, hands not gears.

The courses are still prescribed and that means your attention still won’t stay with them for long, but by placing visible checkpoints scattered sequentially across those beautifully bare rooftops rather than claustrophobically ushering you from setpiece puzzle to setpiece puzzle, there’s more scope for shortcutting and for adapting to an error. You’re chasing a high score, both one set by the game and one set by unseen other players, and to achieve that you trial-and-error establish the best possible route you can devise. When you fail or fall short of your goal, it’s a drive to try again, to improve yourself, which that forlorn narrative mode just can’t muster. It’s doing something similar to The Club, but with a more appealing, logical key mechanic, and with far more character thanks to that stark, serene visual style.

Faith, you see, doesn’t matter a jot – sure, she’s a vaguely successful attempt to create an iconic character and thus launch a franchise, but the game’s real character is the city skyline. Forever giddying in its scale and beautiful in that signature sterile way, the reason for it being so and whatever tale is supposed to be gripping the streets below seems so irrelevant. It’s a fantasy obstacle course. For every second that Mirror’s Edge loses sight of that, it fails. When it’s just you, the rooftops and Faith’s slim repertoire of jumps, shimmies, slides and rolls, it’s something like the urban Tarzan game we all hoped Mirror’s Edge would be. Time Trial mode rewards practice and it rewards perseverance, and it’s the only reason to buy Mirror’s Edge.

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132 Comments »

  1. Mman says:

    As a side-note, I’ve heard plenty of ideas on what to do in the sequel, but reading them I actually get the feeling the best way would be to combine them all; levels with several paths and lots of stuff to explore (Life of the Party with parkour anyone?), fast paced chase levels, levels where you infiltrate an area in disguise or something and can plan your route before you take what you need and bolt, a tight level based around a single area, and various other such ideas (and combinations). I could do without mostly combat-focused levels though (chapter 7 and 9, I’m looking at you) .

    Step up a lot on the narrative and flesh out the world more (optional content could help a lot there). Essentially considering stuff like the sequences in-between levels feel somewhat thief inspired they could do with borrowing some more ideas in terms of varying things while faithfully sticking to a set of core mechanics.

    I never really got too much of a feeling of missed opportunity from ME but, thinking about it, I have to admit there are plenty of ways they could make the story more varied without frontloading most of the frustration into the first playthrough like things currently are or dumbing down the advanced time-trial play. And I think giving up on story entirely and just making a racing game would be defeatism (although I wouldn’t complain too much).

    Speaking of Thief the area in chapter 8 is called “Looking Glass”, an intentional reference?

  2. Skylance says:

    I kinda liked ME when I played it on the Xbox, but I absolutely love the game on PC. Control is light-years better. I think I died maybe… six times throughout the entire game?

    I’ve always wondered why people complain about the combat being difficult. Well, of course it’s difficult. That’s because you’re not supposed to be in combat.

    Out of maybe 70-120 possible combat situations in the game, there are only maybe 10-12 times it’s particularly difficult to avoid, and only twice in the game is it actually unavoidable.

    While it’s true there really aren’t that many alternate paths in a level, the obstacles are set up in such a way that there’s nearly always dozens of variations of the same path.

    Learning which of these variations gives you the most speed and which is the most best use of your character’s skills is where the game really shines. It really is parkour game. Fuck style; it’s all about efficiency, speed, and more efficiency.

    Sorry, ’bout the disjointed and cranky post :) I just really like this game.

    - KLS

  3. N says:

    Yeh pretty friggin bland story, and faith should take in the pooper from merc once in a wile so he would shut the hell up already. All in all not a bad game, played worse, played better. The game gives me a very “vegan” feeling don’t know why really; the characters seem to give too much fucking importance to what they do, and they way they talk… ugh, it’s like seeing 40 year olds trying to be *hip*…

  4. Dolphan says:

    Really enjoyed the story mode. I really didn’t die all that often – I’ve played games where I’ve died a lot more, and I have a fairly low tolerance for frustration. Bits of it were irritating, but I thought it was a pretty good overall experience.

  5. jonfitt says:

    Has anyone looked into the mapping possibilities with ME?
    Are we going to see excellent single player story maps produced for the PC version?
    That might be a game changer.

  6. N says:

    take it in*… god damn, edit function may you rest in piece you old bitch you… Oh btw the wrestler guy is one of the most retarded characters in a fps yet, seems like the type that watches america’s best cop shootouts drunk scarfing cheetos and yelling ” hi-haa whip out them tazers boys, damn right serves ‘em bastard colored sons of bitches”

  7. Hoernchen says:

    It never reaches its full potential because every time the “omg this is awesome” feeling starts to manifest itself you miss the jump. It completely breaks the flow.

  8. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    Jim: “The movement system is excellent, and must immediately be stolen by other games. Moreover, it’s so much better on mouse and keyboard than on a gamepad.”

    That’s great news, because I started playing it on my flatmate’s xbox, got horribly frustrated by the gamepad, and am thinking of buying it on the PC as soon as it’s out on Steam here in the UK. But I was horribly afraid the PC controls would be awful like they were in Assassin’s Creed.

    Speaking of Steam, why did it get a simultaneous release retail + Steam in the US, but not here in the UK/Europe? Get your act together, EA!

  9. Yengwa says:

    I really enjoyed the game and the story. Hell I’ve been buying the comic books I love it so much. I thought it was a lot of fun, the combat wasn’t too hard and there wasn’t a lot of it either.

    I didn’t really care for the time trials though, I don’t care for beating my times.

  10. Mman says:

    “Has anyone looked into the mapping possibilities with ME?
    Are we going to see excellent single player story maps produced for the PC version?
    That might be a game changer.”

    The developers have said the sequel will come with a level editor, so, unfortunately, that’s probably a no for the first game.

  11. SuperNashwan says:

    It has first person hugging. More games need this. It also has required split-second interaction in the middle of what otherwise appears to be a cut scene where you’re prevented from doing anything. Less of that.

  12. Thiefsie says:

    I’ve written about this on EG, but I played it on 360 and this was my take in as few words as possible.

    Terribly Short,
    Crap Story, Predictable, (I think i guessed the twist half-way through the tute level)
    No opportunity to sit and look around and ‘oversee’ a level
    Running rush is good when chased.
    Time trials are ok, alternate paths are almost non-sensicle.
    Graphical style is great, if a little bland after getting most of the way through the 6-8 hour game.
    Xbox controls are crap.
    I believe pc controls too might not be the best.
    There isn’t really any ‘nuance’ or feel, or perhaps feedback as to what you are doing and why it won’t work like you think it will… (say… wall run jump, raise legs to get over fence, duck to roll, and keep sprinting) – You do this in the tute level to get a huge shortcut and I tried to do it in different ways about 100 times and still couldn’t get it, or the associated achievement… for no discernible reason.
    Have to fight no matter what at least 2-3 times in the game.
    Movement physics aren’t that amazing – Thief was fairly similar years and years ago.
    Stupid ‘boss’ sequences.

    Needless to say I played enough of the game as I could be bothered getting about 70% of the achievements in 2 days and returned it for a full refund to EB games… (7 day trial ‘rental’ guarantee)

    I like the design of the DLC levels, alas I will never bother to try them.

  13. Del Boy says:

    So far I don’t agree with this article (around two thirds in).

    I think it’s great, anyone truly disappointed with it is doing something wrong.

    Although I can’t understand the problem with ‘death’, what other mechanic could they have possibly used when you fall off a really tall building?!

  14. Radiant says:

    The expansion, I believe, is just time trial mode and that looks awesome.

  15. jonfitt says:

    The developers have said the sequel will come with a level editor, so, unfortunately, that’s probably a no for the first game.

    Well that’s a pretty compelling Osbourne Effect to me.

  16. pathy says:

    I get the feeling when I play Mirrors Edge they wanted to create two games and instead combined them.

    One thing though, it shows me the potential that their movement allows. Their running, jumping and whatever else system is fantastic, and it’d be great in so many games. If they had made Mirrors Edge slightly more action oriented (Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of Faith being vulnerable and such, but the way they have designed the Story levels doesn’t stick to this very well.), allowed you to wear the armour that some of the ‘runner’ enemies do. And use a pistol. They could have not made the combat such a pain, enabled some better moves (PoP:TT style stealth kills, maybe) and such. There’s a lot they could have done.

    I’d love to see more games made like this though. A Thief or Assassins Creed style game with the movement that Mirrors Edge gives would be amazing.

    The game has it’s bad points, but it’s something I love. I play the game and get frustrated with the annoying, crampt levels they pass me in to, sighing as the ‘flow’ is locked down by forcing me to grab a series of pipes or to fight a bunch of guards… But then it throws me in to another ‘open’ level. Directing me generally where I am to go and letting me make it by myself. A guard popping out only provides me the opportunity to wall-kick him and move on before he has any idea what’s happened. I love that thrill.

    The game would have been so much better if they had stuck to only a few guards with pistols scattered about roof tops, and maybe some street level missions. (I like the indoor levels that were large, or short, it added a nice feel to the game.)

    I hope they make another, and learn. Or I hope someone copies and, and makes it better, because I can’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed just running as much as I do in this game.

  17. unique_identifier says:

    oh for a reality where quotes like Jim’s: “It’s incredibly vacuous as an experience” would be plastered across the box.

  18. Angel Dust says:

    I agree with the general consensus that the best parts of ME are the chase sequences, not the time trials. The Time Trials are fun but they don’t have the adrenalin rush that the cash sequences do.

    The story mode is hamstrung by the poor story, you can’t have a vague background ala HL2 when the character you are playing knows more than you, and some terrible level design and choices though. Chase sequences: great, Puzzle jump sequences with no enemies: a nice change of pace, 1-on-1 combat: fine, Cramped indoors with 4-5 enemies and an unclear objective: frustrating. For the sequel I think they really need to focus on the strengths and if they want some more level variety maybe introduce some stealth sections since I think that could fit quite well with Faith’s character.

  19. chiablo says:

    I enjoyed it. There’s nothing in there that I would praise too highly, but it was fun.

    Of course, I took a unique approach to it. Due to a bug in Vista/Win7 and Creative X-Fi cards, I have no sound in any of the cutscenes. So I skipped them all.

    I’m betting that because I threw the story completely out the window I found more enjoyment than the average person.

    However, a few nagging issues still remain:
    1. The enemies in the game went to the Stormtrooper School of Shooting Good Guys. Although this decreased the difficulty from frustrating to enjoyable, it feels really strange. When there’s a helicopter firing thousands of rounds at me, and only one connects… it’s disjointing.

    2. The game is ridiculously short. I know there is the racing mode, but no amount of ultra crisp bloomy graphics is worth a full price tag for 6 hours of gameplay. Portal got away with it because it was bundled with two other games, and L4D got away with it because there’s unlimited replayability with the multiplayer.

    So if you see it in the bargain bin or on discount on Steam for about $20, it’s a must have.

  20. GibletHead2000 says:

    Is it just me, or does anyone else think “lego” when looking at those screenshots?

  21. Logo says:

    The story thus far (I haven’t completed the game yet) seems to do nothing but work against the game. The Game does two things very well:

    1. Makes you feel like your avatar. The spatial awareness for a first person game is unrivaled and combined with the great animations the physical movement of the game is a thing of beauty.

    2. Amazing tension while fleeing. The high points of the game are when you are running from something adding that tension to the movement.

    Meanwhile the story works against both of these things. Faith’s strong personality and the frequent cut scenes makes you feel less like the character and more like an observer. This goes entirely against the first thing ME does well! I know for me the highlight of the plot so far has been simply the act of Faith hugging her sister. The way the animation played out made me actually feel a little connected to the characters. Everything since then has just torn that down.

    As for tension the plot in ME’s is rather slow and doesn’t seem very urgent. There’s no real impending doom or any particular hurry. For a game all about movement and flow I’d expect the plot to be very tense and dramatic. If ME had a plot that was fast paced (moving quickly from dangerous situation to dangerous situation) and conveyed a better sense of urgency and need to keep moving it’d gel a lot better with the gameplay. If they had managed to do that the game would have a lot better appeal.

    As for the gameplay itself I’m enjoying it a lot more now that I realize that most fights are puzzles more than fights. The majority of the seemingly forced fights can be bypassed with some clever maneuvering and good jumps for a narrow escape without needing to incapacitate foes.

    The situations where you DO need to fight opponents the game is down right infuriating if you are trying to do it without shooting anyone. My biggest gripes with the combat are two parts. One is that a ‘stunned’ opponent (after a slide kick for example) can’t be disarmed meaning you have to stand around and wait for him to recover to attempt to disarm him. The other problem is that if you don’t get off the initial grab you’re generally dead. Missing the initial grab often times leaves you with no chance to make a grab at the 2nd (fatal) blow. That means that I can dispatched 4/5 enemies, mess up on the 5th and have no real option to save myself. Back away and you get shot. Try to grab again and the timing is very very difficult. It’s a no win situation.

    My biggest fear with this game is that its strengths will be overlooked. The movement and self-representation stylings of this game are BEGGING to be used elsewhere. There’s so many styles of games that this could be used well in.

    For example….

    1. Thief-like game play. Add stealth mechanics to ME along with some carried items and create a thief like game. The player will be able to climb and clamor all over the environment to sneak past guards and infiltrate buildings. Dramatic chase scenes would also fit well into the game play adding a different type of tension to be a counter-point to the stealth mechanics.

    2. Survival Horror. Being chased by the ‘blues’ can be tense enough. Being chased by a Tyrant/Nemesis like monster would be down right horrifying. Add in support to always carry a pistol and you add gun play into the game as well. With such a sense of being the avatar and the spatial awareness the tension of a survival horror game could be magnified ten fold. Also you can in a sense bring back bullet-starvation without being so annoying. Single load guns or guns that hinder movement could provide the opportunity to have fire power while at the same time limiting the player from hording them or taking them on. It would work better than bullet conservation as players won’t feel like they need to horde or save ammo for tough fights.

    3. War Setting from a different angle. Imagine climbing/running through a war torn city with the mirror’s edge movement mechanics. You, the player, would be less of a soldier and more of a bystander. One possible setting could be a Jew during WWII ala The Pianist but with more fighting. You’d happen upon guns and have to take up arms more often than ME but it wouldn’t be something you can rely on. The game would still have more emphasis on movement and avoiding combat rather than the blazing guns approach.

    Anyways it’s a long rant but I’ve been dieing to talk about this game since I started playing it. ME does some things very very well and it’d be a shame if those things were ignored in future games.

  22. Ben says:

    First off: When I played this I got intense nostalgia for Oni, does anyone remember Oni? I think it was the moment that I jump kicked a SWAT guy. Some mixture of Oni with Mirror’s Edge just might be the Killer App of the genre.

    One thing I think would help the game is an enhanced FOV. The farthest FOV most FPS’s allow is 90 degrees, while human FOV is more like 160 (try it out, wiggle your fingers at your vision’s periphery and see how far out you can sense the motion). Some kind of compressed blurry fisheye around the sides and edges of the screen would give a much better sense of your surroundings (and an enhanced perception of speed, did anyone else notice that it felt like you were running really slow?)

    This game is also an absolute racing platformer. I resent games like this being called “parkour” games when all they do is replace ladders with pipes and bumps. Why is parkour suddenly revolutionary when Tomb Raider has been doing this kind of gameplay for ages?

    I want to see a real parkour game, with moves designed to interface with the real world, instead of all these platforming games with a cityscape veneer.

  23. Ben says:

    Also: did anyone else feel like there was about half a game missing? From the fact that there was a “mystery” character who was obviously female (and everyone insisted on calling “he”) when there wasn’t much mystery, since there were only three female characters and two choices could be automatically discarded (one being in prison and the other being you). Or the astounding rapidity in which Mayor Bad Guy became Mayor Voice In Your Ear.

  24. Daniel Purvis says:

    As soon as I read the head, I knew you’d be making a comparison to The Club. Strangely, these are two of my favourite games from last year, both underrated.

    In reading reviews, critique and discussion of Mirror’s Edge, I get so infuriated at the number of people dismissing the game on the basis that the “story mode sucked!” from the outset, without ever, EVER even mentioning the Time Trial mode or simply casting it away as an extra.

    When I first played Mirror’s Edge, the first thing that struck me was the Time Trial mode. IN fact, that’s the mode that was always demonstrated in the various videos released with Parkour guys playing.

    DICE should have swapped the options for Story Mode and Time Trial at the start menu to provide some indication as to what players should be hitting first. Unfortunately, the best Time Trial levels are also locked out until you complete a number of the Story Mode levels and this is one of it’s biggest faults. It tells you to go play the Story Mode then come back.

    What a waste of opportunity.

    Thank you for the post Alec and I do hope you’ve encouraged more people to open up a little and finally figure out what ME is really all about.

  25. Mindtrap says:

    Mirror’s edge tried to achieve what no other FPS ever dared to try. the story isn’t the best but it drives the game, the gameplay is compeling and not repetitive like some dare to say, the race mode is there for those racing game addicts who like to shave 1 more tenth of a sec from their record…anything missing?

    RPS says it is a racing game, i dont know many racing games where you have the liberty to explore the track like you want ME to be, you just have the track and that’s it, start to finish. Done. Why complaining about the lack of liberty around the maps/”tracks” ?

    Yeah, it’s also a FPS game, that does not focus on guns which is something unthinkable for many FPS fans (besides Portal addicts like me of course).

    It’s short. yes it is. but it’s long enough to serve as a playground for DICE to see that the concept works. Like when Valve released Portal. No one would think that it would be so successefull! but it was and now we want more!

    Instead of focusing on the bad points we should be thankfull DICE took the step that only a few would dare to take. Valve before with Portal, and now DICE with Mirror’s Edge. Instead of ranting about what we dont like, lets help DICE making a sequel with all the features this one has and a lot more!

    Mirror’s Edge is art and i hope there’s more from where this one came from!

  26. schizoslayer says:

    Here’s the thing about the Mirrors Edge PC version.

    It’s isn’t a port of the console version. The UI is shared for the most part but beyond that this is a PC game. Just look at who developed it: DICE. A PC developer if ever there was one. The controls are designed for Mouse and keyboard and have been ported to control pads. The PC controls are far superior to the Xbox pad as you can react as fast as you need to. The Engine has no performance problems because this game was developed on PC for PC.

    The only reason this game was released later than the console versions is fairly simple: Piracy.

    EA didn’t want PC Piracy to stop Console owners buying the game for the holidays. So they delayed the PC version until after the holidays. In all liklihood the PC version was ready to go and playable before the Console versions went into submission. This is why it’s harder than the console versions. Between those shipping and the PC version releasing DICE responded to the feedback that the game was too easy.

    This is not a PC port of a console game. It is a PC game. Designed for PC , made on PC. Better on PC.

  27. MeestaNob! says:

    I’m very interested in trying this myself, but the shelf/Steam price is far too high for a 5-6 game (8-9 if you’re hopeless, apparently).

    I shall wait a few months, there might even be a demo by then.

  28. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    I’m on the fence as to the objectification of Mirror’s Edge as an ashamed racing game as opposed to a well-meaning, if somewhat clumsy action platformer.

    On the one hand, it’s easy to see why one would want to trim the game’s poorly-done superfluous elements and blemishes away into a more purely appealing, sleeker, “sexier” product. Hell, on an instinctual level I’d agree with it.

    On the other hand, the devs chose to make an action platformer instead of a racing game because they didn’t want to shoehorn their designs into the blatant appeal of “low mimesis.” On all layers of creation, they attempted to make a statement. In world-building, character design, and even the root concept of the game itself–first-person platformer–they chose to defy expectations and preconceptions. How well they succeeded is up to you.

    You have to admit that time trial version really does look more attractive to people who aren’t totally hammered, though.

    Also, I’m still irked that Faith’s features make her look like a caricature of Asians.

  29. PJ says:

    I praise you Alec Meer for pointing out to general public what I was pointing out here in Poland in my reviews, and been laughed about. Big up for saying its a goddamn RACER :D

    there is only one thing wrong with racing part – its exploiters, and DICE doing shit about them. fighting for better times is now completly pointless, since on almost every track REAL best times are beaten by 20 seconds by loosers who use dirty tricks.

    ps. I liked story mode. Burned thru it like 6 times now, most on xbox, only one on PC (to unlock trials ofc). But I guess its a question of taste

  30. Andy`` says:

    schizoslayer: That’s a nice string of assumptions you’ve made there. Of course, given DICE are historically a PC developer over anything else (not that they haven’t worked on consoles before) and I doubt they’d want to kill the trust of their PC followers by going so low as to formulate such a conspiracy.

    More likely (speaking from some kind of experience here) the problem was a more innocent one, like the game running poorly and needing to be properly optimised on one or more target hardware configurations, especially if work on the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions left them will less time to optimise (this is their first game to be released on three major platforms at once, including the PC). Better to get two copies of the game out for Christmas rather than none at all.

    PC games are great, but they come with their own special little group of development issues.

  31. Mman says:

    DICE have already said they are patching the game soon to fix the cheaters on the PC scoreboards.

    “My biggest fear with this game is that its strengths will be overlooked. The movement and self-representation stylings of this game are BEGGING to be used elsewhere. There’s so many styles of games that this could be used well in.”

    Yes, this is what I’m worried about too; they already provide a great scheme that could be planted in many styles of games with only slight edits.

    Considering how badly the game sold it probably will be overlooked for now. Considering post-mortem interviews have made it obvious they are listening to feedback, I just hope they can pull off the balance between casual appeal and hardcore time-shaving in the next game (rather than mostly catering to the latter).

  32. Pantsman says:

    Here’s my opinion: Mirror’s Edge is mostly a brilliant and original platformer (or platformer-racer hybrid, if you insist) and occasionally flawed but at times excellent FPS. I know the combat doesn’t always work well, but there are very few times when you’re actually forced to fight, and of the few times where I have stood and fought there have been instances of something wonderful.

    You can’t try to play it like a regular FPS. This will get you killed. You have to consciously use the environment to get the drop on individual enemies, drawing them away from the pack and doing hit-and-run attacks. The martial-arts system in the game is simple and well-thought-out, and while it does need a little tweaking, it recalls FEAR when FEAR was at its best.

    I also have to second what other people are saying about being chased providing tension and drama.

    If you couldn’t tell, I’m really enjoying the campaign.

  33. Pantsman says:

    That should be “and occasionally a flawed but at times excellent FPS”.

  34. RealHorrorshow says:

    I enjoyed every minute of Mirror’s Edge, even the FPS parts. And my god have the FPS parts been overblown. You can run past 90% of the enemies in the game if you’re fast enough, and even if you do take every chance to shoot people, you spend literally 10 minutes total, out of the entire game, with a loaded gun in your hand.

    It will be on my best of 2009 list I’m sure, but somewhere in 6-10.

  35. VTGamer says:

    I also really thought that Mirror’s Edge was a racer. I thought it analogous to Gran Turismo. Think of each level as a track, with each obstacle as a corner. The same as your improving brake and gas timing, you time your input commands. Gran Turismo had just realistic enough physics to really go to a second level about controlling the car, when the car begins to dance around your fingertips. Its the same way with Mirror’s Edge, you begin to understand the system and when you get over that curve, you begin to flow faster and faster from obstacle to obstacle (each corner of the track in Turismo). If you start thinking of each enemy as chicanes, then you start understanding that hey maybe i can even get through a section without even disarming an enemy. What made mirror’s edge system work so well is that each reaction followed a certain law, just like the driving model, and when you did it right not only were you going through it faster but smoother as well.

  36. VTGamer says:

    BTW watch some speed runs to see how really fast you can actually go, and how few enemies, even the ones that you think you cant avoid can be avoided.

  37. Andy`` says:

    I’m up still for no good reason (I had a good reason but didn’t do anything with it so it’s now just an excuse), so who wants some numbers?

    “You can run past 90% of the enemies in the game if you’re fast enough”

    Pulled from memory, so numbers might not be accurate, but they’ll be very close – there are over 100 enemies you’ll encounter as you’re running along (for the sake of argument over the following numbers, its more than 112, so its more than 90% you can avoid). About 82 of them are likely candidates for killing, that get in your way or are otherwise annoying. You can survive the entire game by killing something like 11 or 12 of them.

    It’s fun, try it! It’s what most of the Speed Run mode is about too, iirc.

  38. Carlton says:

    I have to agree with CrashT. Time trials in theory should be more exciting, since it’s closer to the game’s intended purpose, but the thrill of the racing game comes also in that you are not the only one on the course. You are actively competing with people or computers that are right there and can make things more difficult and thrilling. The most fun I have had in a racing game is when I am begin chased. When I have the chance to out maneuver and constantly look behind my back.

    Those bits where you ran from the Icarus traceurs were the best, and actually made up for a lot of the shortcomings I initially had. And actually when you are chasing down the assassin the game also hits a fine stride. In that sequence you have the most dynamic interaction there is, since you’re adapting to changes the enemy makes in the environment and doing so quickly.

    I actually think ME would work best as a multiplayer game where one player runs and the other chases. Maybe the runner trying to get to a checkpoint. Actually, that idea is so obvious (and the ending sets up a possible co-op experience) I wouldn’t be surprised ifa sequel for it does that.
    I would honestly say Mirror’s Edge is more about the chase.

  39. unclelou says:

    Yes! It’s the kind of game that will make many other games feel clumsy.

    As much as I love the game, and as much as I agree that “tech demo” is mostly a bit of a meaningless term, I do think it’s not entirely inappropriate here. Movement/controls, artstyle and the basic idea of getting chased are perfect, but there’s not much else. They’ve built a very basic game around a perfect idea with perfect controls.

  40. unclelou says:

    Hot damn, I completely ballsed up the quote. I am useless without an editing function. :-(

  41. Mark | Retroblique says:

    It’s not difficult to see why so many people are bemoaning Mirror’s Edge for what it’s not rather than what it is.

    The game’s aesthetic qualities set the bar so high the gameplay continually struggles to hurdle it. It comes close on a few occasions, but you’re always left with the feeling that you’re only just being afforded the merest glimpse of what DICE are truly capable of delivering within this framework.

    I was a little reluctant to try this game, despite my early enthusiasm, after the console crowd uttered a collective “meh”. Most of the criticism, I recall, focused on the overwhelming frustration players felt as they plummeted to their death, having failed to make a particularly tricky jump for the six billionth time. Using a controller, I can see that being the case. Thankfully, on the PC version, control is very fluid and reflexive with a mouse. I did try it with an Xbox controller: I’m not usually adverse to using gamepads in shooters, but my word. What a nightmare.

    Every chapter of Mirror’s Edge left me wanting more. Not necessarily more of the same, but more environment, more possibilities, more options. One of my favourite moments in the game is the chapter where the climax has you being chased by half-a-dozen ninjas. There’s no possible way you can stop to fight them, so you have to run and make very few fuck ups. This chapter had a level of exhilaration that was otherwise missing from most of the game. While you were still running on a fairly linear path, there was just enough scope to give you some room to improvise if you made a mistake.

    Yeah, the combat felt a little out place in the game, although my current personal challenge is to get through the game on hard difficulty without firing a single bullet.

    DICE need to do two things with this game. Firstly, release a level editor for the PC version. This will ensure the game survives at least a couple of years. I bought it at the weekend and look set to be throwing it into the cupboard next week once I’ve exhausted the time trial modes. Secondly, they need to release a sequel that focuses on epic chases and open-ended levels, ditch the combat and if they really must weave a story into the proceedings, ask Valve nicely if they can borrow Marc Laidlaw to write it.

    Anyway, I did enjoy my time with Mirror’s Edge. It’s not afraid to be a highly-polished throwback to the frustrating 2D platformers of old. It is, however, afraid to be more than that.

  42. aldo_14 says:

    Also, I’m still irked that Faith’s features make her look like a caricature of Asians.

    Huh. I had an asian personage say pretty much the opposite to me, recently (when discussing the DICE artwork versus that fan-made ‘more attractive’ version).

  43. Schmung says:

    i was one of the people who gave Mirrors Edge a bit of a kicking on these very forums when the 360 demo first appeared and I have to say that I’ve somewhat revised my opinion since then. A lot of the criticism levelled at the game is entirely valid and ditto the praise the tension and excitement of the chases, but what surprised me about my own reaction to the game was the time trials. I’m generally not someone who goes in for these sorts of things, but the saving grace (on the 360 at least) is that you can race your friends ghosts. I don’t care about Johhny Progamer spending twenty hours getting a time five seconds quicker than me, but if my obnoxious mate who I went to Uni with bets my time by half a second then I will happily spend an hour trying to beat him.

    I also wouldn’t go as far as saying that the 360 controls are awful, it’s just a mouse is clearly the best tool to play Mirrors Edge with. Shame it’s not really an option for me. Is there some sort of integration with something with friends list functionality in the PC version?

  44. Dave L. says:

    “About 82 of them are likely candidates for killing, that get in your way or are otherwise annoying. You can survive the entire game by killing something like 11 or 12 of them.”

    This is spectacularly overestimating. There are only three guys that you absolutely HAVE to lay hands on over the course of the game. Two of them are on The Boat. There are maybe four or five others that disarming or otherwise taking out makes things a lot easier (also on The Boat), but with luck and speed, three is the absolute minimum.

  45. Hermit says:

    I’m convinced the combat is actually a clever ploy to make the Story Mode seem longer. I usually play ME in 30-40 minute chunks until I hit some stupid ambush and die repeatedly. At that point I give up, knowing that if I come back tomorrow I’ve got a really crap bit to do, but I’m mostly guaranteed some decent running and jumping afterwards.

    The problem with the plot is you just don’t care for any of the characters. Not your sister, not faith, not any of the runners, not Pope. They’re just names, and the dodgy 2D cutscenes don’t do it any favours.

    That said when a section works, it is brilliant, and once I’ve finished the storymode I’m looking forward to some time trial action.

    ME2 needs to ditch the story and just be a game about free-running postmen in the future. If they just said “Here’s the city, get from A to B” I think I’d struggle to put this down.

  46. Dave L. says:

    Addenda: That’s not counting Ropeburn and the absolute last dude.

    “In all liklihood the PC version was ready to go and playable before the Console versions went into submission.” Having worked on a couple of multiplatform games, I can say that this is highly unlikely. More likely that the 360 and PS3 versions were in such poor shape that they had to pull the PC team off to help with the console versions so they could make their submission dates.

  47. schizoslayer says:

    Broken Edit boo

  48. schizoslayer says:

    Unless you actually work at DICE or EA and are privy to their exact plans then your opinion of how hard it was to get Mirrors Edge working on PC is at most only as valid as mine since I’ve been working on Unreal powered games now for the best part of 4 years. As of just over 12 months ago it has been incredibly easy to get an Unreal powered game running at a good framerate on PC. You have to be a fairly terrible developer to not be able to get your game running at 30fps on mid-range hardware especially if you have set your budgets based on the limitations of the 2 consoles.

    I maintain that the primary development team on Mirrors Edge were working on PC with seperate teams managing the Console builds. Right now with the latest version of Unreal you can hit 30 without even thinking about it on PS3 and 360. Especially in a game like Mirrors Edge where you are doing very little streaming and working in relatively small enclosed levels (How the engine likes to operate).

  49. Premium User Badge

    AndrewC says:

    I also want to say nice things about The Club – another game that looks like one type of game but is in fact another type of game. It’s kind of super cool – if you are willing to play it how it wants to be played.

  50. Premium User Badge

    Sagan says:

    I think a lot of you guys didn’t enjoy the game, because you had wrong perceptions about the fighting.
    Complaining that you can’t win the fights by only using melee is, in my mind, just as unwarranted as complaining that you can’t beat Warcraft III by only using footmen.
    There may be an achievement for playing without guns, but if you attempt to do that on your first play through, you are of course going to be very frustrated.
    Also you shouldn’t try to avoid the fights. They are there, so that you get alternating parts of action (running) and slow-down. (shooting or the parts where you have to figure out how to get up somewhere) If the game was just running all the time, it would quickly become tiresome. And the fights are not much of an imposition, because they are ridiculously easy and you only have to fight for roughly a minute once every 15 minutes. The only difficulty in the fights is getting the first gun off an enemy.
    The fights aren’t a large part in the game. You are only making them a large part by trying to beat them without guns or by trying to avoid them, both of which will end up just frustrating.