Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mirror's Edge (PS3)

Mirror's Edge was developed by DICE, the ones behind the Battlefield series.  Taking a break from gun-toting warfare, Mirror's Edge is a first-person platformer, where the focus is on running and climbing structures as quickly as possible.  As the player, you control Faith, who runs over rooftops and climbs structures.  It's kind of a like a first-person Assassin's Creed.  The game is set in the future where Faith is known as a runner, a type of off-the-grid messenger.  One day, her sister is framed for murder and it is up to Faith to find out who is the real culprit.  She often gets chased by police and security guards throughout, running over the rooftops of buildings and through various ventilation shafts and rooms inside those buildings.  The story is told via a combination of 2D simplistic comic book styled cutscenes, and in-game cutscenes.  The story ends up being quite muddled and bland, unable to hold your interest.

The game is short as well, with only ten chapters, it takes 5-8 hours to finish the first time around, but can be finished in as little as just over an hour by speedrunners proficient at the game.  Faith is agile, being able to run, duck, climb over obstacles and jump over gaps.  The controls are easy to pick up but take a while to get used to since it is unlike anything else.  Faith can also wallrun, slide across the ground and shimmy past ledges.  As the whole game is seen in first-person view from Faith's perspective, you will see parts of Faith's limbs while running and it is one of the most realistic depicts of first-person view in a game since her arms aren't always onscreen.  The first-person view and quick movement is a prime trigger for motion sickness, even the center reticule will not help if you are susceptible to it.

As a huge portion of the game is platforming, the first-person view ends up causing more issues as it is difficult to judge distances and you will miss that jump ever so slightly.  You do not get peripheral vision so you don't have a sense of your surroundings.  It is painful to play when you're trying to do wallruns and yet Faith misses it by just a tiny amount time and time again just because you didn't line up the angle perfectly.  For a game so much about "flow", you are forced to stop way too much in your first playthrough.  The controls are awkward to handle at times.  Since the tutorial only covers the basics, it is not enough for the more complicated sections.  It is frustrating when you get stuck at a level just because you cannot get past one segment which required such precise timing and buttons.

The buildings in this world have a simplistic aesthetic, filled with mostly blue, white and red.  It's striking and looks great but does make a few sections look very similar to something you've ran through before.  To aid you while running, Runner Vision will highlight red objects to show the way (which may not be the fastest and most efficient way).  You can also press a button to automatically point the camera in the general direction.  However, it's very easy to not know where you are supposed to do.  The trial and error gameplay wouldn't be so bad if there weren't some sections with enemies chasing you, shooting at you, while you try and climb and leap at everything in a bid to figure the way out.  No, instead of allowing you to stop and think, the game forces you to run around like a headless chicken to decipher the path the developer wanted you to take which may not always be obvious.

Enemies will attack Faith with guns.  Faith has access to basic combat such as punches.  You can also combine Faith's momentum with her attacks to create a more powerful attack.  Furthermore, Faith can disarm and use the enemies' weapons against them.  Sadly, unless you activate the slowdown of time, the window of opportunity for disarming is too tight to do successfully every time, plus, you have to align the angle in such a way for it to be successful.  Usually, it is much better and faster for Faith to not engage the enemy but run past them.  Even if you do want to engage the enemy, you should lure them out such that you can attack them one-on-one.  Having the enemy engage you while they are in a group is suicide.  Sadly, Faith dies in one or two bullets, which while realistic, does not make for a fun game.  Later chapters have enemies with rapid fire machine guns that do even more damage in a short amount of time, making for a frustrating experience.  Whoever thought it was a great idea to put gun shooting enemies when you cannot retaliate is an idiot.

The game is extremely cheap when it throws multiple enemies that gang up on you with weapons.  At these points in the game, it becomes even less fun.  The problem here being is, the enemies have extremely good accuracy and their bullets will hit you.  Checkpoints for the most part are okay but some sections are really annoying in that you have to repeat multiple platforming that you've already done, what is the point?  This can get aggravating when you are just stuck at one particular segment.  Once you've finished the main story, there are plenty of other things to do.  You can complete speedruns for each chapter, or participate in time trials of shorter sections.  There are online leaderboards and you can download ghosts of other players' attempts to race against.  Overall, Mirror's Edge is a unique type of a game that hasn't really been seen since.  While the concept is great, the first-person view can be problematic, the trial and error gameplay frustrating and the cheap sections with enemies ganging up on you annoying.


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