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Mirror's Edge

Mirror’s Edge has a ton of unfortunate problems, the most prevalent of which is the fact that the game can be experienced almost entirely by playing its demo.

But what it accomplished is a big deal in the first-person realm; it is the game that has brought me closest to the feeling that I have a virtual body which matters to the gameplay in a way other than being a target, and is the first game that has pulled off free running as a focus that I know of. It’s an excellent experiment, which although easily be looked at as a failure has pushed the first-person experience forward. I didn’t expect that I’d ever again say something like this about anything that had the EA logo on it, but here it is: it’s an admirable mostly failed experiment that has at least tried to explore a genre and do something the least bit new.

The player can look down to see hands, legs and feet.

It’s an interesting concept given the core gameplay, which consists of running and maneuvering through different obstacles by running, jumping, rolling, sliding, and so forth. The gameplay is incredibly smooth for a first attempt at such a different concept. Only something like The Sands of Time beats such fluid motion, although Sands has far smoother gameplay and animations than most games in general. But the first level of Mirror’s Edge is a small masterpiece of gameplay and level design, not to mention pacing; unfortunately the game just doesn’t maintain that level of quality for the few levels that come after it.

Suspended from a red line, the player travels from building to building, feet out in front of the camera.

The game’s smooth nature is not only realized through the gameplay, but through the environments as well, which are big on primary colors and simplicity and brightness. I find the game very aesthetically pleasing, but at the same time the environments give the same sort of tech demo vibe that the tacked-on later levels do.

Bullet holes shine light upwards through a vent the player occupies.

Bullets fly through glass, shattering it into pieces.

I do love Edge for what it’s done as far as its core gameplay concept goes, but the game is a big disappointment overall. Still, I think the demo is worth playing to experience the fluidity and excellence of the flow of the game. It’s also a neat idea to make the environment the most important part of the experience outside of something like a skateboarding game. It’s also neat to treat weapons as disposable objects that are largely unneeded, instead of hoarding every weapon found throughout the course of the game. This inverts some key ideals normally found in the first-person world, and shifting focus like that is something that shooters need desperately.

The player leaps onto a crane from another building, leg sticking out to land with.

Rating: Worth Playing (The First Level)