Mirror's Edge Comes to the PC

Mirror's Edge for the PC and all next-gen platforms
When I first got wind (no pun intended) of this game my immediate reaction was not a good one. It wasn't until one of my contributors told me in no uncertain terms, "try the demo. If you can get past the 10 minute tutorial then you're golden." Needless to say after spending about 3 hours with the game on my first run-through I was hooked.

This is not your typical first person game. In-fact, this is more of a first person action-adventure game with shooter-like elements.

Mirror's Edge (ME) embarks on a (roughly) 8-hour story about a totalitarian transformed society, ala "Demolition Man", where the preverbal "Uncle Sam" fervently monitors communication. A handful of people where apposed to the new reformed security and rebelled. In an effort to relay information and escape the eyes of the ever-watchful regime, people of this imaginary metropolis come to rely on "Runners" - a transport courier of information and extremely sensitive materials.

The main protagonist, Faith, in the opening cinematic, describes what is called "the Flow" which is simply, a unique way these couriers see the city. Their playgrounds are the rooftops of sky scrappers, windowsills, pipes, ledges, walls, elevator shafts, etc. Traversing these obstacles in a multitude of ways is where the real fun occurs.

"Mirror's Edge" can be broken down into 4 distinct parts, in my humble opinion, which are escape, time trials, exploration and combat. We'll get into the combat later though don't expect much here.

Without giving too much of the story away, Faith, discovers that her straight-laced sister has been mixed up in something big and thus is now in harms way. For the majority of the game you're taking Faith around searching for clues on how to save her sister and who's behind all the drama. Of course the bad guys don't like people messing around in their business and local police forces aren't the friendliest towards "Runners". Therefore you spend much of your time escaping capture from all sides.

If you're feint-hearted, this game is not for you. Not only do you have to escape your pursuers, but you've gotta keep from falling to your death.
But all is not lost. To help Faith escape, you've been equipped with abilities and an uncanny level of strength to guide her through this world staying alive while digging for clues.

Electronic Arts (EA) the makers of ME, used the sport of Parkour as the base for these abilities. Parkour (PK) is the art of movement in an efficient manor. It involves being able to get from one point to the other quickly and in the most efficient manor. It's kinda hard to explain but essentially if you go with the concept that the shortest path between two points is a straight line then connect movement to that through any space and you have Parkour. Wall running/climbing (ala Prince of Persia or Ninja Gaiden), 180 degree jump, springboard, vaults, slides, sprint, skillroll are all examples of Parkour and is very much used in ME.

If you remember the good'ol days of Super Mario Bros. and the often times tricky parts of the game where you would have time your jumps perfectly in order to proceed. Then get ready to resurrect those same feelings of frustration when you fail. One of the drawbacks of this game is that levels or areas will be come repetitive in terms of you trying to traverse them. It could be a simple as wall climbing then quickly turning 180 degrees and jumping to grab an edge where you have to hoist yourself up. This, by the way, is in the tutorial and it took me sometime to get the hang of it. There are several levels/areas like this through the ME world where you will find yourself repeating until you can over come the obstacles. As such the game can become very repetitive taking away from the over all experience.

Now while you're busy trying to traverse the area in many cases you're under serious pressure to escape capture. To that end Faith has been endowed with combat tactics that utilize her speed and momentum to get around, disarm or take down her pursuers. Certain attacks like the flying kick are purely based on momentum and if executed well can allow you to pummel your enemies (without killing them if you're more of the soft hearted type) while maintaining your speed. This is a neat trick that will allow you to get to your objective a lot faster.

The important thing to remember is to isolate your enemies to a one on one scenario. Trying to fight multiple enemies at the same time just wont work out well for you. Remember this isn't a shooter. The primary focus here is efficiency and thanks to your "Runner's vision" Faith is able to tell which enemies she'll need to engage and which she can simply avoid. Disarming or using a weapon on an enemy are ways to defeat your pursuers. If you're able to go through the game without using a weapon on an enemy you will unlock a pretty cool achievement but even on the easiest mode of play this is extremely difficult to do.

The combat system both melee and shooting isn't well executed. Sure you can use your reaction (matrix like effect that temporarily slows down time) time to appropriately disarm your opponents; but that only has limited use since it's only built up while you're running. Targeting your enemies is a little rough as well and could use some fine-tuning. Don't think you can just blast your way through this game like better fps (first person shooter) games since getting a bead on your enemy can be tricky.

Also the distance between completing an area is not spaced well so with the difficulty of traversing an area along with the amount of times you're almost guaranteed to die from a long fall and subsequently having to start from scratch. While this game does border on repetitiveness, poor targeting, and halfway decent combat, one will enjoy everything else. This is a great attempt by EA to bring a new genre of gaming to the pool and thus a must have for any gamer with an open mind.

"Mirror's Edge" for the PC will be available later this month. It is currently available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3.
Produced by Chad Chamberlain