Reviews// Mirror's Edge

The demo fails to demonstrate

Posted 14 Nov 2008 15:15 by
Games: Mirror's Edge
The problem was that there was nothing about the demo that would have made me want to play it again. Indeed, after playing it, there was very little that would have made me pick up the game if I had not been obliged to review it.

When the review code arrived, I played it first on one of the office PS3s, which meant I had to play the prologue again. This time round, it felt more natural. I noticed that because I knew the controls, and I started stringing moves together, it began to 'flow'. Gareth had said to me that he found the demo slow and disjointed and the controls, which are context sensitive, to be slightly confusing; I had agreed with him. But now, playing it a second time through, my initial reservations were being eroded.

There I was, picking up momentum and stringing moves together. And it was becoming fun. This turns out to be an intention of the developers - that if you can run smoothly, without stopping or fluffing a move, and link moves together, you will pick up momentum.

The demo fails to demonstrate this, because almost everyone playing the demo is a novice at the game. They constantly mess up and have to try a move again, so they never build up any momentum, and so they feel like the game is slow, clumsy and unresponsive. Clearly, EA would not want to give too much away in the demo, but I think it would have been worth giving some exclusive artwork, or some other pay-off that changed each time the demo was completed, to encourage player to try it a few times.

When I brought the review code home and played through the prologue for a third time, I was almost an old hand. Instinctively, I knew what I needed to press. I played through the introductory semi-level that follows the tutorial part, and concludes the prologue in one smooth run. Now I was having fun! The prologue ends with Faith hanging by one arm from the skids of a helicopter. As it flies away we see her reflected in the mirror windows of a passing building, it's as impressive a scene as any I have ever seen in any video game.

There are no desperate attempts to be cool by compiling a soundtrack of old school and hip indie faves here. Instead the beautiful visuals are accompanied by a slick, ambient electronic soundtrack that perfectly complements the game.

From here the story quickly develops and, due to the superb cell-shaded cut scenes, a decent script and good voice acting, you quickly become engrossed in the game.

The story, of course merely exists to compel you to get back out into the city, to travel from A to B, to experience more chase action. Although this is clearly the reason for the narrative, which is written by Rhianna Pratchett, it does not come across as a pretext. It does, however, come across as derivative and hackneyed. Every aspect has been covered well previously in books of the genre and second rate US cop thrillers. Data couriers; a framed sister who is also a cop, tolerant police officer who'll turn a blind eye; Faith even has a fatherly guiding boss, c'mon folks!? The cut scenes, though, are so beautifully rendered that watching them is never a chore.
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Games: Mirror's Edge

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Charliemouse 17 Nov 2008 09:13
Did the reviewer miss the time trial option to centre the leaderboard on you? Makes it easy to pick someone near your level and shave a few seconds off.

Am loving Mirror's Edge, have already stuck about 8 hours in to it.

DoctorDee 18 Nov 2008 13:33
I missed it at first. So my comment about the natural tendancy to choose th efastest player holds true. But my point is, your level keeps changing and you have to keep selecting a new ghost to choose. It would be nice if the system automatically slelected the next fastest above your last time, or better still idenitfied your time fo reach section, andloaded a composite ghost that was just faster than you in each section. And also only started the ghost on each section when you start the section... so if there's a section you suck at the ghost doesn't leave you there and finish the level completely.

config 25 Nov 2008 19:44
Finished the story mode in three modest sittings - prolly around 9-10 hours total - I don't think I made rapid progress either because there's too much sudden death/retry - sometimes dozens of times.

I looks bloody lovely, so it's real shame DICE opted for the freaky looking animation during the narrative. It's neither cel-shaded 3D or lovingly crafted pen-and-ink, but come bastard product of the two. Given the attention the game engine, environment and character models got, it's a pitiful waste.

The time trials and speed runs might be this game's saviour to some, but for me they're limited enjoyment. I'll have a go at the time trials, but won't persist to the point or trying to shave millis from each stage. Speed runs are, IMO, an exercise in the gaming equivalent of self-flagellation - making perfect progress of 95% of the run, only to cock it up on the last jump because you press jump a fraction too late and are lying flat on your back, legs flailing as the seconds tick by.

No, I'd probably re-do the story or, more likely, move on to another game.
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