Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
18 November 2008
Review: Mirror's Edge
Mirror's Edge is a new high-concept game from EA that combines parkour with a first-person perspective. From a technical standpoint it succeeds in several areas, and I heartily recommend the demo. I do not recommend the full game.

The key mechanics problem here is that developers and designers can't quite tell what is a well-designed level and what isn't when they're creating such a new kind of game. There are times when the design is inspired, but there are also many, many sections that remind me of slapped-together Action Quake 2 levels from back in the day. Frankly, it gave me new respect for the original Tomb Raider -- someone on that team had real vision, given that they really were breaking new ground (in 3D). Yet, for a total of maybe five minutes spread throughout Mirror's Edge, I felt like I was really living up to the game's promise of power and grace.

Mirror's Edge is not Prince of Persia: Sands of Time but is dangerously close to the original Stuntman. Too often you want to take back a half-second twitch to save you from redoing the same tedious 90 seconds of tricky movement, but there you are again, staring at the same white loading screen and cursing at your aging reflexes.

The real breaking point for me, though, was the very end.

Few games have made me as emotional as Mirror's Edge. Regrettably, the emotion I felt -- red, blinding rage -- had nothing to do with the game's story or characters.

You see, I went through the prologue, the eight chapters, and 50% of the finale without firing a single shot. Instead of killing the murderous police officers and paramilitary soldiers I encountered, I had disarmed them and left them unconscious. I was well on my way to the Pacifist trophy that the game offers if you finish without killing anyone but the chap in the final confrontation.

But, I will never get that trophy and I'm never playing this game again. The last half of the finale profoundly angered me. A man can only eat so many cheap sniper shots, so many deaths by machine gun from over 75 meters away, so many attempts at a final tricky jump to a tiny ledge across a giant gap, so many degrading restarts.

I relented. I neutralized a sniper, picked up his gun, and carefully shot my enemies one by one. It felt good, honestly. For once, those jack-booted thugs got a taste of their own medicine, and I hope they felt a little stab of fear right before I trepanned their f---ing skulls. Then I popped every other man that dared step in front of me from there to the end of the game. And all I got was an incomprehensible cut scene and a promise of a sequel.

Sometimes I hate games so very much.

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--Matt Matthews at 21:40
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