Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Digital Illusions CE
Genre: First Person Adventure
Release Dates: November 12, 2008 (NA) / November 14, 2008 (EU)
Price: 15.94£ (Amazon)
Mirror's Edge is unique, fast and unforgiving, putting you in a strict governmentally-controlled city where the "Blues" are controlling everything and the only group standing between them and the total control of the city are the "Runners", highly trained and fast free runners that are doing their best to avoid the blues for as long as they can and live from the shadows, undisturbed by the oppression of the blues, which seemed to work just fine. You play as Faith, a young girl who was trained to become a runner after her mother died in what was the last attempt of revolution, and whose only relative that she cares about is her sister, a cop who was framed for the murder of the only man capable to make a chance, Robert Pope who was soon to become the new mayor of the city.
She then starts a mission of clearing her name and finding the ones who were truly behind the assassination as it is not only about her sister going to jail, but also about the future of the city which now seemed to remain under totalitarian oppression for a long time. This game isn't your typical open-world adventure, mostly because it isn't exactly open world: you can always see the city and how big it truly is, but you are limited to the area where you current task is, simply because you will spend most of your time jumping from a rooftop to another, and reaching to a different direction than the one where your objective is, is impossible. This isn't a bad thing, as the game will automatically move you from one area to another as the story progresses and even with its limitations you can still choose which route to take, even though sometimes the obvious one is the only one available.
The universe created for this game and the possibilities are enormous, however it never reaches its full potential; the campaign is indeed a powerful story about family and honesty, but the anime cutscenes between missions don't favour the plot at all, as they are merely dialogues between a few characters with some movement that most often feels out of place. The cast of characters is also impressive, but in the same way it feels disappointing as you never get to meet all of the runners and find more about their stories or the previous events and the conversations that you do have are just small talk without anything interesting to say that would affect your view of Mirror's Edge' universe.
The entire city is made to be your playground and so the game chooses to focus on just a few primary colours, with the white being predominant for almost anything around you, using red for objects that you may interact with and blue or green for secondary objects that are not necessarily a part of the free-running concept. Using this mechanic, the game manages to deliver a fast phased gameplay where the colours are your guiding instruments, but can sometimes become your disorientation tools as well as some objects such as stairs which will always be painted in red can be put on top of some cranes which will also be painted in red, making it hard to see where the stair is.
Aside from those small issues that are isolated to certain areas only, the free running mechanic runs smoothly and the entire game takes no more than five buttons + directions to control, making it easy to move fast as the game originally intended. Aside from the free running, there are certain shooting sequences where you must disarm one of the opponents and use his weapon to kill the others, and even though those work just as smoothly, they are not the thing that makes this game shine, but thankfully some of them are optional as you can avoid certain encounter with the enemies pursuing you and those that are however mandatory will be over before you know it.
Throughout the game you will use almost any combination of parkour manoeuvres, from wall jumps to flips, dodges and lots of jumping, and even though at first the entire thing will look hard to do at high speeds, once you get the hang of it you will amaze yourself with the tricks that you managed to pull off and a somehow impossible gap between building will suddenly become a piece of cake once you learn to use everything around you to your advantage. Aside from the free running that is exceptionally made, there is little to change the phase of the game, aside from turning a valve or pressing a button here and there in order to open a door and even though the hidden bags which act as the game's main and only collectible are a significant part of the game itself as you will be alerted by the game's logo on a wall when a bag is nearby, they will only distract you for a few seconds, and after that you're back to see where the story leads you.
Mirror's Edge looks awesome without the smallest doubt and seeing the entire city from the rooftops is impressive, even though you can't access most of it, but for a short game that is meant to take you from one corner of the city to the next one the environments look pretty much the same wherever you go and that is mostly due to the heavy use of white and red to favour the gameplay and even thought it does look unique and amazing at first, seeing the same white and red everywhere you go will eventually make everything seem dull. The PhysX effects do a great job, making glass shatter in realistic ways and explosions or water effects look even more amazing, topping that off with the superb character design makes the game look beautiful wherever you go, no matter who you interact with.
The game sounds as good as it looks, with effects realistic enough to make you feel each fall or wrong turn when you fail a jump and accidentally drop down a few meters or water splashes when you step into a puddle. The gun effects might not be as top notch as the ones you would see in a first person shooter, but they get the job done; the voice acting is decent, but aside from Faith you won't hear anything spectacular, and she doesn't even talk during the actual gameplay, only in cutscenes. The soundtrack is rhythmic with the action and always perfectly bonded with whatever is going on the screen, and the good part is that most of it will unlock as an extra once you finish the game so if you liked it you can listen to it how many times you want afterwards.
Sadly, the entire campaign only takes around 5 hours to complete and even though you do have a time trial and a speed run mode, you only have the playgrounds from the campaign at your disposal, so you will eventually grow tired of running around the same tracks, but at least you have online and friends leaderboards, so you can brag about your scores.
With its minor flaws, Mirror's Edge is still a must play, especially for those in search of a unique, eye-view experience, but unfortunately the game will only last for a few hours and after that aside from the time trial and speed run modes that might keep you busy for a couple more hours at best, there is nothing else to do.