REVIEW: Mirror’s Edge

3 1/2 stars

(out of 5)
XBox 360 version reviewed

Mirror’s Edge from DICE is a good example what happens when you take a great concept and shoddily execute it. Here we have unique “strong color” environments to run around in, unique controls to make otherwise-impossible moves possible, and some neat special effects like tunnel-visioning the player’s perspective as they move faster. And they’re all marred by one aspect that no one paid much attention to in game testing: WHERE THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO GO? I found myself dying more than any other in game in recent history due to making blind jumps, being rushed to make jumps, or being utterly confused as to where to go next during a police chase and having them catch up to me.

The game tries to help you out of your confusion sometimes with what DICE calls “runner’s vision,” which makes certain interact-able objects turn red. This concept is only half-assedly followed through though. To make matters worse, sometimes the place you need to go next is just simply hidden from where a player would normally look. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by Portal and it’s excellent use of visual cues (like the collapsing ladder in the last level whose sole job it was to make you look at where you needed to go next), but Mirror’s Edge definitely could use a lot more of them.

Fighting is another aspect Mirror’s Edge fumbles on. I found it a bit ridiculous that the time-frame for me to turn my opponent’s pistol whip against him was at the end of the animation sequence sometimes, when in theory that would mean that my opponent has already hit me. I also found it a bit ridiculous that opponents seem all too eager to pistol whip at close range instead of blowing my fool head off. Oh, and we also have the stale old video game trope whereby guns have infinite ammo until you get to use them.

For all these problems, keep in mind Mirror’s Edge kept me playing straight from beginning to end in one playthrough. Once you get past the problems, you’ll find an exhilarating game based on some solid game-play ideals. When things are going your way, you can move Faith around with quickness and beauty, and getting past the bad guys with grace and ease. The problem is that when things don’t go your way, it often results in death. Over and over and over and over and over again.