Back again! Things sure have been up in the air lately, but it’s nice to be posting again. During the hiatus, I got to meet Andrew Radical’s son. There’s a little chef in that kid! Not only that, but your gastronomic gamer girl has her first podcast up and running with the unquestionable genius known as Joey the Mad Scientist. You can check us out here!
You know, I like to run. I just got into it. Once you get past certain hurdles in the beginning; a shortness of breath inspired by lungs still eradicating cigarette tar, a pain that settles in the general tit region until you get a sports bra, and after you assure your feet that you will have a better pair of shoes for them to slip into by next paycheck (suckers!) you hit a point where it all becomes more manageable. And then? Yeah, it starts feeling awesome. A mile is possible. And then two. And then three. Before you know it, you become that asshole who likes to run, and flashes peace signs at the end of a race.
She’s gotta run.
Mirror’s Edge was developed by EA owned Swedish company DICE, and published by EA back in 2009. The parkour adventure was received relatively well, and EA has stated that this first installment will be part of an epic on-foot trilogy.
Not too far into the future, the promise of Big Brother has come true. As per his instruction, everything is painted a hue of white, blue, orange and green, and when people talk on the Interwebz about how much they hate this color scheme they disappear. So, to get around this, “Runners” are employed to deliver messages by foot, often times bounding and leaping across buildings, plummeting to their death, and then repeating the process until they have reached their destination, or a tutorial level.
In this last respect, that’s where you come in. You play Faith, a Runner with a turbulent past now back after a “nasty fall” (lol). Your boss, Merc, runs you through your paces. You leap across buildings, shimmy across ledges, shoot down ziplines, bounce between walls, beat up your friend in a disarming tutorial that is actually foreshadowing the way your mind will eventually fall apart, and shortly thereafter your sister is framed for the murder of mayoral candidate Robert Pope.
The reason for his death is at first unknown and unmotivated, but considering his platform of “change” meant no more totalitarian keggers, it’s not hard to see how Big Brother might have wanted to put an end to his political career. Helping the police force continue their 24/7 4th Reichteousness Party is Project Icarus, an urban summer camp mostly – definitely – developing their own breed of super parkour ninjas to take out Faith, as well as the whole Runner organization.
As Faith you are both a threat to the regime and acrophobics everywhere. The game definitely succeeds in giving you an idea of depth as you leap buildings, and when you fall you get to stay tuned for the entire descent until you end with a wet crunch at the bottom. Driven mad by her sense of duty as well as the constant cycle of life and death, Faith has started to see red.
Objects that can give you an extra leg up in your skyline navigation will illuminate in red, which is awesome in a bleached world where the building across from your ledge sort of bleeds together in a white perspective blur. This is not such a big problem until you are running at full speed, and need to make that jump, but can’t see the bloody edge. Rare, but those moments suck.
See, the game is supposed to be a lot like this.
And to its credit, once you get a good “flow” going (I still can’t believe they called it flow) it is a lot like that, and there is a certain achievement to sticking each landing and then some. Sometimes this is marred by the fact that you have died for the kergillionth time and are in fact retracing your steps. As much as I would like to save in between the really long ass checkpoints, Mirror’s Edge does not come with a manual save feature. Instead, it prefers to keep me immersed in a Sisyphean grind that has me grinning like Dae-Su in Old Boy by the end of one sitting.
I’m a huge fan of immersive game play, but I’m past the point of feeling like my “immersive experience” can be shattered just by saving my game whenever it tickles my thumb-numbed fancy. Let me save!
Would hate for you to miss your- kyai! – train!
If gravity was not enough, you also have to deal with the fuzz, and they range from hall monitor to full-on S.W.A.T. You have the option of lighting the swine up, or you can drive yourself to a frenzied, obsessive end by attempting to beat the game without shooting a single one of ‘em. To do any of that, of course, you have to disarm them. Now, you do have the ability to slow time down to make it easier to disarm, but the recharge is ass. You can also beat the donut-loving tar out of them, too. Also, you can do none of these and see if those hours of Rock Band have improved your sense of timing. A weapon will go red when you can take it, and this effect lasts for half a millionth of a nano-second.
It’s good to want things.
Recovering from a pistol or rifle whip is wicked, and the recovery is mercilessly slow, as one can expect after getting their face bashed by weapons. By the second cold cock you are down on the ground… and back to retracing your steps again. Would be awesome to see this system revisited and tweaked, and maybe I’m picky, but right now the whole “let’s get Beelzebub himself to design our disarm system” thing just isn’t working for me. Sorry.
The game really is not all bad. It can be really fun. The time trials were a blast, and as long as the game stuck with the outside levels, I was more than happy to keep exploring new ways around them. Some cut scenes are in-game, which absolutely will always get a nod from me. Not all cut scenes work this way though. In between levels you are treated to some really stylish cinematics that remind me of a pop-anime paper animation.
Would you like to try my Kentucky fried gun?
Sort of like Gendy Tartakovsky’s stuff, especially the kind of Samurai Jack stylings that are sorely missed. But that’s a whole ‘nother something-something entirely.
Rounding out the basket of goodies this game can boast is a pretty awesome soundtrack. Lisa Miskovsky provides an awesome theme in “Still Alive”. She is not alone, the soundtrack also comes from artists like Paul van Dyk, Armand Van Helden , Junkie XL, and Benny Benassi.
I would definitely check out any future Mirror’s Edge games, and I definitely don’t regret playing it. There is some fun to be had with this game, and there was so much potential that when the game did trip up, I could not help but heave a sigh. Not just out of frustration, but out of disappointment. Because where the game is good, it’s good, but unfortunately those moments of sheer gaming bliss are just too far and few between. The bad parts of the game make it hard to enjoy the better game just waiting to happen. I expected a much more minimalist game, but instead got an overcrowded Portal. Perhaps the trip ups would not be so bad, except in a game like this the slightest misstep usually means the biggest fall.
SCORE: 5 out of 10
Gameplay & Mechanics 1
Where there is replayability in the time trials as well as exterior levels of the game, and where the design of the game really was sharp and complete, the decent sound track could not save a leaden story, nor could it change the fact that the controls were just too shaky to ever really get a clear handle on. I’m still going to check out the sequel, but I really would like to see some changes in the future. This one’s a diamond in the rough, it just needs the right push to really shine!
Stay tuned for the dish inspired by the game: Red Velvet Cake!