Mirror's Edge

Mirror's Edge
Mirror's Edge Cover
Platforms Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Genre Parkour platformer
MtAMinutes to Action 3
Keep Playing? Yes
Buy from Amazon

New genres don't come around that often, but genre mash-ups have been popular lately. Mirror's Edge is a first person platformer, with a dash of shooting and a few heaps of parkour thrown in for good measure. Plenty of first person shooters have tried to integrate platforming, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter immediately jumps to mind, but that was a disaster. Mirror's Edge takes what works from a game like Assassin's Creed with its assisted climbing and fluid action and sticks it in a first person view.

To some, this may sound great, others are undoubtedly skeptical, the rest of you have already played this two year old game and made up your own mind (nobody ever said the First Hour was timely *groan*). I've been intrigued by Mirror's Edge since its release, but the opportunity to play it never came up until Steam had it on sale for about $5 earlier this year. So I bought it and tossed it on my proverbial digital backlog, only to finally get around playing it now when my brother-in-law lent me his copy on the Xbox 360. No, I didn't play it on the Xbox, but it did encourage me to finally get around to it on the PC (odd how that works).

So here's my first hour review of Mirror's Edge, Steve previously wrote a full review on the game with a stunning gallery of self-taken screenshots at the bottom.

Minute by Minute

00 - I select New Game and the first hour of Mirror’s Edge begins. Normal difficulty seems fine for my first time, and the game begins loading. A woman begins narrating about how the city used to pulse with energy, “dirty and dangerous.” But now it’s clean, I guess? The government or city began to crack down, and now it’s nothing like how it was before.

01 - Runners are the new heartbeat of the city, helping out the dissidents in town.

02 - The game’s real graphics appear and training starts according to a man. I get control. Space jumps, shift crouches, tab opens up my objectives. Red objects is my runner vision, basically the game’s hint on where to go.

03 - I jump over my first gap... woah, almost didn’t make it. Had to climb up the side. Even though I’m a runner I don’t feel particularly fast. A woman named Celeste appears, she runs off after saying hi and I’m supposed to follow her.

04 - Oooh, I can wall run like the Prince of Persia. You have to press Mouse 1 to open doors, I guess it’s like my arm button.

Mirrors Edge Faith Colorful City

06 - This is a pretty good tutorial, covering all the basics. Oh no, shimmying! I hate to shimmy. Celeste just pulled off this crazy wall jump. You have to press Space Q Space to pull that off.

07 - Now Celeste just held onto a long beam and ziplined it down. Umm... shouldn’t the palms of her hand be burned off from that friction?

08 - I barely land in the landing zone, phew. Wow, I rolled when I landed on the ground and the camera followed the roll the whole way through. Never seen that in a first person game before.

10 - Celeste finally holds up and we begin sparring. Click the mouse button to punch. After a few more punches and kicks, I learn how to weapon disarm with Mouse 2. After stealing the gun I accidentally shoot Celeste, whoops.

12 - Next I disarm Celeste from the front, stealing the gun when it turns red. And then I learn some kind of bullet time thing where time slows down, making it even easier to steal.

13 - All right, the game begins! Opening cutscene starts with Faith looking around the city and then beginning to run on her own. The city is almost completely white, red, and blue.

Mirrors Edge Celeste Profile14 - Financial District - 1:58 PM. I regain control. And then fall off the building. *crunch*

16 - My path highlighted in red makes decisions on where to go simple, but it definitely reduces frustration on where to go.

17 - Oh, holy crap, I fell to the ground and saw people walking around just before I died. Freaky. Supposedly my location has been tipped off and “some blues are on their way.”

19 - Intense spot, Faith lands among some bad guys and I’m off to the races. Bullets are whizzing by me at every turn.

20 - One guy needs disarming so I get his head in and then steal his gun. Another baddie up ahead gets a chest full of bullets. The whole shooting aspect feels out of place, even for a first person game.

22 - Awesome! I toss Celeste the bag I picked up, jump off a building and grab on to the news helicopter! We catch of glimpse of Faith hanging there in a building’s reflection. Mission complete. Another cutscene at night starts.

23 - The cutscenese are cel-shaded, much more heavily than the in-game graphics that is. Faith is in her hideout monitoring police chatter.

24 - An alarm goes off, Kate’s in trouble. Who’s Kate?

25 - Man, this game is gorgeous. Anyway, turns out Kate is Faith’s sister, Merc arrived just in time to give Faith some support. Time to head out.

26 - I encounter a high voltage fence, the game cues me off by roasting a rat just before I get there.

27 - *crunch*

29 - Movement is so incredibly smooth, but I’m thankful the route is colored in red, I didn’t know where to go until I saw a red door in the distance. I enter a building and then head into its elevator. Quiet moment, except for the ad playing.

30 - Kate’s alive, but there’s a dead guy. Robert Pope, a friend of their father. Oh, Kate is a police officer. The whole cutscene plays out from Faith’s eyes.

32 - Kate isn’t going to run, she’s not like her sister. We share a quick hug and then I’m on my way.

33 - Hmm... I get stuck and am shot by the following S.W.A.T. team. Not sure where to go.

35 - This time I made it a little further but got stuck again, before I could figure out where to go the police had caught up. At least the checkpoints seem reasonable.

38 - Geez, this is pretty exciting. In an epic moment I slide down a curved roof with a helicopter shooting at me the whole time and shards of glass falling with me. Awesome.

40 - There’s not a whole lot of red objects marked during these chases, but the levels seemed designed well enough that they’re not needed. I make it into a building, run around some baddies and slip into the elevator closing the door behind me. What will I find above me?

41 - I’m surprised they didn’t just shut down the elevator. Haha, there’s televisions ahead of me with news updates on Pope’s murder. Dang, thought they were going to talk about me! *crunch*

44 - Man, this is crazy. I’m on the ground now running for my life. Punched out some cops, okay, back to the game.

46 - I slide down another roof and then through a glass ceiling. A guy named Kreeg is there to meet up with me and where off together. Cutscene with the whole gang: Faith, Celeste, and Merc (Faith’s handler).

47 - The evidence Faith lifted from Pope’s crime scene says “Icarus.” It’s our only clue. This somehow clues Faith into the idea she needs to meet up with a guy named Jack Knife.

Mirrors Edge Faith Celeste cel Shaded Cutscene

49 - An overheard newscast confirms they have Kate in custody and are still looking for me. I’m running through some canals and a helicopter starts shooting at me because I’m breaking city law. Geez, talk about harsh penalties.

50 - All right, I guess Mirror’s Edge decided to up the ante. Before now I only noticeably got shot once while running around, now I just got gunned down! There’s a visible red laser now so I guess I get to avoid that too.

52 - We thankfully make it out of the canals and inside a building. A valve lights up red, time to turn it (no idea why though).

55 - I’m in a giant storm drain now after riding a crane down. Where to go...? Ah, need to swing on some lights. Heading down into the earth.

57 - A race against a clock to open a giant door, run over to it, and slide under before it closes again. I die after I decide not to slide and apparently bump my head on the closing door. Lame.

58 - I make it easily this time. This city is so clean, even their sewers are clean.

60 - The first hour ends with me still in the giant drainage sewer but with some company, a S.W.A.T. sniper team that decided to join in the fun!

First Hour Summary

Mirrors Edge Faith Profile PonderMinutes to Action: 3

What I loved: Horrifyingly satisfying crunch sound when you fall to the street. It's one of those sounds I can't get enough of but never want to hear again.

Mirror's Edge has that great in-the-zone feeling where the game plays beautifully when everything is going right. Leaping from building to building, climbing up pipes, sliding under signs, scaling fences... it all just feels amazing. You get a great sense of euphoria from being so good.

It's hard not to look at the game's graphics and marvel at just how simplistic and gorgeous they are. The city spans on forever and is architecturally impressive, and the color palette chosen is so utterly basic it's a wonder how it enhances the atmosphere so much. You can tell just by looking at the screenshots what kind of mood the city is in. Impressive.

What I didn't like: I'm concerned with the hand to hand combat and shooting going on in Mirror's Edge. Nothing rips you out of your parkour-high faster than a bunch of soldiers shooting bullets at you (I imagine this is also true in real life). Fighting seems simple, but it breaks up the game's all-too-important rhythm.

Would I Keep Playing? Yes! I'm in love with the parkour gameplay and while Mirror's Edge's plot doesn't really hold my interest too much, I'm curious to see where the various levels will take me. I'm hoping to have a full review up by the end of the year.