Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Mirror's Edge (Playstation 3)

EA and DICE have taken a huge risk with the release of Mirror's Edge, an unconventional title that takes gamers to incredible heights in a high-tension game where speed, dexterity and danger follow your every step. Playing as a runner named Faith, you need to jump, leap and climb over the rooftops and chasms of a futuristic metropolis while avoiding the ever-present police who are constantly on the lookout for you. Avoiding helicopters, gunfire and snipers, you need to escape them through any means whether that means climbing through vents, hanging from bars or traversing dangerously narrow boards. An intuitive control scheme allows you to plenty of dexterity and freedom to complete your missions, and the game's structure offers a mix of linear and open-ended quests. Mirror's Edge is a solidly entertaining game that offers challenge, depth and sophisticated puzzles in a sleek package.

Set on the rooftops and hidden fringes of a futuristic repressed city, Mirrorís Edge casts the player as Faith, a subversive runner with incredible skill. She has the ability to run over the rooftops, jump and slide, run on the sides of walls and performs a variety of acrobatic stunts. She does this in the service of a service which handles and transports information in bags throughout the city. Her activities havenít gone un-noticed by the authorities, who are in constant pursuit of her and will stop at nothing to end her service. This is all told in a series of beautifully minimalist cinema sequences, which showcase the gameís futuristic, techno design. Itís works together beautifully with the cityís look and feel, with itís high-tech glass and steel skyscrapers, cluttered rooftops and massive jumps to create a sense of height and scale thatís both impressive and intimidating. The gameís visuals retain a consistency throughout that helps you to keep focused on your mission. Itís environments are impressive in their sense of scale with vast expanses, huge drops. Architecturally, thereís a real sense of place and being in the center of a thriving city. The gameís animations are excellent as well, giving you a smooth looking adventure thatís thoroughly believable. There are bright, almost blinding lights contrasting with the shadow of your character that appears at the fringe from time to time. Overall, DICE has created a visually arresting title that mixes cutting edge design with a streamlined interface. Mirrorís Edge does an excellent job with its presentation. It feels quite futuristic throughout, and every element from the charactersí tattoos and clothing looks fantastic. Its interface, menus and visuals have a consistent clean and minimalist feel that creates a cool atmosphere while making your next step remarkably clear. A subtle techno soundtrack adds to the atmosphere, which is simultaneously stylish and dangerous, giving the game a unique feel thatís both alive and static. There are moments of sheer adrenaline, where you run through the levels at a frenetic pace along with times where you need to look around and plan your next step. It creates a good sense of balance between action and puzzles that makes the overall experience aesthetically impressive. As you can tell, It looks very stylish but thereís enough substance below the glossy surface to make for a worthwhile gaming experience underneath the stylish design.

As one of the city's elite runners, the lead character Faith has a remarkable set of moves at her disposal, which allows her to jump and leap across the rooftops and high-rises with surprising dexterity and style. It seems very complicated at first but, Mirror's Edge has a surprisingly intuitive control system that makes for an easy to learn approach. The game's clean appearance makes a lot of this easier to understand, with the minimalist approach allowing you to concentrate on movement instead of messing around with the interface. You'll probably spend some time early on falling frequently, but once you get the hang of things and get used to Mirror's Edge's pacing, things get much easier. Mirror's Edge gives players some sophisticated tasks to perform, and it isn't as simple as it first seems. It's first person perspective feels a bit odd when it comes to jumping, and you'll find yourself leaping to nowhere often, at least initially. Fortunately, you have two aids at your disposal that help keep you on your feet. The first thing is a small dot in the center of the screen that you can use to see where Faith's viewpoint and center of gravity is, which helps to make adjustments. The other aid comes with the fact that the next target objective is usually painted bright red, which also helps to make things easier. Finally, players can hold down the circle button and the camera will automatically point to the direction and location of the next objective. This is quite handy if you get a little disoriented and if the next section is a little bit unclear. This makes for a much easier game that allows you to go forward on instinct, giving you a sense of freedom that is quite impressive throughout.

Reliance on your own gut feelings is important because not all of Faith's objectives are painted bright red and you'll have to use your instincts in some situations to find the best path. You have a great deal of freedom in certain sections, which means you can choose a faster, but more dangerous path or take a slower, safer approach. The game's controls are relatively simple but take some getting used to. You run using the left analog stick, with the faster runs creating momentum that allows you to leap over larger spaces. In order to jump, you merely press the left shift key, which also doubles as a context sensitive key that allows you to grab onto objects. Players can also use this when they're hanging from a ledge to climb up. This is also useful when swinging from bars and climbing as well, which are also relatively easy to perform, though the techniques take some getting used to. Mirror's Edge also lets you perform some pretty spectacular moves such as wall running, which you can do by running towards the wall and pressing the jump button, which allows you to sprint across a wide area very quickly. Faith will also encounter sections where she has to kick in doors, which can be done easily by pressing the right shift button, this also doubles as an attack button when you come into contact with the numerous law enforcement officers. One of the more interesting aspects of the game is that while you're frequently find yourself running from gunfire, using weapons isn't as easy or simple as it seems. They slow you down, take longer to use and aren't as accurate as throwing an enemy, which instantly disables them. It seems a little counter-intuitive at first, but Mirror's Edge rewards skill more than brute force and it's this subtlety that makes the game so appealing.

For example, there are areas where Faith has to balance herself on narrow beams or boards, which requires you to tilt her center of gravity a little bit here and there to avoid falling. It's not as difficult as it seems thanks to the intuitive controls that allow you to guide her over these sections. The context sensitive controls also have a special ability that allows her to slow down time for a few moments, which helps her further in tricky situations. In addition, she can use the X button to interact with buttons and switches as well as take guns from any guards unlucky enough to be in her path. Learning the game's controls and techniques takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be running around effortlessly. The key to timing her jumps is to anticipate the gap, build up some speed and aim her in the right direction. You can miss by a little in some areas and still make it, but other jumps require more accuracy which can be frustrating, but also exhilarating once you complete them. The game's pacing and structure is excellent in this regard, gradually increasing the level of difficulty throughout each chapter until you find yourself performing multiple moves in rapid succession effortlessly, which helps build your confidence when you face the ever more elaborate sections later on.

Each level is designed to challenge the player's abilities, and Mirror's Edge has a structure and style that gradually ups the difficulty without making things seem overly difficult. While there are many areas that are quite hard to get through, the game compensates for this with very frequent save points, so you aren't penalized too severely for mistakes. It can take several attempts until you're successful, but you can help yourself by scanning the immediate area for objects and supports that can be useful. You might see nothing but a few pipes in the distance but jumping onto these and sliding down can lead you to another platform. Nothing in the levels feels impossible, and you'll find answers if you look for them and think for awhile. The game's puzzles and obstacles are quite elaborate, and take some thought to pass through. It definitely requires a lot of skill, but it's smartly designed to allow experimentation and risk-taking, so you only need persistence to get through your missions. In this area, the game shines, and instead of seeming a bit out of place, the jumping and running aspects allow for a great sense of freedom when it comes to exploring your options in each section.

In addition to its immersive solo story mode, players can revisit previously played missions in Time Attack mode and try and complete them as fast as they can. Running against the clock adds to the challenge and makes your missions feel even more urgent. You can't really pause in these sections to figure out where to go next, so you need to know the layouts beforehand if you want to beat the stated time and earn trophies. This adds to its replay value and makes for an extremely polished game that delivers quite an exciting and refreshingly different style of play. There's been a lot of misperceptions about what Mirror's Edge is trying to accomplish, and while those looking at the screen shots will probably expect a standard first-person shooter, this would be wrong. Those assuming it's going to deliver something along those lines are bound to be disappointed. What the game really offers is a slick version of the puzzle platforming genre in the vein of Prince of Persia or Tomb Raider. There are a lot of similarities in the way the game plays and how the game is structured, and Mirror's Edge largely succeeds in its goals. It's intuitive controls, challenging puzzles and excellent level design present a consistently engaging title that brings a fresh look to the genre. It's not always perfect in the control department, which can lead to some frustrating plunges and frequent restarts, but once you get the hang of things and build some skills, you'll discover an engaging and fresh experience. Mirror's Edge is a very slickly-designed title as well, with it's futuristic, almost disturbingly clean design. Running from the ever-present police adds to the constant feelings of being watched adds a level of danger and urgency to each mission that motivates you to run as fast as you can. Between the complex jumping puzzles and intuitive controls, Mirror's Edge delivers an exciting and occasionally breathtaking gaming experience, making this one leap worth taking.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B+

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