Mirror's Edge Review

Mirror's Edge offers occasional thrills, provided that you can look past some awkward stumbles.

Like its heroine, Faith, Mirror's Edge tries to hurdle some significant obstacles, but unlike Faith, it can't always make the leap. No doubt, this fascinating action platformer possesses its share of innovations, from a first-person perspective to a clean and crisp visual style, yet it looks to the past more than you may initially notice. This is a modern-day iteration of an old-fashioned platformer, in which you're meant to play and replay sequences of jumps, grabs, and slides until you get them perfect, or at least perfect enough to continue. But unlike its ancestors, Mirror's Edge is more about speed and momentum, and when you can connect your moves in a flawless stream of silky movement, it's eminently thrilling and satisfying. Unfortunately, Mirror's Edge has a tendency to trip over its own feet, keeping you slipping and sliding blissfully along, only to have a tedious jumping puzzle or hazy objective put the brakes on. Leaderboard chasers looking to set a speed-run record will find Mirror's Edge to be pure gold. Others will give up, alienated by the inherent trial and error of the game's basic design. At the very least, there's nothing quite like it, and it deserves a cautious look from anyone who appreciates games that hew their own path.

No matter how fast she runs, Faith can't always escape danger.

Faith is a runner, in more ways than one. In the oppressed society of Mirror's Edge, runners are an underground network of couriers, carrying sensitive information and documents from sender to receiver. The content of these messages is never clear, and it doesn't matter much; rather, the story's conflict revolves around Faith's sister, a cop who is framed for the murder of a mayoral candidate who promised to bring change to the totalitarian government and bring hope to the runners living on the fringe. Soon, Faith is running for a different reason: to uncover the conspiracy at the heart of the murder and clear her sister's name. The story is straightforward, but it's interesting enough to keep you involved, and though it ends with a sequel-hinting cliffhanger, it wraps up things enough to feel fulfilling nonetheless. More intriguingly, the story plays out between missions in stylishly animated cutscenes, as well as scenes within the game engine itself, which also look attractive but feature a completely different art style. Both types look good, but the disparity is a little odd.

And so you run, across rooftops, through train stations, and along walls. As you run, you pick up speed and are able to string a number of moves together in rapid succession. You can slide under pipes, bound over railings, and leap across impossible-looking chasms, among other techniques. Of course, the most obvious twist in Mirror's Edge is that you do all of this from a first-person view, rather than with the typical third-person camera that we've come to expect. It's an interesting spin, if not wholly new, and it has a way of immersing you as you speed toward your destination. Actions such as balancing on a narrow beam, sliding under a ledge at top speed, and tumbling when you land a long jump are fun to execute and look neat, but it may also make you wonder how much fun it would be to see what Faith looks like when she pulls off these neat stunts, which isn't possible in this game.

Nevertheless, Mirror's Edge excels when you hit that snappy stride, and once you've found the best route through a particularly tricky scenario, it's exhilarating to rush through it without a care to weigh you down. But this doesn't happen the first time you do it, or even the fifth time. You will need to experiment and hone your skills, given that a simple mistake can send you plunging down onto the street below, or will at very least interrupt your stride. You're expected to play each level multiple times to learn the routes that best propel you along, which is great the 10th time around but is often an infuriating series of false starts, mistimed jumps, and full stops during the first few attempts. If you need a hand, you can hold a button to activate runner vision, which turns the camera toward your destination, but it's an imprecise solution that sometimes points you toward a short-term objective and at other times points you toward your long-term goal.

Geronimo!

Another inconsistently helpful tool comes directly from the game's impressive art design. Mirror's Edge is a game of visual contrasts, in which stark white environments contrast with vivid colors. It looks beautiful and clean, and it's a great way of demonstrating both the bleakness of an authoritarian society and the unique manner in which a runner would see the world--as an array of landing points and jumping opportunities. Important ramps, doorways, ladders, and other points of interest are painted in a vibrant red, which is an important visual cue in some of the broader levels. However, this element too is delivered inconsistently; in some cases, the red hue may not fade in until you are close to the pole or vaulting point in question, and in other cases, Mirror's Edge expects you to figure things out without this visual assistance.

For a game that relies on so much forward momentum, Mirror's Edge has a way of bringing the pace to a halt. Sometimes this is because of the nature of trial-and-error gameplay: fall, die, reload checkpoint. At other times, it's because you're faced with an intricate jumping puzzle that eschews the sense of speed entirely, such as one that has you descending into the depths of the water-supply system and then up again. These aren't bad, but they're not particularly engaging, either; you're likelier to feel relieved rather than fulfilled when you reach your destination. Or you'll be zooming along, only to find yourself in an elevator, reading the news crawl on the wall's electronic panel while the level apparently loads in the background. In all of these cases, you're torn from the experience and reminded that this is, after all, just a game.

Armed enemies further complicate matters. It's best to run right past them when possible, but their bullets have a way of bringing you to your knees as you rush around looking for the best escape route. Some foe-heavy scenarios are particularly annoying, such as a sniper-loaded sequence in the final level. You can confront the threat head-on in some cases, but it requires careful planning and excellent timing. You can perform some close-combat moves such as jump kicks and punches, but these are best when used as hit-and-run tactics; trying to engage in melees with more than one or two enemies at a time is a quick path to the most recent checkpoint. Conversely, you can disarm an enemy in a quick-time event, pressing the disarm button when your foe's weapon flashes red. If you want to hold on to it, you can fire off a few shots until the clip runs out. However, Faith is ultravulnerable to gunfire, and the gunplay is loose and unfulfilling. If you have trouble keeping things in check (it takes some split-second timing to land a pitch-perfect disarm), you can enter a limited-use slow-motion mode, which comes in handy and makes some of these action-focused moves look cool, though it ultimately doesn't add much to the gameplay.

If you can overlook the array of quirks long enough to find your stride, you'll want to check out the beat-your-record races and level speed runs. Both modes feature online leaderboards, and both cater to the players likeliest to get the most out of Mirror's Edge. In a sense, the single-player story is simply a practice run for being a virtual show-off, yet the players repeating these levels (who will learn them to perfection) are also the ones likely to see Mirror's Edge at its most thrilling. You will want to break out an Xbox 360 controller if you want to get the most out of the experience. The keyboard-and-mouse setup is decent but occasionally awkward, and it can't compete with the interesting (but intuitive) gamepad controls.

You'll be seeing red, both literally and figuratively.

The unusually crisp visuals have seen some nice additional touches on the PC, such as fluttering industrial plastic over a few doorways, and symbolic flags undulating in the wind. The audio also deserves high praise. Sound effects such as Faith's breathy heaves and plodding footsteps are authentic touches that heighten the sense of speed and tension. The voice acting is equally terrific, but it's the pulsing, driving soundtrack that impresses most. Its rhythmic flow augments Faith's most fluid runs, whereas subtle ambient chords fill in the silence during downtimes. The superb musical journey culminates in a fantastic vocal track that plays during the game's final credits.

Mirror's Edge is many things: invigorating, infuriating, fulfilling, and confusing. It isn't for everybody, and it stumbles often for a game that holds velocity in such high esteem. But even with all of its foibles and frustrations, it makes some impressive leaps; it just doesn't nail the landing.

The Good
Flawless runs provide a total rush
Clean, striking visual design
Fantastic sound effects and music
The Bad
Frustrating amount of trial and error
Cramped jumping puzzles trip up the momentum
Combat and gunplay are weak
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Mirror's Edge (2008)

About the Author

GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play Rock Band because he always gets stuck pla

Discussion

23 comments
NikIvRu
NikIvRu

Got the game recently on Humble Bundle and all I can say is "Thank God, I didnt pay the full price" :
1.The game is WAY too precise - if it's gonna be that precise at least put some saving mechanic like the time rewind in Prince of Persia.I dont wanna die just because I missed a pipe by an inch.
2.The combat makes no sense - why is the only way of picking a gun by disarming(which is also way too precise). If you defeat a guard you should be able to pick his gun.
3.The game is hard but short - only 9 chapters.But knowing how frustrating the game is I am actually thankful for that.

Gaming-Planet
Gaming-Planet

I've enjoyed it so far.

Plays well on the keyboard/mouse. The puzzles are nice too but don't feel as rewarding. The game is sort of easy o.O well, for me it is. Doesn't seem to be the case for everyone. 

404FredNotFound
404FredNotFound

Even after all these years I still hold a special place for this game, just today got it on the Humble Bundle, do play on playing it again, just hope ME2 becomes has special has this one.

JacketsNest101
JacketsNest101

Honestly, for me, this game was more difficult when I played with a USB Xbox controller. The gunplay was worse with the console control layout. I personally think that the mouse and keyboard are the best way to play this game.

mddma
mddma

This game is unique and awesome, its one of the most adrenaline filled games out there. Plays just fine with a keyboard n mouse it aint hard at all, maybe few sequences were you have to replay two or three times. This game needs a sequel ASAP 

SKULLguy
SKULLguy

Can't tell you how much i love this clean , smooth , rhythmic , flawless  game.

netskot
netskot

incredibly frustrating game where you have to laugh at the lack of any consistent game mechanism. you can press the buttons exactly the same way twice and have different outcomes. i'm just nearly finished and am finishing it just for the sake of finishing. i'll skip the sequel if it maintains the same mechanics. 

spastikman
spastikman

One of the most underrated games of the last few years. I'm honestly flabbergasted by you kids' complaint that it was too hard or too short or not FPS (Call of Duty)-enough.

It's not Call of Duty where they line a bunch of "bad guys" for you to easily mow down. Get over it. I think if they had made the character a boy, or if Faith had huge breasts that bounced around throughout the game, this would have received a much higher rating.

saber310
saber310

pretty good game and only $3 on steam. Kinda reminds me of pepsi the game on PSOne

Goofy3000
Goofy3000

This is the worst game

I've ever played with all the trails and errors which makes it very frustrating to start off with , the game is to short period !!!!!!!!!!!! 

I finished it the first day I bought it , yes the graphics are great but they could have done something to make it more interesting or longer , the fighting mechanism stinks if you beat them you have to run away my rating for this game is a 4.5  

CrysisFPS
CrysisFPS

I'm amazed by the overly negative comments here. Seriously, guys! You seem to think that acrobatics should be as easy as sitting on the couch. I've gone through 8 chapters and I can only recall about 3 or 4 cases where there was any noteworthy trial and error. The keyboard controls worked just fine for me; in fact, from the looks of things it would be a pain to play on a console controller.

 

The combat takes some time to get used to and FPSing is not the main focus, in fact it's encouraged that you try and avoid direct confrontations when possible. It's more about platforming. Yes, it is a little clunky but how often do you get the thrill of leaping across rooftops with fantastic environments and First-person perspective? There are thrilling gameplay moments in this game that would have been replaced with a cutscene in just about any other title. I'm just wondering if impatient people have not been willing to give this innovative game a chance, or just expected the game to practically play for them.

mrac1234
mrac1234

It is frustrating, and so overrated on metacritic, it deserves 5-6 point max. I don't see the great velocity that many reviews promise, just fall-being shoot-do it again pattern all the time. Beautifull graphics do not save the gameplay.

Happily it is short (5-6h of gameplay) and I paid for it only 2.49 on steam sale.

Bowser05
Bowser05

I'm not sure what to say. Everybody seems to say this game is frustrating but I've had very little problems with this game. Perhaps it is because I've played a lot of platform games and adventure games so I have a very good sense of jump timing and tricks that can be done. I'm not sure, but I'm about halfway done and had a little trouble doing one part so I just approached it a different way and problem was solved. Also I think the controls are just fine. Are you guys just not used to playing games on the PC? I'm used to playing games on PC so I'm used to knowing how to press multiple buttons all the time. I don't know, so far I'm thoroughly enjoying the game and don't get all the complaints.

Frencho9
Frencho9

Crap game, i agree, it frustrates the shit out of anyone and the PC version is a very poor port with framerate issues on a 580 GTX and keyboard and mouse is just shit, 10 000 buttons to press.

Aceconn
Aceconn

Way too much trial and error,I dont pay for a game so I can get that frustrated.

 

groovyreg
groovyreg

More of a tech demo than a game. Utterly frustrating. Threw it in the bin midway through level four after falling in the same location for the twentieth time. Those who enjoy a frustratingly inconsistent challenge may get something out of this but it's not for the mainstream.  Yes, it does look great, but this doesn't make up for a dearth of fun.

Alexk91
Alexk91

Despite the disappointing storyline, and frustrating trial and error of this game, I would love to see Dice take another crack at it to see if they could nail it second time around.

Granpire
Granpire

I think this game deserved more praise than it got. It's unique, exhilarating, and visually (and aurally) striking. Sure, the gunplay is weak, but using weapons isn't the point. I can't really think of another first-person game that's quite so visceral.

GameRaterx
GameRaterx

@maxim its because your hand position is weird because of where they locate the jump, crouch, roll, turn around buttons

MaxiM_
MaxiM_

If anyone had any doubts that reviewers get paid for promoting more expensive, console versions of multiplatform games, this is the best proof. Mouse and keyboard awkward in FPS style game? Mmmmmmkay...

JacketsNest101
JacketsNest101

@GameRaterx It's not weird at all, they made very good decisions with how they placed the buttons. LShift is down action, Space is up action , normal W, A, S, D movement controls, and Q as the turn around button. Seems like they did that to allow you to use the keyboard controls with one hand. After all, that is exactly what mouse and keyboard controls are supposed to do.

Mirror's Edge (2008) More Info

Follow
  • First Released
    • PC
    • PS3
    • Xbox 360
    EA DICE's new first-person action adventure game will allow you to move in ways never before seen in a first-person game.
    8
    Average User RatingOut of 9550 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Mirror's Edge (2008)
    Developed by:
    EA DICE
    Published by:
    ak tronic, EA Games
    Genres:
    Open-World, Adventure, Action, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Language, Violence