On the Edge of Greatness
The first element of the game I'd like to comment about is the story. I don't get it…I don't get why people didn't like this story. Sure, it's not Shakespeare, but for an action romp, it's pretty tight. I actually felt a real connection between Faith (the main character) and her sister. The pacing made sense, the dialogue worked (for the most part), and everything wrapped up in a way that left me satisfied, even if there was ample room for a sequel.
Of course, the story is such that it clears a fat path for gameplay, and it's almost impossible to fault Mirror's Edge in any way in that regard. Some folks had issues with the combat, but there's really nothing wrong with it. Faith isn't meant to be a killer. When she carries a larger gun, she moves slower, her aim isn't great – all things that make sense for this character. Hit detection was spot-on, enemies don't take a thousand rounds to take down – really, I had no problems with the combat. I will admit to getting frustrated toward the end of the game, simply because I wanted to earn the "Test of Faith" trophy by not shooting any enemies in my first playthrough. It was a trying task at times, but I was still successful, which, to me, speaks volumes about the game design.
The focus of Mirror's Edge, however, is, of course, on the free running (parkour). There's going to be a lot of trial and error as you attempt to navigate levels, and it can certainly be frustrating when you don't know where you need to go, yet enemies are shooting at you the whole time you're trying to find a way forward. Now, this is an issue we had to deal with in games like Half-Life 2, but it's amplified in Mirror's Edge due to the fact that the way forward usually requires some fancy parkour trickery. Regardless of how you slice it, Mirror's Edge is the type of game that is more fun the second or third time through. If you can accept that about the game, there's a mass payoff in extreme endorphin release. If, however, you find that sort of approach to game design infuriating, well then, this probably isn't the game for you.
Most of my criticisms with the game lie in the technical side of things. The visuals are often gorgeous (from afar) and there's nothing that looks quite like Mirror's Edge. The framerate was never an issue, but the PS3 version has some pretty fugly screen tearing. The worst problems I had, however, were pretty regular lock-ups and jarring loads. A $60 game (when it released) shouldn't leave the factory in such a state. We're talking about a game that was obviously packaged as a AAA title, and the game locks up way too often. Additionally, the game loads at some of the most inopportune times. It's a free-running experience; you shouldn't get stopped in your tracks mid-jump by a friggin' load screen – come on!
Of course, many folks also complained about the length of the game, and honestly, it's hard to argue with that. I thought the story mode was the perfect length, but there should have been more to the package, really. The time trials and speed-run mode are great additions, but the experience isn't different enough to make you feel like you're getting your money's worth. To add insult to injury, EA wants to charge an additional $10 for DLC for a six-hour-long game. Not great marketing.
In spite of my complaints, at $15 (what I paid new for the game), Mirror's Edge makes such a wonderful addition to my growing library of PS3 games. I absolutely adore the meat of the game, though I'm occasionally frustrated by its technical shortcomings. If you're into games like Prince of Persia – with a focus on free running over combat – definitely check the game out. Mirror's Edge is dirt cheap now, and it is, in many ways, a very cutting-edge experience.