Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mirror's Edge

About a month ago the PC version of Mirror's Edge was released. I anticipated this release because the game was a unique and new concept, and now that I've played it the concept does not disappoint. The mechanics of the game are fun and original, and while I was initially skeptical of a first-person platforming game, the game pulls it off wonderfully. The time trials are addicting and fun as well.

Unfortunately, the time trials are the core of the experience, because the story mode is very lacking. The game's developer, DICE, is primarily experienced with multiplayer-only games, and it shows, because the level design just does not work well a lot of the time. The mechanics encourage navigation of obstacles and finding ways to quickly traverse large areas, but the level design favors slow climbing and platforming puzzles. The mechanics also favor avoiding combat, and the player dies very quickly in combat. However, there are a handful of spots in the game which require combat, and these portions seem unfair and generally not fun. Finally, the game is very short, clocking in at perhaps 5 hours. This could be a good thing considering how inconsistent the level design is.

As I said, the real fun of this game is the time trials. I've never dabbled much in speed-running but I can see the appeal now. Experimenting with faster routes and tiny adjustments to squeeze a few more milliseconds off my time is a ton of fun. Once I had 3 stars on almost every time trial map, however, there just isn't much else to do in the game. There's a map pack coming soon, but it costs money, and I generally hate paying for any extra game content unless it's an actual expansion pack.

The mechanics of Mirror's Edge are great and fresh. With better single player level design, this could have been an excellent game. It's a shame how it turned out, but I hope DICE has learned some lessons and will make the sequel far superior.