Mirror's Edge is one of the game that I go back and forth on; I love it, I hate it and then I love it again. Under normal conditions, that ought to merit a raised eyebrow and an inquiry as to whether or not the game is of decent quality. In this case, there was so much done right and so much done wrong that it stands as an average game that could have easily been above the mark.
Mirror's Edge is set in a futuristic dystopian society, in which a network of 'runners,' including the main character, Faith, are used as couriers to transmit messages while evading government surveillance. During the first mission in the game following the tutorial, Faith is unusually shot at by the police while trying to deliver a communiqué and is forced to escape and evade in order to secure her safety. It is implied that the police never attack the runners without being provoked and it isn't revealed until later in the game why they are so trigger happy. Faith soon learns that her sister Kate, a police officer, is in danger and follows her police scanner to her location at the office of the city's mayoral candidate, Robert Pope, who'd been murdered with Kate's gun. Faith is then believed to have helped her sister in the homicide of Pope and Kate is taken into custody and Faith is on the run, forced to fight for their innocence.
Players are immersed within the world of Mirror's Edge as they take on the protagonist, Faith, as she is challenged to navigate across a gleaming city by leaping between rooftops, running across walls, and breaking into buildings through ventilation shafts and other discreet means. Mirror's Edge accomplishes this by the use of techniques and movements inspired by the discipline of parkour. Faith's movements are given more attention than anything in the game, conveying strain and physical contact by allowing freedom of movement previously unseen in the first person genre, as stated by the game's senior producer, Owen O'Brien. For example, as Faith's speed builds up while running, the rate at which the camera bobs up and down increases. When a roll is executed, the camera spins with the character. Faith's arms, legs, and torso are prominent and their visibility is used to convey movement and momentum. The character's arms pump and the length of her steps increase with her gait, and her legs cycle and arms flail during long jumps. There are also incidents that can hinder Faith's momentum including sloppily manoeuvring a platform and being shot at by her adversaries.
In gameplay, momentum becomes an asset. The player must attempt to conserve it through fluidity of physical actions, encouraging the creation of chains of moves. If Faith does not have the momentum required to traverse an object, she will fall off or short of it. To assist the player in creating these chains of moves, the game employs a system called "Runner Vision," which emphasises environmental pieces useful for progression. Certain pipes, ramps, and doors are highlighted in red as Faith approaches, allowing the player to instantly recognize paths and escape routes. Another means of assistance to the player is a system called "Reaction Time," a form of bullet time activated by the player, slowing down time and allowing the player to plan and time their next move without losing momentum or tactical advantage.
The game has an interesting and brightly coloured artistic style which is one of the reasons why it differs from other first person perspective video games. It also allows for a wider range of actions—such as sliding under barriers, tumbling and rolling, wall running and manoeuvring—and greater freedom of movement as well. Mirror's Edge has virtually no heads up display aside from an optional reticule in the centre of the screen and one of the few first person games that allows you to look down and see your character, giving you a deeper immersion within the game.
While the game's graphics aren't the best they could be, there isn't much to work with given the game's unique art form. Everything in the game is completely white, aside from some parts including stairwells, elevators, and the occasional piece of furniture. Faith sees objects and items of interest in red and that's basically that when it comes to colour. The surroundings are beautifully done, with skyscrapers and general architecture gleaming clean and bright from the sunlight and the textures on Faith's clothes and the armour of her enemies are well rendered. Instead of computer-rendered or live-action cutscenes, Mirror's Edge uses animated sequences to move its story along.
Sound effects and audio are done quite nicely. Character voice acting is believable, gunshots and foot steps sound solid, and the game's music is quite enjoyable, especially the theme song, 'Still Alive' by Lisa Miskovsky.
Combat plays a small role in the game and includes hand-to-hand as well as using firearms. Mirror's Edge revolves around escaping and evading, so combat is only implemented where it's absolutely necessary. There's combat within every mission, but there's always a way around it. Faith's hand-to-hand combat is generic, but fun and using parkour manoeuvres offer interesting ways to take down your enemies. Faith can also use guns but she's restricted to pistols when manoeuvring. If you're carrying an assault rifle or a shotgun, Faith will be unable to climb anything and her movements are slowed.
Overall, it's a decent game. We were originally supposed to start off with missions that introduce the courier service and ease into the game's story, but it was shortened and we're thrown into it and in lieu of this, the game is significantly shorter than it should have been. However, Mirror's Edge is fun and provides a decent challenge as well as a unique and innovative experience.
Yes, you will see red, but whether or not that is a bad thing is entirely up to you.