So yeah, it’s really pretty and everything and the running and jumping stuff is cool and implemented just about as well as you could have hoped for. However, it’s got the baggage of AAA story exposition and confuses itself horribly in a couple of quite fundamental ways.
When in its state of flow-based nirvana, Mirror’s Edge is truly transcendent. There’s something in its sequence of play when bombing across rooftops that’s wonderfully satisfying and familiar, as if it’s taking the whole-stage-in-one rhythms of the Super Mariolands and putting it in first person, though there’s a sense in me that the intensity is a bit off. Sections are a bit too short and, of course, route options are really limited. I also can’t help but feel that the rhythm is somewhat weak and never really breaks into the truly magnificent stride it clearly has the potential to attain. I could say it’s more to do with the types of locales demanded by the setting, as you can’t do 90 seconds of straight vault/duck/wallrun choices on skyscraper rooftops, but I’d much rather have some really demanding endurance challenges, where flow is critical but the levels don’t demand wrote learning. And all the boss fights are against architecture. Some of the game’s bosses actually are that, but instead of being some mad equivalent to Dodonpachi’s second loop end boss (Hibachi) where dodging bullets becomes doing parkour moves, they’re more like Portal-esque problems to solve. Either that or they’re overly-intense, staccato runs that while often leave you breatheless, often fail to deliver the profound satisfaction you feel you’ve just earned the right to.
Mentioning Portal is entirely intentional, as the Mirror’s Edge’s overall atmosphere is surprisingly as accomplished. Graphically, both are beautifully restrained, semi-abstract masterpieces and both share a demand for spacial reasoning to function, although Mirror’s Edge often comes up as the under-9’s edition, save a few proper WTF moments that have you self-harming in shame when you realise how intelligently simple the solution is.
Naturally, I’m going to go apeshit about the AAA storyline and call everybody concerned idiots and pretentious fucks in a wholeheartedly unreasonable manner. It’s pretty clear that Mirror’s Edge should have taken its abstraction a little bit further - there’s no reason why the rooftop and Die-Hard interiors can’t be abstracted for the sake of exploring as much potential as you can from the kind of interactive systems they can generate and in the process, home in on the core beauty of the game in play and refine, extend and intensify that shit until players start being actually sick on themselves because they’ve had so many ejaculations their body thinks they’re being poisoned. Beautifully, some of this philosophy is evident in (and my demands are TOTALLY JUSTIFIED BY) the DLC, which provides some truly stunning abstract arenas for really rocking the shit out of the game’s core interactive system and you know what? That shit is pure fucking Demoscene and being able to parkour around it blows my fucking mind, given my colossal love for all things brutally polygonal with fractured shit. This however, is wiping the shit off the soiled toilet seat as far as I’m concerned and things like combat, stealth sections and so on are as abusive of the game’s core beauty as spraying urine and faeces over 700 books in Borders in Gloucester, or asking a barmaid how much it would cost to rape her.
Overall, this is a good game if you like this kind of thing.
One other thing I’d love to change would be to remove times and add scoring, or at least offer an alternate mode. For a game about keneticism and distance, where you regularly wonder how wide that last gap was, it’s a shame to not have a scoring system based around sustained flow and risk/reward trickery. Rack up vaulting points across the row of pipes, or launch yourself off the ramp and om nom nom all that beautiful air. I want that shit in numbers all over my screen, yo.