“Mirror’s Edge” is one of the few games that I have seen almost universally liked. Everyone that I have talked to who has played it has nothing to say but praise, and reviews I have read online are generally the same. I was given high expectations for this game for quite a long time, and it did not disappoint me in the least. It is a truly unique gaming experience that takes the first-person genre and turns it on its head.
The game takes place in a place called The City at an unmentioned time in the future. It is a quasi-dystopian world held under a totalitarian rule. Crime is extremely rare and life is relatively comfortable, but at the cost of constant surveillance, much like in the popular dystopian novel “1984″, and another game I wrote about recently, “Remember Me”. Much like in “Remember Me”, our protagonist of this story is a woman of color,this time of Asian descent, named Faith. Faith is a Runner, or someone who delivers messages and packages to various revolutionary groups, traveling across buildings using parkour to avoid being detected by surveillance. Her story starts when she learns that her sister Kate, a police officer, has been framed for the murder of Pope, a political candidate. Kate allows herself to get arrested so as to not look guilty, and Faith goes to find evidence that proves Kate’s innocence. I won’t reveal too much of the plot since I encourage anyone who hasn’t played this yet to do so, but the story as a whole has a realm of mystery and suspense behind it, wondering who the real killer is and why they would frame Kate for the murder. It combines the best elements of a dystopian and mystery story, which was a blend that I enjoyed quite well.
In terms of gameplay, the best way to describe “Mirror’s Edge” would be to call it smooth. As mentioned earlier, Faith uses parkour to deliver messages, so the main aspect of the gameplay is traveling through The City using parkour. You can run on walls, jump from building to building, shimmy along pipes, and so much more. Momentum is a key factor, and the way the camera follows Faith through her movements makes the game feel so much more fluid and real. While there are areas of the game where Faith can use a gun or use hand-to-hand combat against the cops, it is not the central point of the game. The main point is how Faith avoids the surveillance, and how she maneuvers her way around to get information. There aren’t any typical “boss fights” or anything that an average first-person game would have. It was a very interesting and refreshing take on the genre that there have been so many variations of over the years.
The most stunning point of the game, at least, to me, was the graphics. Much like the worlds of Columbia and Neo-Paris, The City is a large, open, and immersive world, which makes it perfect to explore and run around it. The large, expanding cityscapes and narrow paths between buildings make you feel as though you really are in The City. It felt very free to run around and use parkour; almost as if you were physically denying the totalitarian regime itself, just by running. The use of color is also very important in “Mirror’s Edge”. Most of the outside buildings are a clean, stark white, giving it that classic futuristic look as it stands out against vibrant colors such as blue and orange. Some sections of buildings are all one color as you run through them, drastically changing from one room to the next. Most important, I think, is the use of color as you are using your parkour. Certain objects will highlight in red when you are running, guiding you as to where you are supposed to go next. This is extremely helpful, since you are so focused on the adrenaline and momentum that you don’t want to stop and think about where to go next. This use of bright red is seen as the color for the Runners, and helps clash against “the Blues”, or the cops. I liked how the color not only served as an element of gameplay, but as an actual mechanic to the story. I thought it was a creative approach.
Overall, “Mirror’s Edge” is a fantastic take on the first-person genre, allowing the player to run through The City with ease, feeling immersed in the huge and open world. The story holds many important themes and questions, and leaves you wondering what will happen next. The graphics and music are amazing, and the gameplay is smooth and fun. And, of course, the protagonist is a strong lady of color, which I am always supportive of. If you haven’t played “Mirror’s Edge” yet, I honestly don’t know why you haven’t, and you should as soon as you get the chance.