Wow, I think I’m about to get into Spider-Man 2 territory here because, like with that movie, I find myself absolutely hating something that the general public seems to love. I remember hearing pretty stellar reviews for Mirror’s Edge when it came out. I believe the Totally Rad Show guys didn’t completely like it, but I’d have to dig back to find out (that’s one of the problems to being so late to the game with 360 games, the positive, of course, is that I get them on the cheap). Even now, the game has a 79 on Metacritic, though I think it as higher.
For anyone who might not know, the game has you running around a futuristic city. I didn’t follow the storyline whatsoever, so I can’t say whether it was any good or not, but something bad goes down and you’re running for your life. The concept is right up my alley: parkour through a futuristic city with all kinds of acrobatics, with some fighting and gunplay thrown in. It sounded like a great game with a fun concept. It turned out to be a boring and ridiculously frustrating game that made me throw down my controller in frustration a number of times, giving up completely yesterday.
Allow me to elaborate. The game sounds like you’ll be free running throughout the city with a full range of control and plenty of options on where to go and what to jump off. In actuality, there’s only one way to go about the game’s missions and those ways are rife with death, frustration and huge question marks. I can’t tell you how many times I had to look up video walkthroughs on YouTube to understand what the hell I was supposed to do. Now, I’m not against games being difficult, but there’s a kind of difficult that I like and another that just leads to frustration. With a game like Skate 2, it sometimes took me a hundred attempts to do something, but I know that it’s something I need to get better at and can eventually improve on. With Mirror’s Edge, it felt like such nit picky bullshit that kept leading to my death. Also, you’ve got to realize that this isn’t an open world that you get to hang out in like Crackdown or Spider-Man 2. There’s only one way to do everything and if you can’t get it, you’re dead.
In addition to the boring level designs and lack of freedom, the control design is pretty boring. Basically, one button makes you jump, another makes you slide and another makes you punch. For some reason these controls don’t fit the usual pattern. At first it seemed kind of cool, but then I was wondering why I was bothering with this nonsense, especially since you don’t have much actual control over your character. Hell, you can’t even move while in the air. Also, you can hit a button to let you know where you’re supposed to go, but instead of making an on-screen arrow you can follow or just glancing that direction slightly, it makes you physically turn. So, if you’re running and you tap the button to see where the hell you’re supposed to go, it can send you flying off an edge. Great.
This also relates to the fighting and shooting mechanics of the game, which also suck. I get that you’re supposed to be this fast woman who avoids fighting and killing, but that doesn’t mean the controls need to be so crummy. You’re supposed to string together jumps and slides to take out these dudes with machine guns, which works when you’re facing one guy, but doesn’t when you’re trying to go up against a series of guys with guns. Then, once you have the gun, you slow down, your aim isn’t great and it doesn’t feel like something you’re actually supposed to be doing, which is bullshit because there are times when you absolutely have to blast people away so they don’t kill you first.
I thought I could muscle through the game because, from what I’ve heard, it’s not very long. I got partway through the 7th chapter I believe and actually threw my controller on the ground and said “That’s it, I’m done.” A big part of that was the fact that the save game thing didn’t seem to work that well. I’d get through a really hard bit, save and then the next day I’d have to go through the bullshit again.
I really wish this game had been created by Black Box, the people who did Skate 2 (and 3 which I want to pick up). Hell, I’d be okay if they just wanted to make a parkour game exactly like one of the Skate games. Give me an open map I can use to teleport, a series of challenges I can get to whenever I want, the ability to feel like an actual human being while moving through the air and the ability to leave a marker that I can go back to if things go bad and I’d be a happy camper. Please, someone make THAT game because this one is terrible.