Support Alex, click to buy via us...
Mirror's Edge on 360, PS3 and PC is described by many as a parkour, free running, simulator. It's an activity my general physic and sense of self preservation precludes me from attempting. Although for some people this sort of high wire jumping and a running is a sport or leisure activity, for me this is as frightful as the darkest horror experience.
But there is something about Mirror's Edge that remains enticing - the speed, the grace of movement makes practitioners look like poetic daredevils as they propel themselves up walls and between buildings. Developer, Dice, seemed incredibly aware of the fluidity of motion, balanced with the risk that makes the activity so appealing. Perhaps what makes me so unnerved by the Mirror's Edge is a testament to their achievement of capturing the essence of the sport in a First Person action game.
Thinking back to scores of first person games that attempted platform sections I was initially dubious that Dice could achieve their goal. Without the reference point of my avatar in an environment - you only see glimpses of limbs and torso - I find it hard to accurately orientate myself. While in most first person shooters precision placement of body and centre of gravity is not required, Mirror's Edge necessitates that I inhabit my characters virtual body if I wanted to be successful.
The sense of gnawing peril was communicated with deafening clarity through clever use of my character model and shaky-cam.
Mirror's Edge works by subtle cues. Occasionally limbs flashed into peripheral vision. Sometimes a contorted jump revels a glimpse of midriff. Through intermittent, I gradually became aware of effort involved performing the feats I was forcing my character to engage in. Her outstretched arms and air walking legs served to create a possibility of failure, rather than the abstraction of a miss timed button press it became something altogether more meaningful.
The sense of gnawing peril was communicated with deafening clarity through clever use of my character model and shaky-cam. It was never done gratuitously, it was never a 'Don't look down', moment that forced me to look directly over the edge of a precipice. Instead, the game directed my vision towards the next goal. Often the camera served as an aid, pulling me forward.
The limbs, the panting and the strained grunts were not purely down to the physical demands of parkour, but to the fact that through out it all you are a single sweaty palm away from death.
The real terror of the thing for me though was when looking down was unavoidable, and I had to face my fear of heights. It is on these occasions, when the game forced me to take account of the scale of the environment, that all of the hints of my characters exertion made sense. The limbs, the panting and the strained grunts were not purely down to the physical demands of parkour, but to the fact that through out it all I was a sweaty palm grip away from death.
One scene saw me sliding down the side of a glass building, arms spiraling in front of me. Then realisation struck me that the slide was to end in a shear drop. Shifting my vision up from my character's stylish treads, I took in the world around me. I would have to angle my trajectory towards a building across the street. My decent grew ever faster. I felt myself physically tense at the impending sense of artificial vertigo I was about to experience. But I had been playing for some time, my sense of the world had become near concrete. The jump was a single button press, not one of the more difficult contortions the game some times called for. I jumped, landing hard on the opposite roof, as my tension made me forget to roll to reduce the impact.
When it managed to spark in me a fraction of what I would feel like to be leaping off a building, or create the feeling of speed and fluidity of racing over a roof top vaulting and sliding under obstacles, is was exquisite.
It was times like this that the game shone. When it managed to spark in me a fraction of what I would feel like to be leaping off a building, or create the feeling of speed and fluidity of racing over a roof top vaulting and sliding under obstacles, is was exquisite.
Mirror's Edge is not always successful. The tangible feedback from the running often grinds to a halt in more challenging combat heavy sections. These unfortunate stutters interrupt the pacing, speed and flow of the game. But while these flaws diminish my frightful enjoyment of Mirror's Edge, when the game is in full I can easily forgive it. When in sync with my characters movements it remains one of my favourite, involving and unnerving gaming memories and one of the most unique full release titles of recent years.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: