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Games You May Have Missed: Mirror’s Edge

February 6, 2013
Mirror's Edge box art

Because of the embarrassing dearth of video game coverage here at TBTS, I’ve decided to do a series on games that our gaming readers may have missed. Personally, I fall somewhere on the higher end of the casual-to-enthusiast spectrum. I have a decent gaming PC with a video card that is only a couple of notches below top-of-the-line, and have logged more than a couple hundred hours in games like Borderlands 2. It is rare that I pay full price for a newly released game. I’m not the kind of gamer that has to have the latest thing right now! I like to keep an eye out for gaming bargains: independent releases, clever side-scrollers, or last-gen games. I usually wait until Steam, the iTunes of video games, has them on sale or a game gets old enough that the price drops to a reasonable level. I spend my time window shopping for the best gaming monitors reviewed and compared, but rarely ever think of buying any.

One such last-gen game I took a chance on is Mirror’s Edge, and I’m immensely glad that I did. Mirror’s Edge takes the FPS (first-person shooter) paradigm that most gamers are familiar with and folds it, origami-like, into something fresh and entertaining as hell. Actually, while the first-person perspective remains, there is very little shooting. Mirror’s Edge concentrates on motion: running, jumping, climbing, and a little bit of problem-solving. And it is fast-paced… really fast.

In the game’s near-future dystopia where constant surveillance makes the exchange of sensitive information difficult, you play as Faith, a courier known as a Runner. Runners are quick, agile, and fearless as they run and leap around rooftops, construction scaffolds, tunnels, and ventilation systems to deliver their packages. Early in the game, Faith’s sister is framed for the murder of a corporate executive. The game’s storyline follows Faith’s attempt to clear her sister’s name and discover the real conspirators and their motives.

There are a few instances of hand-to-hand combat here and there as you progress through the game’s somewhat linear levels, but mostly you’re jumping around trying to get to your destination without falling to your death or getting shot by trigger-happy police. In between levels, cut-scenes unfold the story at an appropriate pace and are evenly split between 3D renders like the game play and a lo-fi yet sophisticated cartoon style. Of course, it’s the game play that is the real draw. The first-person perspective coupled with the high speed Parkour acrobatics is exhilirating to say the least. The cityscape itself is rendered in breathtaking whites and blues, allowing bright red objects (directional markers) to stand out so you know where you’re going. The game makes excellent use of PhysX technology (if your video card supports it) to add realism to particle physics like broken glass. Controls can be a little frustrating at times, especially when complicated combo moves are required to get where you want to go. You will make mistakes. Most of mine were timing errors, where I leaped too soon or too early and ended up a red stain on the sidewalk.

I got pretty far in Mirror’s Edge before a recent computer upgrade caused me to accidentally lose my save point. I was a little cranky at first, but once I started playing the game again I found I was enjoying the visuals and the game play just as much as I had the first time. I didn’t care that I had already completed the earlier levels. Once I got reacquainted with the controls I found I was able to complete levels faster, adding to the excitement of this pulse-quickening game.

Mirror’s Edge is a truly great game, and its devotees are clamoring for a sequel (which may or may not happen.) It is currently available for $19.99 on Steam, but keep an eye on it. Occasionally they offer it on sale for as little as $8.99. Regardless, it’s worth a look at almost any price. Happy running!

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