The famous ‘What went wrong’ series returns! I’ve been playing through Mirror’s Edge again recently after I nabbed the iPhone version for free, so I thought now that the game is over two years old, what better time to write about it? That’s right,  there is no better time. Good answer.

I love Mirror’s Edge, but mainly when I’m not playing on it. It infuriates me constantly, but the second I turn it off, all I can think about is how much fun it is when it isn’t making me scream at the TV. So, DICE, if you are working on the sequel that I just found out is supposedly in development, please bear the following in mind:

1) There wasn’t enough freedom

For a game based heavily on Parkour, it’s painfully linear. DICE did a brilliant job of making it look like you could explore and find different routes to your objectives, but they did an even better job of making sure you couldn’t use them. An environment similar to the old Tony Hawk games would have been ideal, just don’t use as many half-pipes and ramps. Or do. If I can suspend disbelief for the ziplines conveniently scattered about the city, I’m sure I can do it for half-pipes.

2) Too much combat / Shit combat

One of my fondest memories of Mirror’s Edge is running away from huge groups of enemies while being shot at. It’s a strangely exhilarating feeling to hear gunshots bounce off the metallic frame of the object you’ve just slid under at high speed, only to see another nasty gun-toting bastard break open the door in front of you, making you charge off in other direction while gunfire sprayed around you. See? I was getting a bit excited writing that, and it’s even better when you’re playing on it.

It’s probably a bit harsh to say that combat was shit actually; disarming people was brilliantly fun at times, but I’ve been doing the same bit on and off for about 2 hours now because of the combat system. When you end up face-to-face with an enemy, you’re only real option is to wait for him to swing his gun at you so you can (attempt to) disarm him. Faith is clearly capable of looking after herself, why not let us have some better offensive moves? Maybe some way of locking onto an enemy and have a system including the ability to dodge and counter. Or just drop combat and make the game all about the chase?

3) The story

I very rarely complain about the story in a game unless it’s really bad, but the problem with Mirror’s Edge is more to do with the lack of it. There’s something resembling a plot, but I just wish the cut-scenes had given a little more information on the universe the game takes place in – Visually, it’s very striking, but it just seemed to lack back-story. Have a word with Valve, they’re really good at doing that without you even noticing. Sneaky bastards.

Also, the cut scenes looked shit. Sort that out.

4) Not enough doors

Yep. For all the frustration it causes when you mistime a jump because you can’t see the floor, or you miss a ledge because you weren’t looking in exactly the right direction, everything – absolutely everything – is forgiven when I get to run at a door at high speed and smash it open; the shake of the camera, the vibration of the pad, and the huge thud it makes – for some reason it’s one of the most satisfying split-seconds of console gaming this generation for me.

So DICE, if you are making a sequel – please God, let them be making a sequel – please make it a brilliantly open, free-roaming experience with improved combat, so I can leap from rooftop to rooftop with gunfire clattering all around me, before disarming and knocking some poor bastard unconscious with his own gun.

Or one long corridor with a door I can smash open every hundred yards or so. Either is fine.

6 Replies to “Mirror’s Edge: What went wrong”

  1. Oh man, in don’t know.

    Freedom? Sure, I’d like to see that in a sequel, but to complain it’s not here is to criticise the game for what it isn’t, rather than what it is. I think the streamlined aesthetic of the game, which runs right through to the controls, works wonderfully. The worst bits of the game were when you had to stop to think something through, the best bits when you just ran and ran and ran. Strangely, the indoor sections offered quite a bit of freedom.

    Too much combat? Honestly, and I hate this argument so I apologise, but you’re doing it wrong. There are only 2 or 3 instances in the entire game where you have to fight, the rest of the game you should just be avoiding everything but the heavy gunners and boss fights. The enemies are obstacles, not adversaries.

    Story and doors I’ll give you though 4)

    1. I loved Mirror’s Edge, so my complaining about the lack of freedom is definitely more in the sense that I would’ve liked it, and it would be ideal for a sequel. I actually quite enjoyed some of the sections where it required a bit of thought, though, but I absolutely agree- the game felt fantastic when you got to build up momentum and run.

      Regarding the combat, I always avoided it whenever I could on my first playthrough, but my point is that it was too limited when you were forced to use it- I’ve just played through a couple of sections where it would be almost impossible without it (making your way down the stairs after shooting the vehicle Kate was in, and a small bit where you need to climb a large section of drainpipe while being shot at) and it was really frustrating because of it’s limitations.

      I understand your point though, and I agree with it to a degree, but if it’s possible to play through fighting everyone, then you can’t claim someone is doing it wrong. If there’s a “wrong” way of playing a game and it isn’t stopped by the developers, they haven’t done their job properly. But, as I said, I tried not to fight whenever I could, and it still frustrated me.

      The comment “Or just drop combat and make the game all about the chase?” would actually be a change I’d like in a sequel. If you remove fighting then you can’t “do it wrong”. If you’re caught by a guard with a gun and you’re armed with nothing more than a package that needs delivering, you probably wouldn’t stand a chance, so game over; if it was implemented well enough, it would just make those moments where you’re being bombarded with gunfire more exciting.

      1. Fair point on the combat I guess, though I thought the stairwell bit was a fanastic setpiece mainly because I insisted on playing it without fighting (as I did most of the game) – you can jump down the main stairwell and straight past the heavy gunners on the way down. It was a while ago but I think there’s only one person you actually have to fight.

        It’s been a while, though, and it was 2 years ago when I did my only play through. I actually took more offense at some of the convoluted level design than the mechanics but do understand that had I approached it a different way it could have been more frustrating.

        It needs a more pure sequel, more high concept.

  2. Ah, Mirror’s edge -one of the games I put in the ‘Covert Pro-Fascism’ camp. That’s the games where they show the player an iron-fisted state and assume that the player will want to take it down, even though they never bother showing anything particularly wrong with the way the state is running things.

    Giant skyscrapers, ample public transportation and employment, no pollution, no mass executions in the streets – pretty sure 99 percent of everyone who has ever lived would love to move to that city. (I just grabbed the box to see if the city’s name was mentioned there – sadly, it wasn’t, and I couldn’t be bothered to open the box to check)

    For me, Mirror’s Edge joined Getting Up in the area of “Huh? The city government has billions of dollars to spend fighting grafitti/parkour? Is there no other crime? And if not, why is this supposed to be a bad place to live again?”

    1. This is why I found the story frustrating. They essentially told you that it was horrible, but never really explained why.

      If you’re willing to go along with it, there could be a great story in it. They just never got around to doing it in the first game.

  3. This post made me feel better about having missed getting Mirror’s Edge for free and yet somehow ending up with a Duran Duran EP, a David Guetta video bundle and an episode of Doctor bleeding Who.

    Cheers, iTunes.

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