Thanks for posting the Mirror’s Edge demo at the PlayStation Store, EA. You saved me (or Santa) sixty bucks!
Along with Dead Space, Mirror’s Edge was the game I was most excited to play this fall. I loved the visual design. I’m a sucker for dystopian storylines. And, most of all, I couldn’t wait to experience the non-stop parkour action: running, sliding, and vaulting from rooftop to rooftop.
As the release date approached, I heard rumblings that the story was minimal — and not very good. No big deal. The gameplay was more important. Remember, non-stop parkour action!
Mirror’s Edge was still at the top of my wishlist. And then I played the demo.
The parkour action is there. But it stops. A lot.
Mirror’s Edge plays like a horribly designed driving game — only on foot, instead of in a vehicle. Imagine a version of Gran Turismo where you speed around for about twenty seconds, come to a complete stop and ask for directions, start moving again, quietly crash and die, and rewind to the last checkpoint. Most driving games are smart enough to make your path intuitive and let you go fast for a while between crashes. Even crash-happy games like Motorstorm at least know how to make your demise entertaining.
I did finish the Mirror’s Edge demo level, but I died several times along the way. The whole thing was a series of trial and error stutter steps. And it seems to be that way by design.
I didn’t find the game very difficult; it’s just that you’re pretty much forced to die (or stop for a good long time and survey the situation) several times each level in order to succeed. That can be okay — even preferable — for some titles. But, in a game that relies almost completely on speed and momentum for its fun, it wrecks the experience.
Instead of having the character die whenever a misstep is made, I would have appreciated if I just wound up on a less desirable (longer) path through the level. That way, I could keep running, jumping and sliding, instead of the constant cycle of running, dying, and rewinding to the last checkpoint.
This pattern made the demo about as much fun as hitting the gas at a green light, only to get caught by a red light at the next intersection. And the next, and the next, etc. I don’t want to play a game that reminds me of my morning commute.
Judging by the demo, the only way to blast through a level of Mirror’s Edge at top speed — and thus the only way to really enjoy it — is to have played and practiced it several times before. But games should be fun even while you’re getting good at them — not just after you’ve mastered them. Unfortunately, learning Mirror’s Edge wasn’t much fun for me at all.
The parkour concept behind Mirror’s Edge is a great idea. And it’s nice to see EA (EA!) taking some risks with new properties these days — something they haven’t done much of since they tried some weird shit early in the millennium. I just hope that, should this series live to see a sequel, the designers give players a better chance to enjoy the game mechanics that made Mirror’s Edge sound so interesting in the first place.
If you’ve played Mirror’s Edge, and you’ve found that the demo isn’t representative of the game as a whole, let me know! Maybe you can persuade me to rent it and give it another chance.