Demo: Mirror’s Edge

I just finished my first play through the Mirror’s Edge demo. My impressions are positive on the whole.

My main problem with Mirror’s Edge at the moment is the control scheme learning curve. The transition from 2D platformers to 3D platformers has been difficult for me. I’m actually not that skilled at first person or even third person platform games. The Metroid Prime games, which are in first-person perspective, had very tight controls for the most part, but the more difficult jumping areas frustrated me because I couldn’t see my bloody feet. It was the same with Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (speaking of which, I need to blog about this), which is a third person perspective game. Bits where I had to jump really far or very precisely caused me stress, and not necessarily the good kind of stress you get when you play games.

I died a lot in the Mirror’s Edge demo, and it was slightly frustrating. I do need a lot more practice on what the tutorial considers basic moves. Some of them, like the jump-turn-jump move, which is a wall jump that changes direction, were really difficult for me. The part where I failed/died the most was the part of the tutorial area where you had to walk on a pipe that stretches across a wide gap. To balance, you had to tilt the controller or use the left analogue stick. I couldn’t figure out how to balance using the analogue stick, so I just titled the controller. It was still difficult. I got slightly pissed off. Having said that, although I feel the learning curve is a little steep,
I do think that I will attain a passable proficiency with practice. I
felt accomplished when I successfully completed moves as instructed by
the tutorial.

The graphics are really superb. I really like them. I haven’t seen too many people yet, just an NPC and some enemies, but they look really well done. The environments and structures are really awesome looking. I love how the city looks. It kind of reminds me of the city in Ghost in the Shell, but a hell of a lot cleaner. The level was played in the day time. I hope there’s a night time level outside, because I would love to see the city all lit up at night. The graphical detail is really impressive.

I couldn’t tell much about character design in general from the few characters I saw, but what I did see, I liked. I really like that Faith, the character you play, and the other Runner, Celeste, are dressed in fairly practical clothing for what they do. They’re wearing clothes that you may expect to find people wearing if they run and jump around on rooftops, delivering packages and trying to avoid police.

The music was fairly low key. It’s modern electronica type music, which I like. It fits the atmosphere of a futuristic city. At the fast-paced bits, music played at a fast tempo. For the most part, there either wasn’t music, or it was too unobtrusive for me to notice.

The user interface is almost non-existent. There is no health bar. You have a small aiming reticule, but you hardly notice it. I suppose Runner Vision, which allows you to see objects that you can use to help you navigate obstacles, could be considered a user interface of some kind. I had a look at the game options menu, and you can set distances to be displayed in Metric or Imperial values, but I didn’t see any information displayed in the game play screen. Maybe this is a function of the full version?

Speaking of Runner Vision, it’s an essential part of the game. I’d be exceedingly frustrated without it. It’s helpful to see suggested routes and objects you could potentially use, though not all the objects that you can interact with are marked with Runner Vision, as I discovered through experimentation. Only the most obvious and required routes seem to be marked with Runner Vision.

Combat is pretty fun. I fought some hostiles, and managed to disarm them handily, though I did die a few times. They had guns, and I didn’t. I think I prefer not using weapons. After I disarmed enemies, I dropped the guns rather than hold on to them.

The other Runner you interact with in the tutorial and introductory level, Celeste, seems interesting. Far less interesting so far is your character’s mentor or guide, Mercury. Merc will probably annoy me just as much as Adam annoyed me in Metroid Fusion. Adam was one of the big reasons that Metroid Fusion is one of my least-liked Metroid games. Merc seems to serve the purpose of herding you through zones, and telling you to hurry up when you would rather he fucking shut up so you can practice and learn how to use the bloody contols.

You don’t learn much about Faith at all during the demo, though by the end of it, there are hints of her being embroiled in something large. The tutorial starts off with Merc telling you that you need to practice your basic skills, because you’re just coming out of convalescence after a particularly nasty fall. After the tutorial, there’s an intro level. You start off with what is supposed to be a fairly routine delivery hand-off to Cel, but at the end of it, the police are chasing you down and trying to kill you. I was intrigued and wanted to continue playing. The plot is fairly linear, but this is not a problem for me at all. I enjoy games with strong linear narratives. I hope the story is as interesting as the trailers and demo make it seem.

I’m probably going to play the demo a few more times. I’m definitely getting the full version in November. I’ve already pre-ordered it, and decided to splash out for the expensive, but awesome limited bundle which includes an ultra limited Timbuk2 messenger bag. If you know anything about messenger bags, which I do because my brother is one of those cycling fanatics and he knows a lot about outdoor gear and apparel (and I have absorbed some knowledge), you know that Timbuk2 are pretty highly regarded in the messenger bag world because of their bags’ durability and functionality.

I’m looking forward to playing Mirror’s Edge, but I am probably not going to play it until December if my discipline holds out, because I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month. This also means I won’t be playing Animal Crossing: City Folk or Chrono Trigger DS until December, either.

  5 comments for “Demo: Mirror’s Edge

  1. 31 October 2008 at 08:38

    The L1/L2 controls for jump/duck kept throwing me, and I found myself jamming on the jump button more frequently than I should have, which resulted in some pretty awesome faceplanting most of the time (as an aside, did you notice you can jump and hit R1 to do a action-movie-style “roll in the air so you can fire a gun between your feet” kind of move?)

    Mostly I was annoyed at the linearity of the demo stages. In particular there’s a secondary rooftop you can see from the start of the demo, and you can actually easily make the jump to the building, but you die instantly upon reaching it. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t any further a fall than previous jumps, either. :(

  2. SarKenobi
    2 November 2008 at 17:57

    I was wondering about the camera angle possibly causing motion sickness…

  3. 2 November 2008 at 18:04

    I think it’s likely that if you do suffer from motion sickness or headaches from playing or watching people play FPSs, Mirror’s Edge may have the same effects. The camera does move around quickly at times, especially when you do acrobatic type moves, such as a safety roll when you land from a high jump.

  4. 3 November 2008 at 00:50

    Unfortunately since it’s an EA game it comes with SecuROM, which means that it’s never going on my computer.

    I suppose I could buy the console version of it, but I really don’t want to support a company that bundles vicious spyware/malware with their PC products.

    It’s too bad, too, since Mirror’s Edge sounds like a game I’d really enjoy playing.

  5. 3 November 2008 at 09:07

    Finally played the demo last night. A couple controls were frustrating – especially the balancing-on-a-tightrope move, which didn’t seem to reflect what I was actually doing. And landing on the giant red cushion when I couldn’t see my feet was maddening. But the land-and-roll works nicely. The main level in the demo was satisfying, especially after I ran through it 2-3 times to try to get it right. And while I’m a headshot fanatic, running from the bad guys felt far more thrilling than stopping and shooting. I expect to play each level one at a time, to nail it without a fall before I move on. The feeling you get when you run without stopping is genuinely thrilling. And the sickening drops made my bones ache!

    Good luck on NaNoWriMo! Will you be linking your progress journal here? We can stand on the corner as you jog past, handing out water bottles and copies of Strunk & White.

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