The lights are on
A successful intellectual property usually lands a sequel within one to three years. Games that fall outside this window are usually one and done, or destined to come back in a much different way years removed from the initial offering. I thought Mirror's Edge would fall into the category of "loved by many, but likely never to return." The game released on November 12, 2008, and almost became a cult hit overnight. Despite garnering considerable buzz and positive reviews, the game didn't come close to hitting its sales forecast of three million – selling just one million copies as of February 2009. At last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Electronic Arts updated Mirror's Edge's lifetime-to-date sales to over 2.5 million.
At that show, Electronic Arts also revealed that free-runner Faith was coming back in a Mirror's Edge sequel. If the rumored 2016 release date holds true, we have plenty of time to dust off our copies of Mirror's Edge, but you won't have to set aside much time to finish it up. The game can be completed easily in one sitting. Website How Long To Beat lists the campaign length at six hours.
Even though this game is somewhat repetitive in its gameplay and environments, it is still deserving of a "must play" endorsement, as it is unlike anything else out there, and shows that the first-person perspective can be tapped for high-speed platforming.
In my review of Mirror's Edge, I detailed the historic troubles tied to first-person traversal mechanics: "Players have become so proficient with
first-person shooters that they can lob grenades with pinpoint precision,
and de-helmet an enemy on the run with a sniper shot from a mile away.
So why do these players, who are completing superhuman feats within the
harsh conditions of war, look like fools whenever they try to jump from
one point to another? Watching a player try to leap across the rooftops
often ends up being as comedic as a Benny Hill skit. You'd think that
waging a one-man war against the Nazi army would be first-person's
greatest challenge, but as we've all learned through some frustrating
moments in our gaming careers, it's making a simple jump.
"Enter Mirror's Edge, a game that pushes gunplay to the periphery to
show gamers (and game developers for that matter) that jumping from the
first-person perspective can be just as easy and satisfying as pulling a
trigger in Call of Duty 4. As a helicopter gives chase with a chain-gun
ablaze, you'll be racing at breakneck speeds across vertigo-inducing
vertical spaces. As you fling from flagpole to drainage pipe and run
along a wall to a door you can put your shoulder through, you never once
have to stop dead in your tracks to line up a jump or reposition the
camera. Every movement feels natural, and is incredibly easy to pull off
– and it doesn't automatically handle the platforming like Assassin's
Creed does. You have complete control over the fast-paced parkour, and
learn quickly (and often) that the slightest miscalculation in timing
will turn you into an unrecognizable spatter on the pavement.
Thankfully, checkpoints are frequent and load times are minimal."
The first-person vantage point successfully delivers the sensation of vertigo, and DICE is well aware of this, often sending Faith over the side of a building, plummeting multiple stories to the safety of a cushioned landing pad, or, if the player launches at the wrong trajectory, down even further to a painful death. The shaking of the camera and visibility of Faith's body and limbs at the right times helps bring out the realism of the action.
Mirror's Edge also has a style all its own, blending blinding white tones with bold colors to create traversal paths that are as striking as they are easy to pinpoint. For a game that released in 2008, it still looks absolutely stunning today.
I can't beat this message home enough: Don't miss this game! This is one of those genre-defining releases that everyone needs to see. The next time you find yourself wondering what you should play next, don't even think about exploring your library: Get to know Mirror's Edge.
To read more about games you can beat in a day, check back at our hub over the course of the day.
Email the author Andrew Reiner, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.