Unfortunately, there are lots of occasions when it doesn’t come together, and this is what makes Mirror’s Edge such a frustrating game in just about every sense of the word. The big issue is level design. Some stretches are absolutely great. Some are irritating, dull or just confusing. Despite a built-in hint system that’s supposed to orient your vision towards your next objective, I’ve come across numerous points where it’s simply not clear where you’re meant to go or what you’re meant to do. In fact, there are points at which the hint system is actively misleading. In these situations you’re left to find the way through by trial and error, repeating the same two or three minute section over and over again until you basically luck out.
There are also sections where a particular leap or sequence of moves needs to be performed with the utmost precision, leaving you grinding your teeth as you – again – repeat and repeat ad nauseum. This isn’t merely annoying; it breaks the momentum that powers the whole game along down. It also gives you too much time to think, and what you’ll be thinking is how linear the whole thing is. The more you play, the more you realise that Faith’s route has been set in stone, and all you can do is follow it. In short, a game that promised to be extraordinary seems beset with all too ordinary flaws.
It was also a mistake to throw in sections where combat is unavoidable. While you can get by using stealth and guile to overcome multiple enemies, it’s far more tempting to simply reach for the options screen and dial the opponent difficulty down, then slap away. The combat system just isn’t up to the job, and these bits just aren’t any fun.
This is a real shame, because while Mirror’s Edge can be samey, its gleaming rooftops and dimly lit interiors seeming to repeat from level to level, the adrenaline-soaked, beating heart of the game is magnificent. If only it could just maintain its momentum and not constantly trip and stumble or lose its way. If only it could avoid bogging you down or making you feel that, after twenty minutes working on the same two minute chunk, you might be enjoying yourself more doing something else.
Score wise, it could have been a nine – maybe even a ten – but instead I feel horribly tempted to curse it with a six and have some small revenge. But then I play it again and remember just how thrilling this first-person platformer can be. A mildly disappointing seven it is, then, but one that’s clawing towards an eight were I feeling kind. I’d like to be, and I dearly hope DICE will come back for another crack, maybe having learned some lessons from this time around. Kudos to the studio for coming up with a new concept and a new experience, but it would be great if it was consistently enjoyable and not so frequently and damnably annoying.
An incredible first-person spin on the platform game played at breakneck speed for incredible thrills. If only it wasn’t bogged down by so much thoughtless or directionless level design.