We love parkour, but next time, please forgo the combat
Here’s the thing about Mirror’s Edge: It’s 85 percent awesome, and we’re as surprised as anyone that the part that’s awesome is the first-person parkour. The running, jumping, and climbing bits are utterly engaging and even transcendent. There’s something liberating about leaping fearlessly from rooftop to rooftop while fleeing from a nebulous anti-freedom force. Unfortunately, for every high you get while soaring through the sky, there’s a painful low in the form of a combat sequence.
And therein lies the rub. The rooftop chases, where the designers were free to build many-pathed courses through the map, are sublime. By confronting the player with a constant stream of risk-vs.-reward decisions—do I take the risky jump to shave some seconds off my time, or the safe jump to avoid death?—and increasing your players speed as she successfully strings together long combos, the game is elevated from the run-along-a-path-on-the-rooftops experience it could have been into something emergent and amazing and wonderful.
And then you go inside. Moving into an office building or a sewer cuts down on the number of potential paths, but even that’s not so bad. The game really falls apart when you stop running from the cops—as an early loading screen tip advises you—and have to start fighting them. Later in the game, you have to disarm and disable your ever-present pursuers in order to open the path forward. This wouldn’t be so bad, except the combat system is maddening at best. While DICE managed to make a spectacular first-person jumping and climbing game, it hasn’t broken the curse of first-person melee combat—we’ve never played a first-person game with good melee combat, and Mirror’s Edge is no exception.
Were melee combat not required to progress in Mirror’s Edge, the game would receive a much higher score. Were melee combat excised from the game entirely, Mirror’s Edge would have undoubtedly received the Kick Ass award.
Running, jumping, and climbing across rooftops is glorious! Awesome art direction!
We'd like the game much more without the sucky melee combat.