comScore Weekend Getaway: Mirror's Edge | The Mary Sue

Weekend Getaway: Mirror’s Edge

Featuring games you can finish in one weekend!

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If you’re anything like me, then in your heart of hearts you hold two absolute truths: parkour is the coolest thing ever, and parkour is the scariest thing ever. As much as I love the thought of scaling walls and vaulting rooftops, I have almost no doubt that I would die. Quickly.

Luckily, Mirror’s Edge from EA lets players experience being a parkour badass without falling 20 stories to their deaths.

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Mirror’s Edge takes place in the near future, in a “utopian” city that is free of crime and disease. That peace, however, is achieved through totalitarian dictatorship. The city is so clean and sparse that it is almost blindingly white, as if its angular architecture was designed by Apple. Our protagonist Faith is a “Runner” – a courier who delivers messages on foot for people who want to avoid communicating through highly monitored channels like phone and email. She, along with her fellow runners, cross the clinically clean city on the top of its buildings and through its unknown sewers.  For the most part, Faith keeps to herself and tries to avoid the authorities, but when her sister is framed for murder, she has no choice but to get involved with the city’s politics. What unfolds is a dystopian cyberpunk story straight out of the ’80s.

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Faith is a complete badass – a brooding, tattooed loner with a mysterious past, the likes of which women rarely get to play. Her sister Kate is no castle-locked princess either, rather a high-level policewoman who has been framed for murder by the very institution that she lives to uphold. Neither woman is over-sexualized, nor are they helpless – and it isn’t a man who needs to save Kate, it’s her sister. Imagine Ghost in the Shell meets Frozen.

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Many games in recent years have adopted the free-running style; in a world post Assassin’s Creed and Uncharted, it feels weird to play an action game where you don’t swing perilously from rafters and run along walls. What makes Mirror’s Edge different is the perspective. Seeing through Faith’s eyes as she performs death defying stunts and makes incredible leaps of faith is incredibly visceral. And when you miss a jump and Faith falls to her death, you almost feel it.

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The police (or the “Blues,” as the runners call them) are an ever-present threat for Faith. As you progress through the game, scarier and scarier agents of the totalitarian state are sent to take her down, and most of these conflicts are best avoided. Players are encouraged to use their agility and acrobatics to dodge the game’s far more battle-ready enemies. The occasional moments when we are forced steal a gun and engage the enemy feel clunky and underdeveloped, and are my only real complaint with the game.

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Mirror’s Edge uses color incredibly well. As I mentioned before, the city is practically white in its forced purity, so any splashes of color really stand out. The developers used that motif to guide the player without using maps or signs; anything that faith can parkour upon is highlighted with red, most distant goals are orange, and anything that has the taint of the Police is a bright blue. Using highlights as your guide, you are able to freely find your way to your goal with feeling like the game is holding your hand too much. If do get lost however, as I often did, then you can simply hold down a button and Faith will look in the direction of the next objective.

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For anyone compiling a list of great games they missed out on during the last console generation, Mirror’s Edge is a worthy addition. No game emulates the (assumed) rush of freerunning more, nor the terror of falling. A beautiful current-gen sequel is set to come out sometime next year, so now is the perfect time to catch up on Faith’s first adventure.

Now check out that trailer!

David Ochart (pronounced Oh-Chart) is a freelance writer and social media manager. He loves loving things, and he spends much of his free time advocating his favorite things with an almost evangelical fervor. He spends the rest of that free time guzzling tea and scouring the internet for gifs. He can be found atmostwebsitesites.com/DavidOchart and others @DavidOchart.

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