Mirror's Edge

Pros & Cons:
Pertaining to My short list below.

The graphic style is incredibly clean and stark, with only a small amount of primary colors scattered among the majority of white skyscrapers (even foliage is colorless). Because of all the stunning cityscape views, small details do suffer, and you'll see lots of distracting aliasing (or, jagged edges) in the game's fine lines. But the vast views, moody art style, and detailed textures and character models make up for it.

Pay heed to the red, or you are dead--no joke.

This game makes great use of the first-person perspective, and you're fully able to see Faith's arms and legs, meaning whenever she jumps across huge gaps or balances on thin ledges, you'll experience the dizzying heights and stomach lurching views as Faith. This, the smooth, intuitive controls and believable animations, give you an exhilarating feeling of freedom as you dash across rooftops, jump fences and walls, slide under pipes and grates, and dodge the enemy as you go--it's plain fun.

However, this freedom comes with its downfalls: because of the game's speed, you often don't have the time to think about where you're heading, making you fall to your doom dozens upon dozens of times; the combat system is very touchy, and if you don't disable an enemy quickly enough (which happens constantly), they or another enemy nearby will immediately do you in; and although the overall controls are simple enough, they take mastering, and the moves require perfect timing--if you're off by just a bit, you die. In other words, it has a huge amount of trial and error, which will unfortunately turn away younger and/or more casual gamers.

The cutscenes are done in an animated internet flash style, and though they succeed artistically, they're far too distracting when switched to and from gameplay, which ultimately makes the story and characters less appealing than if they had been done with the in-game engine instead. The story itself is too predictable where it counts, and its characters aren't endearing enough to carry it through to the end--I'd like to see a sequel, but it wouldn't be for the game's narrative.

A commonplace--and dizzying--view; you'll be doing this a lot.

The single-player campaign is also very short (at about 5-7 hours) and can easily be finished in a day. But there is a level select, where you can find alternate paths and collect hidden tote bags scattered throughout, and participate in two additional modes; Speed Run (run through the levels as fast as possible) and Time Trial (pass through the marked checkpoints in time)--after completing a level in either of the modes, you can post your best scores and compete with other players' times online.

Closing comment:
So overall, this game is very unique, meaning you'll either really love it (as I do) or hate it. It isn't for the impatient (or people with vertigo and/or motion sickness ;P), but if you don't mind the constant trial and error (despite the frustration, the main campaign is still fun), and you like trying to get better times in competitive on-foot races and online time trials, then this is probably your type of game.

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Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating.

Content sum up: There's no blood shed from the enemy, and although Faith can knock enemies unconscious and use their guns against them, it isn't at all overly brutal or violent. But it's packed (for its short length) with language (mainly sh*t), and there's plainly more age appropriate (and far easier) games for younger age groups. So, I recommend this game for ages 14+.

Blood: When Faith (the main playable character) is shot by the enemy, small amounts of blood spurt from her body, visible from first-person (as in, through her eyes), but enemies don't shed blood; one in-game cutscene shows a dead man lying on his desk with a bullet to the head, and his blood lightly leaking out onto the table; and a later cutscene, which is in an animated internet flash style, shows some cartoony looking bloodstains on an overturned couch. There is no option to turn blood off.

Language: There are over a dozen (almost two dozen) uses of sh*t, under a dozen uses of hell, a** and d*mn, three or under uses of God, God d*mn and bastard, and one use of Jesus. Other than the main script, there is an out-of-the-way monitor that displays an email containing some language, and although it's very hard to read, it does have one use of the words a**, a**hole, sh*t, and two uses of douche.

Violence: A once normal city was gradually turned into a sterile, virtually crimeless one, but with impacting negatives; oppression and no real free speech--people who didn't agree with the changes have been violently imprisoned for resisting. You (Faith) work for these jilted once-citizens, as what they call, Runners, and it's your job to deliver sensitive information to those wanting to reform the current regime. Up until now--not seeing you as a threat--the city's corrupt enforcement have done little to bother you, but now for unknown reasons, they're trying to hunt you down. Faith soon discovers why, as she finds her sister (a member of the police force) standing over the murdered body of a canditorial major. Someone has framed her sister, and now Faith. It's time to find the real culprit and ultimately save her sister...

The base gameplay consists of using Faith's incredible acrobatic skills to evade the pursuing enemies, while following the red-colored objects (a Runner's intuition on where to go); leaping over huge gaps; sliding and vaulting under and over objects; jumping fences; scaling and running across walls; sliding down ziplines; balancing and shimmying on ledges; climbing ladders; swinging from pipes; crawling through vents; bashing and breaking through doors and glass; quickly fighting enemies in the way; and keeping up your momentum and speed in order to escape sucessfully. There is also some light puzzle solving elements, and other than the environments, which are giant puzzles in themselves, you'll have to press buttons and turn valves to open doors, deactivate electric fences and fan blades blocking your way.

The enemies range from government enforcement equipped with flak jackets and handguns, to fully armored swat teams with shotguns, sniper rifles and machine guns. The combat system is mildly violent and hectic, but beyond this, the enemy sheds no blood, and Faith's full-on encounters with them are far and few between. When she is forced to fight, Faith can attack with a variety of punches, sliding drop kicks, jump kicks, and if she gets close enough, she'll disarm them by knocking them unconscious. Faith can then use their dropped weapons (machine guns, shotguns, etc.), but with a moderate degree of sacrifice; not only does she have very limited ammo, but she loses all her acrobatic skills and speed--combat plainly isn't the main focus.

As you spend most of the time running from pursuing enemies (and their constant gunfire) through the many abandoned rooftops, office buildings and subway stations, the game's tone lends itself to a sense of adrenaline-pumping urgency. They'll shoot at you from helicopters, through vents, doors and elevators, and often smash open doors right as you're running in front of them, and since you don't have many opportunities to look back, you'll only hear their ever-increasing footsteps following behind your own. This event is furthered later in the game, with special enforcement that have been trained to navigate rooftops just like you do, and are nearly invulnerable--your only option is to run, giving these areas a suspenceful, thrilling feel.

The sense of urgency is heightend by the fact that Faith is always alone and fully isolated from any outside help, and she'll often have to do dangerous and crazy things like dodge from cover to cover, as laser-sighted sniper rifles aim and fire her way; or jump onto moving trains (while avoiding low hanging signs as the trains tear through tunnels), just in order to survive. The cutscenes are a bit hectic and intense, with some explosions, a few of the characters are killed, there's a betrayal, and Faith mentions how her mother was killed during a riot--beyond this, it isn't too graphic or impacting, as the cutscenes are done in a cartoony 2D internet flash style.

When it comes to what age group this is appropriate for, this is far too frustratingly difficult for younger ages, and although the violence isn't any worse than what you'd see on tv, the language is (including plenty uses of sh*t)--there's simply more age appropriate games. But for mid-teens (and up), this is quite suitable, with little blood (enemies don't shed it), and although Faith can knock enemies unconscious, and then use their guns against them, it isn't at all overly brutal or violent.

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