Developer: EA DICE
Release Date: 11/11/2008
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For one, I rarely buy games like this on day one without knowing that I’ll at least want to play it 2 or 3 times and Mirror’s Edge was a great buy, but I wish I would have waited for a price drop first. Now don’t get me wrong go spend $60 on this and you’ll have one hell of a time, but for the length and content ME cuts it a bit short. ME is a parkour/free running/building jumping/limber skinny people running around like monkeys on rooftops game and is very well executed.
The first thing I’d like to mention is the warming soundtrack EA created for this game. EA has finally listened to the fans and got rid of the horrible EA Trax; a bunch of wannabe punk and metal bands mixed with lame hip-hop and R&B that everyone with half a brain and decency turns off. EA’s new IPs (Dead Space and ME) have an original rich soundtrack that fits the game very well. ME has a slow soothing OST with lots of low basses and some poppy techno thrown in. The game’s main theme by Lisa Miskovsy (ironically titled “Still Alive”) is a charming song that really gets the feeling of the game across A woman, and message deliverer for the resistance, named Faith who’s sister was framed for murder and she must find the killer of the person her sister, Kate, was framed for and must bring all of this to an end. In a rebuilt city corrupt and full of backstabbers Faith must scour the rooftops to find entrances into buildings to find her targets.
Scouring these rooftops is both fun and beautiful thanks to the game’s amazing graphics. EA’s next-gen engine (used and updated from skate.) makes ME one of the best-looking games ever made. Everything is highly detailed with buildings as far as the eye can see, reflections off of windows and everything is just highly detailed. The game looks similar to Portal (hmmm…just mere coincidences here?) with lots of HDR lighting and lots of blinding whites, blues, reds, and oranges. The art style really helps the game’s feel and works brilliantly. The cut scenes, however, are a bit different and detract from the feel of the game with cell shading similar to those Esurance commercials (with that hot pink-haired Esurance chick that has tons of porn available everywhere). While this style works it really is a detraction from the actual game. The voice acting is really good here, and the characters are decent except Faith is the only character you get attached to thanks to the game’s absurdly short length (6-8 hours depending on how you play).
Now back to how the game plays, it plays well and feels well with a few flaws. The game’s control scheme has its plate full with lots of different button combos that take a little while to get used to letting alone master. You have all of the parkour moves available to you such as building jumping, wall running, pole swinging, zip lines, three-step jumps (LB, RB, LB), wall climbing, shimmying, etc. Additionally, you can make runs faster by pulling your legs up instead of double-stepping jumps or hopping over rails. This makes time trials go faster and keeps your speed up. Finding your way in ME is fairly simple since you have “Runner’s Vision” which makes certain items turn red and you use them according to what they are. Boards leading off buildings usually mean to jump down, small objects in front of a larger object mean you double step your jump and vault to a ledge, you can crawl in vents, and a lot of time you must climb poles attached to walls and even jump to them! The game is fast and is very smooth, and you don’t have to afraid of sluggish controls. The whole game is responsive and reacts to your command.
The biggest flaw in the game, however, is the combat. Most of the enemies have guns and you don’t…this always proves a problem. Most of the time you just run away but when you’re forced to fight you must take on 5+ enemies in one room using melee combat, jumping kicks, sliding kicks to the nuts, etc. The combat itself works well, but actually using it against enemies with machine guns, shotguns, etc. doesn’t work out too well. Try taking down 5 guys in one room with shotguns just with your fists…not too easy. This requires disarming (timing is a must of course) and either using their guns against other enemies in classic FPS action or just being very fast and outsmarting the enemy with kicks off of walls and all that. While the combat is manageable it’s flawed and makes up most of the trial and error in the game. The game has little trial and error outside combat since most of the deaths are on the player. Try finding out where to go, without runner’s vision, while 10 guys are shooting at you; that can be very tough to do and in some spots, I had to try 20+ times just to get it all right.
With that flaw aside ME proves to be an amazing game and should be played by all FPS fans, Parkour fans, or just action-adventure game fans (PoP fans can come out of hiding now!) With ME’s wonderful soundtrack, graphics, art style, story, and gameplay you will stay busy with the time trials and speed run. I hope ME2 improves upon all of this and I will be there when it comes out.