Monday, January 4, 2010

Mirror's Edge: What Went Wrong and Why

Mirror's Edge is a Bad Good Game. The foundation is solid: players take the role of Faith, a genuinely badass woman with a non-exploitative, unconventionally beautiful design whose motivations revolve around survival and protecting her sister. Faith parkours her way around an unnamed city of bright colors and austere beauty, and is trained in a variety of disarm techniques should she encounter armed attackers she can't simply outrun. Sounds good, right?

In practice, however, the game is plagued by a wealth of bad design decisions. Typical of a Bad Good Game, reception was mixed, with some really liking it while others hated it. The game's narrow appeal is the result of specific design choices - so let's look at some of the things the game did wrong and the misguided design philosophies underlying the errors. (To highlight these decisions, I will be comparing the game to a few others with related mechanics - mostly Prince of Persia.)

Even on the easiest difficulty, the game doesn't hold the player's hand at all. Faith has absolutely no qualms about stepping right off the edge of a skyscraper's roof, and if you're even slightly off with your maneuvering, you will fall to your death. Wallruns are especially problematic - it's very, very easy to start a wallrun incorrectly and get shorted on the distance it covers, and thus fall before you make it to your target. It doesn't even feel predictable - there were several wallrun sections throughout the game that I had to try over and over, and I couldn't even tell you what I did differently when they finally went right.

To cast this in a bit sharper contrast, let's compare it to Prince of Persia. If you put the Prince in the right place and execute the right action, you'll get where you're trying to go. And if you walk the Prince off a ledge, he'll drop down and grab on rather than just step off into nothing and plummet.

Mirror's Edge has a fairly standard tutorial. A couple of characters step the player through the abilities in Faith's arsenal, and they must all be executed successfully in order to proceed. The problem - and it's a common one - is that they are presented rapid-fire, one after another, with nothing to actually help the player internalize them. The combat abilities in particular are unlikely to be recalled when the player finally gets into a fight some time later - it sure took me a while to remember that I had slide- and jump-kicks at my disposal.

Abilities won't stick unless the player can use them in a memorable way. It's much more effective to introduce them a bit more gradually, testing them in real gameplay situations - which Prince of Persia does.

Mirror's Edge has two ways to give the player hints on where to go next. An optional feature called "Runner Vision" highlights important objects in Fath's path by coloring them bright red, and the "Look" button causes Faith to point herself at her next goal.

That's the theory, anyway. Both systems behave strangely - I repeatedly saw ladders turn red as I was already climbing them, and Look would often point me at a wall or ceiling, or simply do nothing at all. Worse, the number of cues gradually goes down throughout the course of the game. Fewer and fewer red objects appear, and the goals designated as Look targets become more widely spaced. These trends culminate in a large atrium late in the game, in which Faith needs to climb up several floors to reach an air shaft. In this area, nothing at all is colored red, and Look uselessly points straight up to the air shaft. The player is totally on their own to figure out how to reach it.

What justification can there be for limiting Runner Vision as the game goes on? It is an optional feature. The player who wants to figure out where to go on their own is free to turn it off - and actually can't turn it on if playing on Hard. Someone playing on Easy with Runner Vision enabled wants the cues. Taking them away from that player is just cruel.

Bringing Prince of Persia in as a comparison again, that game's Compass ability causes a ball of light to illustrate the exact path the Prince needs to take to reach his next objective. There's never any guesswork if the player doesn't want there to be.

These three issues all share a common philosophical cause: Mirror's Edge is deliberately anti-Easy in its design. It demands a great deal from the player and seems to resent the very idea that some players might need a bit more help. There's nothing wrong with providing a high level of challenge - indeed, Prince of Persia was frequently critisized as being too easy, even by those that liked it. The problem is that this higher level of challenge belongs on Hard mode - but I have just described the way the game plays on Easy. Easy should be easy.

Faith stands over the city

There's been some discussion of the differences between the death mechanics in Mirror's Edge and Prince of Persia. In both cases, the effect is that the player is moved back to a checkpoint - but the presentation differs. Faith plummets, faster and faster, until the screen goes black and the player is treated to the sickeningly plausible sound of a wet crunch. A quick load-screen later, Faith stands again at the last checkpoint. The Prince, by contrast, technically never dies - whenever he begins to fall, his companion Elika uses some quick teleportation to bring him back to the last solid ground on which he stood. The result is similar - but the psychological impact is incredibly different. Prince of Persia's technique soothes the player, demonstrating that the game is well aware that the player can't possibly get everything right on the first try, and that this is not cause for shame. Mirror's Edge, on the other hand, rubs the player's nose in the consequences of their inadequacy, making sure they know exactly what they have done to Faith.

"For some players, the sense of total failure that accompanies Faith's dramatic deaths outweighs the sense of relief and accomplishment that they feel when she finally makes it to the next checkpoint. And, by comparison, Elika's constant lifesaving presence must make the Prince feel a lot less heroic and death-defying to some."
Adam LaMasca, Failing, Falling, and Feeling

There are other differences, too. Prince of Persia's death mechanic is unusual in that it offers a diegetic reason for the fact that the player is free to try again, while Mirror's Edge, like most games, offers no in-universe explanation whatsoever, and consequently suffers from the usual immersion-breaking problems. But also, because Mirror's Edge effectively rewinds time to when Faith stood at the checkpoint, it actually undoes progress - sometimes including cutscenes or character speeches, which must now be sat through again. And the checkpoints are definitely further apart than the Prince's solid grounds.

The philosophical reason for this is related to the game's anti-Easy stance. If the player needs to earn their fun, then there must be consequences for failure. The unpleasantness of the consequences in Mirror's Edge stem more from their psychological aspect than their gameplay effect, but they are punishment just the same, and increase player frustration.

Animated rendition of Faith

Mirror's Edge takes place in a huge, gleaming city. To runners like Faith, the rooftops are a playground. But to the player, they are a strangely linear one. The city is not a full open world, but rather a series of disconnected levels, in which there is always exactly one way forward (not counting the minor differentiation of occasional shortcuts). There's not much in the way of exploration - it's just about finding the part of the local environment you're supposed to interact with.

Faith spends about half her time trying to reach specific destinations, and the other half evading pursuit and escaping to safe territory. But even when Faith is running from rather than running to, there's only one way to go. The only real difference is that the path is harder to find, both because of the time pressure added by the pursuit and because the game usually only explicitly shows the player what to flee from, rather than where they should try to go.

The philosophy underlying this is the same one that usually underlies option restriction - by limiting the player's choices to a single path, the designers exert greater control over the game experience. This is often a perfectly valid design decision, but is much more questionable in a game whose central mechanic is freedom of movement. It's also at odds with the philosophy behind the demanding and precise controls mentioned earlier, which theoretically grant the player more freedom - but because the environment is so constrained, they mostly just create additional opportunities to fail.

In Assassin's Creed, Altair can run and climb freely around a few decently-large cities. He has specific targets, but the player is free to devise their own paths and figure out their own escape routes. And the controls are streamlined - point Altair in a direction, and he'll climb as necessary.

Virtual Shackles comic comparing Assassin's Creed controls and Mirror's Edge controls

The single most problematic aspect of Mirror's Edge is the combat. Nowhere else is the game's design philosophy actually in conflict with itself.

Faith is a runner, not a fighter. Parkour isn't about fighting - it "can be compared to some martial arts, but without the violence; in the fight-or-flight response, parkour is the flight."

Faith's ability set is based around moving quickly and disarming opponents when combat can't be avoided. She can use guns she takes from her attackers - but while carrying a gun, she moves slowly, she can barely jump, and she can't climb at all. Whenever Faith holds a gun, it feels wrong. And in fact, the game has an achievement/trophy called "Test of Faith" which is earned by completing the game without ever shooting anyone.

But the timing window on disarming opponents is vanishingly small. It's easy to disarm someone who's facing away, but this opportunity almost never presents itself - anyone Faith attempts to sneak up on will somehow detect her and turn around before she reaches them. And while Faith's tactics are best suited to dealing with one or two enemies at a time - as her own allies remind her - the game has a tendency to throw several enemies at her simultaneously. Even if she manages to disarm one, the others gun her down while she completes the animation.

Only after beating the game (and earning Test of Faith) did I realize something - usually when Faith comes under attack, one or two of the enemies approach her separately from the others who hang back in a group. The game is giving Faith a gun. She is supposed to take it in single combat, and then use it to kill the rest of the group - despite the fact that everything else about the game discourages the use of guns.

Faith disarms an attacker

Philosophically, this is a result of divided vision. The game encourages quick disarms and combat avoidance - and then forces the player into firefights. The game disagrees with itself about how it should be played, leading the player into frustration.

"I think we probably placed too much emphasis on not using the weapons by adding things such as the 'Test of Faith' Achievement. This was intended as something for more hardcore players on a second run-through, but it seems to have encouraged many to attempt it the first time, with the result that they find the game harder and some areas frustrating. . . .

It does seem like a lot of people went for the Achievement, though. Of course, we have to wait for the final figures, but I think it is very interesting that a lot of players were quite happy with the idea of not using guns at all. It certainly shows that there is a lot more to the first-person genre than just shooting, and, yes, if we do make a sequel, it would definitely influence the design."
—Producer Tom Farrer, Mirror's Edge Afterthoughts

A sequel has, in fact, been announced. What can be expected from this sequel depends completely on what DICE has learned from the first Mirror's Edge. It's a pretty experimental game, and the whole reason we experiment is to learn - and often, if we are open-minded, failures teach us more than successes. If DICE looks in the right places, Mirror's Edge has a lot to teach them.

In one scene, Faith eavesdrops on a phone call from an air shaft. Once the person she was spying on leaves his office, Faith inexplicably drops into the office rather than retreating the way she came. In doing so, she apparently triggers an alarm, because she is immediately under pursuit - if she doesn't get out of the area quickly, a large group of security personnel storm in and shoot her dead.

When I played this scene, I found what appeared to be a viable escape route, but my maneuvers were unsuccessful - they ended in a wallrun, and time after time Faith simply failed to grab on to the ledge on the other side, fell several feet and had to start over. But the pursuing security personnel don't give much time to experiment - after two attempts, they burst in, and Faith is as good as dead.

Because of the lack of red objects, and Look not pointing me anywhere particularly useful, it was not at all clear to me whether I was failing to do the correct thing, or simply trying something completely incorrect. With all the wasted time dying and loading from the checkpoint, and the short window in between, it was very difficult to explore enough to be sure. It's just not possible to quickly figure a place out when being shot at.

I kept trying, and finally Faith did grab the ledge, and I was able to continue. But it didn't really feel like I had figured anything out. I had just tried enough times and gotten lucky.

This one scene captures nearly everything wrong with Mirror's Edge. When these factors don't occur - when repeated death doesn't break the flow, and the player either has the time to look around and figure things out or is given the information they need to move and react quickly, and can string together a long sequence of running and jumping and climbing and running, building momentum and flying effortlessly through the city - the game works incredibly well.

Faith executes a wallrun

Mirror's Edge delivers this experience far too rarely, and I cannot in good conscience recommend the game. Play Prince of Persia or Assassin's Creed or Uncharted 2: Among Thieves instead. But if Mirror's Edge 2 manages to consistently provide the experience described above, it will be a fantastic game, and the existence of Mirror's Edge will be completely justified. It will all have been worth it.


  1. I completely agree with you... the game is frustrating and _Runner Vision_ is mostly useless. I do think that it was completely worth the 5 dollars I paid for it.

  2. Completely disagree. Game was a joy to play, controls were very intuitive to me, and only in a couple of rare set pieces did I find combat frustrating. I did "Test of Faith" on my first playthrough and only really found the downstairs battle near the end of the game a little frustrating, but I welcomed it as a good endgame challenge.

    I really hope a sequel will stay true to the original's uncompromising design, and will NOT take cues from the beautiful but challenge-free PoP, which in my mind is as far from good 3D platformer design as one can possibly get.

  3. I can understand how easy should be easy and the game does lose points for that. But what if, in my experience, the game's difficulty was Just Right? A lot of the complaints: getting lost, checkpoints being too far and hard combat only became issues in a few parts of the game for me.

    Does a game fail simply because majority find it inaccessible? High-level Counter-Strike or Starcraft, for example, is quite unfriendly to new players. But even if you can't play it that way, you're still able to appreciate, in some way, how they're good games.

  4. I think your arguments are rediculous. You want a path to light up and show you exactly where to go and how to get there? What is the fun in that? Okay, the controls to run and climb may be a little cumbersome and hard to master but so what? It makes it more interesting and a lot more fun than climbing in Assassin's Creed, where all you do is hold up on the joystick. It takes a few tries and it becomes a game of skill rather than a game that requires no intuition or skill by the player...After playing the demo, which was just the tutorial, you could obviously see that this was not going to be an "easy" game and that is why I liked it. Yeah it took me a few tries to make some jumps and figure out where I needed to go, but you need to appreciate the freedom the game gives you.

    However I did not play the game on easy and I was not expecting an easy game. So yeah, maybe if you were expecting an easy game to hold your hand and walk you through the entire thing, Mirror's Edge is not the game for you. But dont bash a game simply because it wasnt easy enough for you.

    And are you really upset that because you fall off a 50 story building and die you hear a splat? I mean honestly, are you five years old?

  5. Seriously, man?
    You're hating on a game because it didn't guide you through it? because it didn't hold your hand and tell you everything was going to be okay? C'mon man, part of being a gamer is figuring out what to do. Stop expecting to be lead through things and get out there and lead yourself.

  6. I don't think this game was really for you. I also think you missed a lot of what the game was about because you wanted it to be something else. First off, the game started off easy and got harder, with the less runner vision and what not. I don't know why you would want a game to lead you through it by the nose. The early game taught you the items to look for that would help you move through the levels quickly and easily, and then expected you to apply what you had learned. I thought that was great because I don't need my games to be at the same difficulty level the whole way through.

    I used the look button quite a bit, and if it pointed me at a wall, I knew that I had to find away around or over the wall. You also just had to look around your surroundings and find what you could use. You know, like you would if you were really in that room. I know that sometimes the guards got a little close, but I was never too short on time.

    Wall running game me some problems, but it was always my fault. I would come in at a poor angle or jump at the wrong time. It took a while to get good at it. I think it may have been easier for me because I was playing on PC. It was more intuitive there.

    The game was about running. It created the feel and the pace of running across buildings, and most of the time there wasn't even anyone to chase you. When you talk about all the factors coming together near the end, you almost got the point. There are times when it all lines up and you flow like water across the roofs, but that comes with practice. You have to know what you're doing, and that'll never happen if you're waiting for the game to show you what to do and how to do it. I went into the game knowing that there wasn't going to be time to look around because if you've seen people doing free running, they don't stop. I think you should spend your time running the speed trials, it might help you get the point of the whole thing, running as fast as you can making obstacles into advantages.

  7. @Anonymous:
    "Does a game fail simply because majority find it inaccessible?"

    This is a really interesting question!

    Of course a game can really only succeed or fail on its own terms. If I make a game designed only to appeal to a small subset of hardcore fans, I've hardly failed if people outside that group don't like it very much.

    I wrote this essay with an unspoken assumption that because Mirror's Edge is a AAA-title by a large developer with a large budget, it has the goal of having wide appeal. As I've mentioned before, skyrocketing game development costs have meant that the major publishing houses have to shoot for mainstream acceptance to recoup their costs, while low-cost indie games can more safely aim for niches.

    Given this assumption, I do think a AAA-title that is inaccessible to most has indeed failed on some level.

    You mention high-level Counterstrike and Starcraft play as an example of inaccessible gameplay - I think the key phrase here is "high-level." It's good for there to be more challenge for veteran players to master, but that doesn't mean there can't also be "low-level" gameplay to bring in the non-veterans.

    Mirror's Edge's difficulty and design appeal to a certain segment of the population, but by not including an Easy that actually is easy, it unnecessarily leaves a lot of gamers out in the cold. If the difficulty was "Just Right" for you, then there should have been additional, noticeably easier difficulty levels beneath it. The lower-bound on difficulty should be a lot lower than it is.

  8. Looks like somebody's falling back on their performance orientation. Isn't that something you were trying to fix?

  9. @PaleAngelLex:
    I'm with you on the role of Runner Vision, except for one thing: it's optional. Players who don't want to be lead around by the nose don't have to be. For the players who do want the help, giving them the chance to say, "Yes, please, I'll take the safety net" and then slowly yanking it out from under them is just mean.

    I'm glad you were never short on time. I was. It probably takes me longer to figure out a room than it does for you - poor spatial reasoning is the one major flaw of my otherwise magnificent brain. ;) But I know I don't represent the lower-bound of skill levels here. There are plenty of gamers who need more time than I do. And since I was playing on Easy, I know there's no way for them to get more time. This is a problem.

    I did read that the platforming is a bit easier on the PC, since the mouse lets you change your angle much more quickly. With wallruns in particular, this is supposed to make a huge difference. I played on a console, so that's the experience this essay is based on. The frustration level is likely lower on the PC.

    I find it interesting that you say my description of when the game works is where I almost get the point, because I feel that those times are when the game almost gets the point. I probably would have had a better experience had I played with the time trials first, but if they do rescue the experience, then the design error is in putting them off to the side where many players might not even know they exist.

    Here's what Tycho of Penny Arcade had to say about the time trials:

    "I usually hate this kind of OCD ritual, and avoid them, but in Mirror's Edge this is actually the main draw. The 'Runner's Vision' that explicitly marks the official path is gone, here, which liberates you to utilize the environment in an exhilarating, extemporaneous fashion. We'll spend a few minutes on a kind of walking tour of the level, trying to discern its lines, ever in search of some expeditious cranny. In essence, the Time Trials are the game I wanted Mirror's Edge to be."

    If this is what the game is supposed to be - if playing this is what helps you see the point - then why isn't this what the game is?

  10. Seems like lots of people here firmly believe that they are the absolute pinicle of video game suckage.

    That even a retarded kid with one arm, can play as well, or better, than they do.

    Thus, if the game was 'just right' or 'easy' for them; there can't be any reason, at all, ever, imaginable, to allow someone with less gaming skills to enjoy it as well.

    Those people just need to 'man up'. Sorry Bill, it sucks that you lost your arm in Iraq - but if you want to enjoy video games, you need to suck it up, grow another arm or just STFU N0ob. And old people....yeah - sucks to be you. You need to suck it up and just will yourself a better reaction time....or don't. Just die already, video games are not for you.

    And if you haven't already spent countless hours developing an amazing level of hand-eye cordination, at an age when you could afford to put 'playing Super Mario' at the top of your To-Do list....sorry pal. Suck it up, and just play for countless hours (what? A job? A house? STFU - games aren't for you....GTFO) and deal with the frustration and know that you suck. In a few months, maybe you won't suck.

  11. Um hello? its called a learning curve! maybe you should stick to: (insert failing nintendo character here)'s super fun cook shop

  12. I think the biggest problem this game has is the shortness of its single player campaign.

    you say that it gets too hard too fast, well I agree. except for the fact that the game has 9 (or so) levels. if you look at the first couple of levels, they give you a lot of maneuverability and plenty of time to look around (I feel qualified in saying this as I absolutely sucked at the game and found that timing to be not a problem in the first couple of levels)

    if the game were to have a longer single player campaign, it would be able to ease you into harder maps smoother. as it is, the only real fault of this game, as far as I see, is the shortness of its campaign. everything else can be fixed with a few extra levels (provided they're not rehashing of what we have here)

  13. Boo hoo. Why not just write "I suck at videogames therefore this game wasn't fun for me."

    Could have written that and saved yourself and everyone who read this article a whole lot of time.

    Mirror's Edge was a brilliant game and it isn't the creator's fault that you are terrible. Videogames used to be incredibly hard and nobody complained. Do you remember how insanely hard Ghosts 'n Goblins was? I firmly believe nobody has finished that game. Sounds like you finished Mirror's Edge. Nut up or shut up.

  14. Agree completely. Wrote a very similar review on my blog, Multiplayer Singleplayer, not too long ago. A hard video game should be hard because you have to learn and implement a difficult skill. Mirror's Edge is less about learning the skill of, say, wall running, than it is about running against the same wall many times until you happen to hit the correct pixel-wide bounding box. Or, as you mentioned, memorizing a set path through a level which is basically railroading you in a certain direction.

  15. I think it's interesting how this viewpoint about accessibility and difficulty has changed over time due to the availability of so many games.

    Back in the day, there were precious few options for solid games. Also, most of us were probably children without the funds to be buying a new game every couple of weeks. Therefore it was in our interest to have a dificult, punishing game, which would take time. It was a way of encouraging mastery and patience, and the difficulty filled the time between games.

    Now that there games are coming out at an insanely fast pace compared to the 8-bit era, one hardly has the patience to suffer difficult time intensive games where failure means re-playing. We're more of the mind of "let me play it through once, see all there is to see, and move on to the next game". Because lets face it, for today's gamer, there is always a list of games to play next.

    Does that make easier games are better? Perhaps in todays world. But I think the main driving force behind the change in accessibility is the new environment in which the gamer operates.

    If for some bizzare reason games became unpopular and we went into a dark age where a new game you were interested in came out once every couple of months, I think preferences would reverse. We would pine for the difficult, lengthy, hard to conquer games we used to have.

  16. @uhzHiro:
    There's definitely something to this. It's a lot more rare for me to replay games now than when I was a kid.

    That said, I think it's important to note that in videogames, easy and hard are not mutually exclusive. Let's make good use of the ability to have different difficulty levels. When there's a game I love playing, I'm happy to have the option to play through it again on a harder setting. But if the game is inaccessible on its easiest setting, a lot fewer people will be able to love it.

  17. You and I agree on many points regarding Mirror's Edge. And while I agree that it's ultimately not successful in delivering the experience it advertises, I do feel that it offers a number of extradorinary advanced in First Person design -- the use of limbs in camera, and passive interaction with surfaces (such as how Faith places her hands on walls when you walk near them), and the overall control scheme concept (Up/Down/Action buttons for context movement). Certainly a number of problems, bugs and dissapointments, but it's also showcases a number of intelligent choices that we shouldn't ignore.

  18. @Greg:
    You raise a very good point! And this is why I am hopeful about the sequel. It's not unusual for games as experimental as this one to make amazing advances but be mired in deep flaws (Indigo Prophecy springs immediately to mind), and if the sequel overcomes the flaws of its predecessor while refining on its new ideas, it can be something amazing. (Time will tell on whether Heavy Rain pulls that off, but since David Cage identified the exact same problems in Indigo Prophecy's postmortem as I had complained about, I am optimistic.)

    So yeah. The folks at DICE clearly had some interesting new ideas, so there's a lot of potential for Mirror's Edge 2. I can't wait to see whether it lives up to it.

  19. Faith has absolutely no qualms about stepping right off the edge

    Issues with 'boundary fail safes' alone deserve specific investigation. I'm considering ranting on it myself after getting annoyed in inFamous with getting shards that hang precariously over water to only end up falling in and dying because the fail safes are either too strong or simply missing.

    While not having it is frustrating in Mirror's Edge, inFamous just kind of botches it, so there's some merit in not simply putting _something_ in. I think it's hard thing to implement in ME's case. PoP's mechanic was really nice but it isn't exactly applicable to all games including ME. In PoP if you jumped too early into oblivion it was a magic hand that saves you not grabbing an edge.

  20. @Shane:
    I prefer your term to that used by TVTropes, namely "Edge Gravity" (which to me suggests something that pulls you off the edge).

    I'm okay with games allowing you to jump from ledges. I mean, you probably did that on purpose. But it seems overly punishing - not to mention unrealistic - to let you casually stroll off a deadly-high ledge because you got a bit too close. It seems completely plausible to me that Faith would, like the prince, drop down and grab on instead.

    I haven't gotten around to inFamous yet, but it does sound like they botched it - TVTropes claims it goes so far that "You can't just walk onto the street from the sidewalk, you must make a five foot leap." I'd agree that's worse than nothing.

  21. I agree on many of the points that you make about Mirror's Edge, however like several others, I can't help but disagree on your main point regarding the game's difficulty.
    As you said in "Awesome By Proxy," I think one's enjoyment of many modern games comes down to his performance orientation. I, as a mastery-oriented gamer, loved the increase in difficulty that Mirror's Edge offered.
    Unlike you, I didn't feel like my successes were due to luck, but by a genuine improvement in skill.
    It makes me sad to think that all games need an easy mode these days. I understand that the focus of games is increasingly on story-telling (Mirror's Edge is bottom-of-the-heap there), however what reward is there in knowing that your success is due only to mediocrity? When one beat an old-school game, it was due to genuine skill of the player and game him a feeling of accomplishment.
    Do gamers play now to finish out a story, as if watching a movie? Or are they merely "Addicted to Fake Achievement"?

  22. @Anonymous:
    There are two things to keep in mind here. One is that the presence of an Easy mode doesn't preclude the presence of a Hard mode. Giving people who would otherwise be unable to complete the game the ability to do so doesn't prevent you from refining your skills and overcoming difficult challenges.

    The other is that there really are gamers out there who need Easy mode. As a previous commenter sarcastically pointed out, and as I've examined in an earlier post, Easy mode isn't for lazy people. It's for people who wouldn't otherwise get to share the experience.

  23. Like, most others I agree and disagree with you to certain extents. I played and beat the game but only after restarting a few of the mission climbs, several .. SEVERAL times! I also had a bad problem with feeling motion sick (strangely enough I've never had motion sickness in my life! until playing this) ;P I was determined though, after having to retry and retry some of the areas of the game, I finally finished it. All in all, I didn't think it was as difficult as it seemed to be for you, maybe I was just able to catch the walls, polls, rails and .. boxes the right way ;P

    I feel it's almost sad to know developers "NEED" to make an easy mode, as well. However, I have friends that cant hit a zombie standing in front of them with a baseball bat, hell I even have friends that have claimed Assassin's Creed is too "hard" because they cant grasp the concept of walk, pull right trigger .. climb, lol! ...

    Everyone can't have amazing gaming skills, but with easy mode atleast it's possible for everyone to have a good time! (AND! if you're not "special" like other's playing with you, you'll seem like a total badass, as well!?)

    Very detailed and informative review, sir!

  24. I for the most part agree with your review. I will state that when the game works, meaning when everything on a level allows you to run full speed without much thought and find your path, the game is an incredible experience. I felt real vertigo and exhilieration rushing across the roof tops. If they come out with DLC I will be first in line for it.

  25. Also, I completely agree about hard vs easy. Every game should have a super easy setting that is just about making it through the game. Some people just want to make it through the story of the game and experience it and are less interested in the a challenging game experience. I think this is a really hard concept for normal gamers.

  26. I'll begin with your first assertion: namely that the game doesn't hold your hand at all. The situation you describe - Faith falling over the edge of the building if you misstep, is nothing more than the game designers trusting the player and leaving the responsibility with them. When you perform and action, Mirror's Edge executes that regardless of what will happen, mostly because YOU the player are in total control, and must therefore accept all the consequences of your actions. This is a GOOD thing.

    The tutorial is internalized in the first level 'Prologue'. This is an easy level designed to have you do everything you'll need to do in the game: wallrun, cross poles, engage in combat etc. Again, the game presents you with these in order for you to learn in an organic way. The tutorial simply tells you the moves exist - the prologue actually has you apply them. It doesn't explicitly say how though, and that's up to you to determine. Again, the game promotes free thought and leaves responsibility with the player.

    A player who plays a videogame doing only what they are told, not engaging in any free thought or discovery or experimentation on their own, is akin to that of a child. These are the qualities of a fully mature human being: someone who is responsible for himself, and makes decisions for himself while thinking freely.

    Are we getting to the point where gamers are stuck in perpetual childhood? Your atrium example is a perfect one. You knew you needed to reach the air duct. Instead of examining the area and using the techniques you already learned in order to figure out how to get to the top, figuring out a route for yourself, you complain that the way isn't highlighted for you. Heaven forbid you have to think for yourself.

    I suggest you search the internet for some of the Speedrun videos. These are people take full advantage of what the game provides, devising their OWN shortcuts, many of which certainly weren't intended by the designers.

    MIrror's Edge was extremely refreshing, since instead of treating the player like a child as most games do, it instead lets you be an adult. If you're not ready for that, you'll find it overwhelming and frustrating, but if you are, then you are given the greatest gift of freedom and responsibility.

  27. I appreciate your detailed breakdown of Mirror's Edge. I wanted to add one other flaw in the game, one that is very very common: the lack of fully customizable controls.

    ME offered (if I recall) three control schemes, all of which had the primary buttons mapped to the trigger. I felt the game had promise as I played the demo, but I just couldn't get used to 'jumping' with the trigger button. Therefore I stopped evaluating the demo and did not purchase the game.

  28. @Anonymous:
    Interestingly enough, this is something addressed in the Afterthoughts interview:

    1UP: Speaking of which, how come you didn't give players the option to customize their controls? This seems odd, especially in a game that depends so much on mastering the controls.

    [Producer Tom Farrer]: We made the decision to limit the control customization options for the very reason that it was important to master them. We found that many players instinctively wanted to move the "up" button to A [on 360, or] X on PS3, since that is where they are used to having "jump" in first-person games. We had removed all movement controls from the face buttons because having them there actually lessens the degree of control available to the player. If you have to take your thumb off the right analog to jump, you immediately lose a lot of control and make the game more difficult for yourself.

    So for this reason we wanted the movement controls to stay on the shoulder buttons. We actually used a similar control scheme for Battlefield 2: Modern Combat on the PS2. After some initial complaints, players started to realize the benefits there.

  29. After briefly reading through some of the comments on here for this post, I really agree with one thing.

    I have never played Mirror's Edge, but I am sick and tired of nutjob hardcore gamers that seem to get off of by being rude to others because they happen to play better than some.

    Games...are about having fun, and learning, they are not some weird sado-masochistic ritual where the strong torture the weak. Please, Jocks should stick to being Jerks in football.

    Mirror's Edge sounds like an interesting game, but it certainly does not seem like the type of game I would play with a shallow psychologically inept, unware "hardcore" moron sitting around.

    I particular enjoyed the comment about the psychological punishment of the player during the death. Death is not something regulated to the 5-year-old, as some have said, there are plenty of humane people who abhor it. The decision to include that gory detail upon player failure in un-necessary, and only serves to numb the mind the significance of the phenomenom. Those who truly have no issue with death need to be evaluated psychologically, in my opinion.

  30. Hey Dice must have listened to you. They made Mirror's Edge easy.

    All you gotta do is swipe!

  31. @Cody Miller:
    I think they took more of a cue from Canabalt than from me, but it's interesting to see nonetheless. :)

    Kotaku wrote about the connection as well.

  32. One mistake in this review is comparing Mirror's edge to Prince of Persia or Assasin's Creed or any other 3rd person game in existence. You are missing the major point of the game. The goal of Mirror's Edge is to make you FEEL like you ARE standing at the edge of a parapice and about to leap off. The game is and should be unforgiving and the results of failure in the game should be a gruesome death. To be honest they could've made it much more gruesome but all you hear is a crunch and see darkness.. they were merciful in this regard. Knowing that the game is unforgivable made my assent in the atrium level much more exciting and standing on slim ledges much more terrifying. The game makes you feel alive more than any other video game I have played. I am a disabled person and could never do the things that faith does in the game, but thanks to the realistic feel the designers put into this game, it exhilirates me and makes me feel alive. Knowing that slipping off a ledge = death makes the ledge scarier which makes the game better. The combat should be improved or removed, eithor way works for me.. although I had no problems with the combat, it felt misplaced. Also as realistic feeling as the rest of the game is, it felt silly for faith to be able to accurately shoot baddies without having to aim down a sight. If you are going to have gun combat in a game that concentrates so much on feeling real, said gun combat should feel just as real as the rest of the game. Hopefully the next Mirror's edge fixes this or just removes it completely.

    The game takes practice to get good at and I see absolutely nothing wrong with this at all. I thoroughly enjoy trying to get a good time in the time trials and if you think playing the single player game is frustrating try shaving a second off your best time in a time trial. Mirror's edge is for those with patience, the impatient need not apply. My best time in Chase is 1 minute 10 seconds and in playground one, 54 seconds.

    There's my two-cents.

    PS: Rude people suck

  33. Also to crystal,

    You are not the only person who has reported motion sickness from this video game, many people are driven to retch from it. It actually is caused because the game is designed so well as to make your brain feel it is actually in Faith's body. Fortunately, it doesn't make me sick but I enjoy the fact that it feels this real.

  34. The game was very easy. I don't get it why people are finding it difficult. It is different from any other game. Whats the fun if all games are like prince of persia.

  35. I've had particular problems judging distance in the game, not being able to see your feet while making a heroic leap to a flag or pole that's clearly marked only to have faiths hand pass through the object in question is very anoying, for a free running game one expects tobe able to chain events quickly and effiently to keep the games fast pace, but this is impossible when it bugs and you become a pavement pancake, you can try and call it a learning curve but it's really not, first person view doesn't suit a platform game and was really a bad decesion on the developers side to narrow your field of vision to this alone. i agree with the OP, while clearly the design is well intented it's falws are glaring and only afew who repeatly die over and over to learn the levels are going to get the most out of this game. least that's my 2 cents.

  36. I had to go back and read my review of the game (you can read it here: Surprisingly I agreed and pointed out everything you did. Although I gave it more credit because I consider it more of a concept game and enjoyed its matrix-like style.

    I think a major problem was the fact that it seemed to changed what genre it wanted to be, early on it was a fun fast paced game where you jumping and running, but later on in levels like the atrium, it became a tedious platformer.

  37. Again I say .. any other viewpoint than 1st person and the game wouldn't be the game it is. period. Maybe the devs could've done a bit more polishing.. no .. no maybe.. definately they could've done more polishing. But making it any other viewpoint than 1st person wouldn't have been polish but a complete failure of the excitement they were trying to achieve. It is amazing to me now how people are still considering first person games as old hat when every single game in existence now is.. top down or third person. For example.... name one first person mmo... ooooh thats right.. you cant. Everyone wants games to be movies where they can control the hero, first person games are games where YOU are the hero. One of the most ridiculous examples of this logic is the Avatar game. The whole thing that was kewl about the fiction in Avatar the movie was that the hero WAS the alien in avatar and had to learn how to be a part of that culture... did he do this in third person...NO NO NO. Yet in Avatar the game.. guess what.. thats right... same old third person viewpoint... GAG! Sigh, I give up.

  38. Video games today are made like McDonalds makes a Big Mac and Fries combo. Not necessarily an intelligent thing to digest, but who cares, as long as it's cheap, easy, convenient, and appeals to the largest consumer base. I long for the days when gamers where the geeks of the world and everyone else stuck to HBO. Now "kewl graphics" rules the gameing world... phhhhh.

  39. Maybe I was more successful at the game or the PC version is easier to play, but having just bought it off Steam and completed it on normal in three hours, I can’t say it was that hard or frustrating. I can see some of the flaws you mention; however, it didn’t appear that flawed of a game, just an average game.

    The complaint against the disappearing clues doesn’t register with me. The challenge of the game is in finding the correct path to take, and then figuring out how to get where you need to go utilizing your abilities. With that figured out, you need to find the right timing and execute the moves. Scaling back the clues makes the challenges more difficult as the player progresses through the game. Yes, there are times when you are circling an area looking for the right path, but you are stuck for minutes, not hours, and it’s designed in a similar vein to solving a puzzle. While the last two levels were distinctly harder, I had less trouble navigating than executing.

    The death complaint resonates—especially when compared to Prince of Persia. I was never immersed in this game. I was merely playing through it. But just because I didn’t have a deeper connection doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable. I wouldn’t recommend the game because it was short with a mediocre narrative and limited game play, but it wasn’t frustrating for me. I had fun eluding capture, hurdling 8 foot obstacles, defying gravity, and I found the checkpoints were close enough that dying multiple times in one area never bothered me.

    I agree that combat was awkward, but it wasn’t atrocious. It was clearly a game not designed around shooting, and whose premise felt like the character wouldn’t wield a gun; but you could be effective with a gun. It’s not Counter-Strike, but it’s not Duck Hunt.

    The main vexation I had with combat was that it was easier for me to disarm the first guard I saw (which usually took a few deaths to get right as I never used the slow-motion ability), then kill the next guard I spot, switch guns and repeat, than it was for me to avoid all the guards. That was a grievance for me because I would start by trying to avoid engaging, but would end up circling, looking for the right path, and would get caught in crossfire. After a few deaths, I decided I wanted to find the path in peace. But running around after killing the guards was less exhilarating compared to the gunfire, shattered glass, and the sound of runner guards on your tail. I would have liked to never have used a gun, but the guns made the game easier.

    I remember the office level in the wrestler's building vividly. I kept looking at a string of glass windows and jumping into them hoping they would break or Faith would grab something. After two deaths from the guards, I decided a gun and dead guards would make things a lot easier. Next thing you know, the path is safe and the glass windows are destroyed. That level was no more frustrating than any other time I died miss-jumping.

    By the way, you knew there was a slow motion feature, right? I used it once with the first guard to figure out disarming and realized it was too easy, but it is there if you need it. Of course, forgetting about it is no surprise since the tutorial level is useless. You finish the level with barely any confidence and are unaware of some of the more advanced moves like leaping backwards while hanging on a ledge, jumping after a wallrun, breaking through glass, or combo moves to disarm. The tutorial was poorly done, and the comprehension you have of your skills at the end is little more than knowing what button performs what action.

    All in all, it's just your average game: not great, not bad. And certainly not worth blasting.

  40. My beef with this game is it doesn't feel Fluent at all . You run Grab slip , yeah I guess you can get use to any game but i don't want to Get the feel fore a Flawed game . Time Trials are impossible since I don't have time to devote my Life to a Developers interpretation of a "Challenge" to me its hard because the game feels flimsy

  41. I, personally, enjoy playing Mirror's Edge. I disagree with it being hard at all, actually... except for the final level. Granted, you are right with the flaws, but really it just takes patience. I actually was amazed at how well I was doing, since it was the first game I never bothered to look up cheats for.
    Great games appeal to everyone, but I suppose Mirror's Edge wouldn't fall into that category.
    There was one spot where I almost destroyed my computer, though. I think it was where you said were you need to grab onto a ledge after wall-running. I always was able to grab it, I just kept hitting the down-movement key, so Faith would just grab it for a millisecond and then drop.
    Nonetheless, it's still a good game, in my opinion. The controls were great on the computer, especially with so many moves and so little keys. The combat is a little too much for this game, though, since it's supposed to be more about moving through tight-spots (giggity), but it's still great blasting away enemies with a highly-detailed M249 Machine Gun, which is probably my favorite part of the game, but it's not the reason why I got it.
    The parkour was amazing, and I am looking forward to Mirror's Edge 2 almost as much as HALF-LIFE 2: EPISODE THREE!

  42. Best Le Pakour game I have ever played.
    Anyone can say what they want, but it won´t change the fact that i love this game.

  43. I have to agree with Grim Eden with most of the points he made. I played this game on PC and it never felt hard to me at all. And I definitely wouldn't consider myself a hardcore gamer anymore; I play games maybe 5 to 10 hours a week now and that's even stretching it.

    I do agree that their whole combat system should be scrapped though. Combat was easily the most awkward part in this whole game. Every time I had to fight guards I just felt this sinking feeling like I wasn't really having fun anymore. It just felt very clunky.

    I really hope that Mirror's Edge 2 ends up refining the original and coming out as an even better product. I had more fun with this game than I did with Far Cry 2 or Crysis. I wouldn't say that it beat out Left 4 Dead 2 or Dragon Age though.

  44. I have issues with several comments that people are posting.
    Some people are saying the equivalence of "Let's line up all the bad guys in iraq and blow their brains out with one bullet" You can't expect a games ease to come like that. Realistically, objects in real life aren't laid out for you, and meant for you, to parkour on. Don't expect everything to be a straight line. The point is not to BE FAST when you parkour but to be EFFICIENT in your choice of movement to your destination, lets keep that in mind.

    Another thing, the death animation/sound is of no relevance for ANY discussion. I play a lot of military FPS games but does that mean I have a sadistic desire? When you see me in the news for murder THEN come bash me. All games have psychological effects; the music, the ambience, the storyline, but why do we consider this a flaw? Let it be for effect/realism/attention to detail, whatever you want to call it. In no way is the death animation a "put down". If you fall off a 50 story building, your bones WILL break, lets be honest. The way a developer chooses to animate death is what best suits the storyline and circumstance. You expect to hear a cartoony "BOING!" sound when you fall off that building? I expect to hear what's most realistic.

    As far as the difficulty goes I have sympathy for the people that NEED an easy difficulty, I use to be this way too. I hardly play games on the easiest difficulty anymore because the difficulty level makes me enjoy it better, because I'm spending more time on that game. If it takes me a month to beat a game(it has happened before) that i could have beaten in 2 days on the easiest setting, then I feel really good after beating it(despite broken controllers and repeated cussing =D ). I do believe in challenges and if you keep playing on a harder difficulty(for you) you will get better, just look passed the frustration.

    ME is, at some degree, meant to be a puzzle/strategy game where you, yourself, actually need to figure out what to do. Eliminating the need to think will eliminate one of the games design choices. But if you simply cannot get passed certain issues with the game then just move on, there isn't a need to devalue the rep of a developer. Most of your arguments I don't find valid because they frustrate you on a personal level in which ALOT of people here disagree with; it wasn't an actual game mechanic flaw.

  45. This review is now a year old so my addition will be entirely useless but having just come out of a frustrating play in ME I need to vent.

    - Sloppy or non-existent triggering or trigger placement -
    When you create a 'real world' equivalent and a game that is entirely dependent on it reacting in the expected manner, you're doing your player a disservice and hurting their experience when only half of it does. Why should you plummet to your death when the edge you just barely missed is in the same reach as some other surface you'd normally connect with? Or fail a running jump that could have been made standing still? It makes no sense. I understand the implementation challenges and the limited resources and time to fit every situation, but much of ME's faults in this regard were a black and white no-brainer. Some basic middle ground animation and reaction work would have made a world of difference.

    And no, as someone who's job is surviving in a dangerous environment that will guarantee death at most times, you aren't just going to fall off a building. There is a real difference between making a conscious decision to leap and then fall versus slipping and catching yourself. This is not hand-holding, but a natural reaction to the situation. To add to that, the cut-scene fade and your in-game placement are not defined. You can move during the change and since most of your level origins start at an edge its very easy to die uselessly.

    And for a game that is almost entirely based on a few hundred static environment pieces that the character interacts with, why the sloppy trigger reaction? The Ropeburn atrium portion that you described is a prime example. There is nothing special about that wall run (even if it isn't marked), it just doesn't react right most of the time. I've thrown myself from pipe to pipe in the expected manner but then fall away with no response from the character (and repeatedly at one point through the geometry). Or the ubiquitous stack of boxes or bricks you use to vault with but will stop you dead. People who associate this with poor skill, bitching, or whatever, don't understand immersion, how it effects them, or that it is a subjective experience that effects many in a legitimate manner.

    - Poor momentum indication -
    The lack of a HUD or any other measure of the situation is completely understandable and part of ME's minimalistic appeal. On the other hand your ability to traverse the terrain is entirely dependent on your pace measured in some unknown number. Until you reach the very high level where the blur and breath intake kick in, you never really know if it is fast enough for the game to react in the fluid manner you expect. Practice will tell you of course but the overall scheme needed more fleshing out.

    - Combat -
    As it's been said, the weakest portion. Ineffective and about as developed as the original Doom. Super-human guards who respond near instantaneously from running full body chest kicks and testicle shots. Even when you do disarm a guard, the weapons only work part time. I shotgunned a guard three times in the face from a few feet away to no effect. Why force a fight at all with so many ways to literally avoid it? Or why not include some minor personal effects to create diversions and hindrance. Smoke or flash bangs would have solved most confrontations.

    I guess in the end what tears the most is that the shadows of what ME could have been are nearly in reach while playing but you end up stuck with the reality of its failures. This is a simple game with simple rules (basically one long quick-time event) and it makes the problems that could have been solved with better planning and clearer intent that much more frustrating. I give credit where it is due though and both Dice and EA (who rarely sticks its neck out) deserve some for what was tried here. As you said hopefully they learn a great deal from this experiment and Mirror's Edge 2 achieves everything the first could not.

  46. Hi,

    You have written one of the most interesting bits of analysis I have read in sometime on any subject.

    The fact that it is about a game I have long been interested as a hard core gamer and just today bought and sadly been disappointed with for the reasons you so very well articulate is amazing.

    You sir are an A1 game reviewer - top notch analysis.

    I'm highly impressed as what you say is just so well thought through and true!

    Incredible review.

    I so agree that M Edge is a bad good game - it could be amazing - the idea is great but the execution in the areas you mention is so true.

    I've stopped playing it - one reason for this is the constant deaths of Faith and your comment about players having their noses rubbed in it with is so true - the training area flashes: "Failed" all the bloody time yet I am doing EXACTLY as told by the tutorial - now that is VERY annoying.

    And like I said I am a hard core gamer - been playing since I was 10 or 12 and I am now 36 and I still play for 10 plus hours a week - it's not like I dont know how to game but the tutorial was not fair - and thats at the start of the game and is a tutorial for Gods sake what is the rest like!

  47. Ok, I do admit the game was frustrating at points, such as like you mentioned, level Heat. However the game makes you think on your feet and try things over several times. You can do the same thing maybe a hundred times over, but once you finnaly get it, once you finnaly do the right combo to get to one place, or manage to defeat a group of heavily armored cops. Oh man does it feel good. I tried getting out of that mall with that darned machine gun shooting me maybe a hundred times my first attempt. But when I got through, I felt so good about it, that I started hooting and hollering. Now if you find the game to hard for you, or you just can't think on your feet and play a hard game on easy right, well that's you. But I know that me and my fellow gamers will keep trying till we get the right combination that has you loving the game and its amazing graphics, ideas, and the challange it presents the player. True enough it is hard, and the punishment for failure is rather... annoying. That sweet victory plenty reward for the shear beauty the game stands for and the freedom.

  48. The game is great. It has some frustrating parts, and you die, but what else is new? You know what it doesn't have? a number of lives you have before you have to start all the way back at the beginning of the game or mission like every game I played from 1991-2000. Frankly, this is a good game and accomplishes what it sets out to do. Refining it and improving it would be great, but please don't compare it to assassins creed. They aren't the same type of game. Assassin's creed is an exploration game. The challenge isn't in the climb, it's in picking the right route. It's not a platformer. Mirror's edge is a platformer. It's like Sonic made relevant again, and the challenge SHOULD be in choosing the right route and timing your jumps correctly. I played the game on normal, and I hardly ever used the guns I took from people. In fact, I hardly ever disarmed people. I was doing slide kicks and jump kicks off walls, and then just escaping the ones that weren't in my way. When I did disarm enemies I usually just tossed the gun and kept running, because fighting them was harder than just finding an alternate route half the time. Besides, you haven't lived until you do a wall jump off of a box into a flying kick to the face on some guy who was totally convinced he was going to blow your head off. Someone might complain that I'm gifted in spatial reasoning or twitch reflexes or especially creative, but...nope. I died a lot, and I experimented a bit knowing I would die because I wanted to try stuff. When you get it right, though, it is so sweet!

    And complaining about a falling thing is kinda petty. It's short, the game loads back up quick, and it's a lot less disturbing than what can happen to you in a lot of other games. Heck, I've felt like the game was taunting me when I would fall in the lava in Super Mario World and Mario would make that face and fall off the screen and music would play. It's not new, unusual, or anything else. Why the problem? Mario might be a bit less gruesome, but Bowser doesn't assassinate anyone and isn't going to kill Peach.

  49. The whole thing about them "giving you a gun" and going against philosophy isn't something I'm mad at. Take the game Dishonored. They keep telling you "Oh be sneaky and don't kill, you get a better ending," yet they do nothing but throw cool toys at you to kill. Because of this, like any good game, you play twice (or thrice, If I'm the only person in the world who uses the word) just so you can experience both worlds. First Mirrors Edge playthrough, I went on Easy, full combat. Next time, Normal mode, no combat. I never used runner vision for either go, and I never got lost, except in hectic combat where I would lose my way a moment. It was only frustrating when they put you in close quarters (like on the ship or in the factory). It's a Free Running game, meant for outdoors, and that was the one thing I didn't like.

    But really, its first person free running. In real life, you can die if you miss. The sickening crunch and the fuzzy screen edge when you fall down is supposed to smack you in the face. I never minded it.

    Also, I never like comparing games unless necessary. You compare ME to Assassin's Creed and Prince of Persia. ME is a free running first person platformer. AC is a third person semi-stealth part-action-part-free running game. Prince of Persia is just Middle Eastern free running that holds your hand the whole time (don't get me wrong, I loved PoP, but it was just far too easy). ME is supposed to be a bit hard, I guess a few things could be better (such as how Faith grabs things, especially pipes that always seem to elude my grasp) and more polished *COUGH*combat*COUGH* but I loved it. It was the adrenaline rush I needed. I didn't want a story, I wanted freedom, and it delivered (only in the first few missions, but eh, it worked).

    Is ME my favorite? No. But was it good? Yes. ME2 is being made, and its getting polished. Hopefully the weak melee combat and the sometimes iffy environmental grabs will get fixed.

  50. I paid $5 for the game. My initial expectations were low. So, I shouldn't be too critical.
    However, the wall runs were never repeatable. In higher levels, mastering the wall runs are just not enough. In one level, you wallrun, press Q for 90* and jump on to the fans on the opposite wall. Now, I tried the same in "The Boat" where you stand on the ventilation duct run & try to grab the opening sent on the opposite wall. You are supposed to grab the invisible bars on the left (just the same scenario). Every time I pressed Q, Faith always shifted 180* & landed on her ass or worse fell through the cracks & died.

    I agree with falling to death too. It's jarring & disturbing because being shot at in games are different than falling from a tall building. The sense of height is very real.

    From experiment I found that you must begin your wall run (w + space) on precisely the last step of the solid ground you're on. If you had even have a step of solid ground left when you jumped on to the wall (even if you had momentum), you'd fall short.

    Also, the time window for disarming is so low that one time when the shooter was standing right there on the railings on floor above & you were supposed to run (once the sliding door's opened enough), leap off cartons on the floor to the ledge, pull yourself up, turn right, disarm all in one fluid motion. If your leap was a little off, you die. If you fail to grab the first time, you die. In this one instance, the game didn't "offer" a gun, it invited me to get killed over & over till I got it right. And this is "normal" level of difficulty.

    I played on PC so I can't really comment on how easy the controls for the consoles were. I'm a casual gamer having played only the Mass Effect series & Battlefield 4 before trying this. I'm no way an expert or aspire to become one in Single person shooter games. But these other games I felt were more forgiving. Mass Effect 3, the first play around I was hiding most of the time & using a sniper rifle only but still the game was forgiving enough for me to make progress. Though I never felt the frustration of having stuck at a particular place (may be because I watched walkthroughs and googled my difficulties) for long, when I did get it right, I never felt confident I could replicate the feet. So, I created another Windows User (strangely you have ONE save per user!) & started a new game to play when I got stuck on my mainline. The backup line then became mainline & so on.

    Looking forward to Mirror's Edge 2. Hope Dice listen to feedback & fix the negatives. Positives are many in this game. Well worth the $5 I spent. Will pay $50 more for ME2 only if they'd fix the shortcomings.

  51. I'm sorry, but i might literally disagree with every single point you have.

    First, there are two ways to get through a game you have trouble with. Turn the difficulty down, or try again until you figure out what went wrong. Even a one armed child in Iraq is perfectly capable of trying something a few times. And with Faith falling off of ledges, it's actually essential to the game. If you took it out, you would subsequently be unable to do many efficient runs where you must run directly off a ledge onto another without jumping. Likewise, I feel it totally pulls you out of the immersion when you're running along and suddenly the game's like "Nope, you can't do that, I have to save you. I know you pressed forward, but see, I grabbed the ledge for you instead." If I press forward, being thrown back the wrong direction like in POP, AC, or inFamous kills the experience for me. In would rather fall and go "whoops, better not do that again."

    The tutorial was fine. Short, sweet, to the point. actually, It was incredibly well done in my opinion. Not to mention, the option to free run the entire tutorial area, letting you test out all sorts of stuff, even after going through the game, without being shot at. And, the abilities not only were memorable, they're intuitive. Up, down, 180. Those are the only controls you need for a majority of the game. All movement comes from stringing those into logical combinations.

    The entire game acts as a tutorial. If you miss something, it's fairly easy to try again. You AREN'T SUPPOSED to get it your first try. If you do, on any game, your difficulty is set too low. There's no fun in games that don't challenge you. I've had way more fun with games I've played long enough to have gotten bored with and never beat than games I beat in a few hours. As for runner vision, that's also part of the tutorial. It fades over time cause you're not supposed to need it. You should have caught on very early on that wooden ramps meant to jump and pipes/ladders meant to climb, and ledges meant to grab onto. Path finding is very easy once you've played through the first few levels really.

    The death scenes are astonishing. Never, not once, in a game have I ever felt consequence. I never conserve money, I run into an enemy camp with a grenade for laughs, I jump off of stuff so I can see how badly textured the bottom of the chasm looks. In this game though, you go "Oh man, I just died. I didn't jump in time, and I died. Yea I come back, but I didn't like that." This is because the game doesn't connect you to a character, like in POP, AC, inFamous, or most other games you mentioned. That's the purpose of first person. If a video game death causes you psychological damage, that's not the games fault. In fact, that's probably an indication you already have some kind of condition, because it really shouldn't affect you that much unless you're ability to separate reality from fantasy is damaged.


  52. …Continued

    The linearity is frustrating but ultimately necessary to hold a decent story line, and is rectified by the time trials which offer alternative courses in each of the levels, making it much more freedom focused. If nothing else were changed, I would hope EA adds to this aspect.

    I have gone through and achieved the "never shoot a gun" award and the "never get shot" award in the same run through. I've also gone and made it my goal to kill as many as possible in a runt through. I actually have to disagree with probably the most people here. I love, LOVE, the combat in Mirror's Edge. From the single cop who can be killed in a jump kick and 1-2 punches to an armada of swat team members who must be strategically eliminated using the most advanced combat moves and evasion, Mirror's Edge made me extremely happy with it's combat for one reason: Realism. Set aside the fact you can't aim and you regenerate wounds at a superhuman rate, and you have a profoundly unique combat system. It's more fast paced combat than any other game I can think of. In real combat timing is everything, momentum makes hits hurt harder, and a petite Asian girl will not last long against multiple armed guards if she charges at them head on. I haven't played on easy in a while, I remember combat being exceedingly boring though, so that may be where your problem was. On hard, a few bullet wounds or two hits with the butt of a rifle and you're gone. And it makes it much more satisfying to single out one guard, perform and epic disarm, shoot the other guard, run out of ammo (no ammo gauge or reloads, huge plus for me in terms of realism), wallrun kick another guard and disarm him, ect... And weapons provide a very interesting decision, especially when multiple types are presented. Carry, or run? Semi autos are nearly useless except on street cops, but slow you down little to none. Snipers and LMGs are the most combat effective (except possibly for unarmed combat) but mean you run like a turtle, can barely jump, and are incapable of grabbing onto ledges. And this dilemma goes perfectly with EA's philosophy. Yes, there are guns, and in close combat they are surely a viable option. But so is unarmed combat, and the guns will really only slow you down in the long run. I love that Mirror's Edge actually gives you a choice, instead of being like "No, runners don't use guns. Even if it's lieing on the floor and they'll die if they don't use it. It's just not an option."

    Anyway, I actually ran out of time to finish this, so I'm done early. Bye:)

  53. Thank you for articulating exactly why I spent the last hour cursing angrily at pixels on a screen. The game is punishing. And beautiful. Very, very, beautiful. Not pretty enough to keep me playing at this point though. I'm glad I bought it for $5 because if I had spent any more I would be cursing even louder. I can't imagine that they had normal gamers play test this game in its current form. I sincerely hope they do improve the sequel. Unfortunately when they make it actually playable... by humans- not cyborg like beings intent on spending every waking hour perfecting every twitch of their fingers, those same twitchy players will squeal and pout about how "they ruined it".

  54. I know this is an old article, but thank you.

    I've been on the fence about this game for a while because of mixed feedback.
    I am not fond of over hard games and tend toward things that allow me to be a little more free as I explore the plot, but I think I'll get this one anyway.
    knowing what I am getting into will help curb the frustration,

  55. It's actually quite fun to see people not understand what went wrong. Sure, if the game was aimed at Hard Core gamers that wanted something new the game succeeded. But, as you implied and seems the more logical aproach, the game wasn't aimed at a niche gaming comunity, it was aimed at the general public (AAA), if a game designer aims at such a thing there's absolutely no excuse to justify the game, it had bad checkpoint design a rather "open" level design with a super restricted and streamlined "clear" answer to jump from level to level, and of course the horrendous tutorial not only forces you to do whatever the developer wanted you to do but it also discourages you to try different things (as it shows a "failed" screen and resets the level), sure other triple A games can get away with it because they have already established game mechanics (FPS, Racing, etc.) but a game with completely new game mechanics and commands can't afford to do that. Sorry but the game falls flat on important game design decisions, it's not a matter of liking it (I actually enjoyed the good things about it) it's a matter of designing correctly.

  56. You make a great point! I have Mirrors Edge and even on the easy difficulty, it is hard to play and I find myself to rage-quit ALOT, despite me not normally doing when I am playing other games. Also you are right about runner vision as well, it does not always help, especially on the level when Faith triggers some sort of alarm while talking to her sister Kate, as when you are running from the guards, you get two chances, then you get shot down due to a lack of skill or direction. Also, when Faith dies by falling, I remember feeling genuinely frightened and I felt very guilty for causing her death. And do you know what's truly bad? How beautiful the game is.
    To sum up this comment:This game Beautiful and bedazzling, but hectic and harmful.