I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I bought Mirror’s Edge. After my first session I was suitably impressed and still find myself replaying it from time to time.
The tutorial provides all the basic knowledge that you’ll need to know, although at that’s pretty much the last of the help. It can be another 30 minutes to an hour or so later before certain techniques are necessary (perhaps a few days or a week if you finish your session after the first or second level), which means that you are unlikely to have really retained all the required knowledge.
Perhaps this could have been improved by providing the basic moves first of all then a few of the more challenging techniques later on. This approach would also be an excellent opportunity to teach the difficult, but cooler, combat moves. All optional of course.
Alternatively you could be reminded. The loading screen messages reference moves, so why not include the buttons? I’m always a keen advocate of loading screen messages. They are an excellent and non-intrusive means of providing information to the player that would slow the game down if taught whilst playing. Sitting waiting, even for just 30 seconds or a minute, is quite dull… especially for our modern impatience players who’ve just been in an all action scenario. They should never be essential information as many players might grab themselves a drink, acknowledge the existence of their other half or what not during this time.
The attraction to the game is without doubt when you are moving at speed, hurdling obstacles and flinging yourself across building roof tops. Throw in some stunning visuals and at its peak, the game is brilliant. Unfortunately the slightest error can be very disruptive. For a game that excels when played at full pelt, it is rather harsh and has a very low tolerance for errors.
This can be quite disruptive to the flow of the game. Given that you can’t see your character’s model, it can be a little easy to misjudge things. In particular at high speed, jumps can be make slightly early or you can just clip obstacles. Sometimes it just takes your momentum out, others it kills you. Either way, the moment it lost.
Personally I would have preferred it that unless I put the game on ultra-hard, it smoothed out the ride. Okay I was 10 pixels out with trying to jump onto that ladder, just let me keep going! No one enjoys dying and whilst you want the game to be challenging, those start/stop moments can just ruin the enjoyment of the game. At time’s Mirror’s Edge risks becomes “another platformer” rather than a fast paced, exciting Parkour style game.
The worse time I’ve had playing this was when a scenario involved several actions to perform, such as a few jumps, shimmy, wall jump and 180o jump, all whilst being shot at. Mirror’s Edge does provide a guidance, however this only ever shows the end goal. Often you can make that out for yourself but it is the steps in between. How do I get up there?
Most of the time the guidance is in the world. Excellent use of colour usually has you on your way. However sometimes this isn’t present and unfortunately it sometimes also coincides with enemies in pursuit, armed with guns. There’s no time to try out various techniques, explore the level… just have a quick look, attempt, fail and die. Then repeat. Sometimes it isn’t clear why you failed. Perhaps it was the wrong route? Perhaps you needed a bigger run up for the jump? Try asking for guidance and all you get is “You leave via that door 3 floors above”. Grrr!
A further expansion on the tutorial changes, looking to tackle these situations as well, could be to identify the key difficulty locations in the map and provide controls advice if the player is failing to advance beyond it. If the player is having difficulty, provide either a voice over instruction (“Use the ladder Faith”), text message (Press L1, R1 then L1 to perform 180o Wall Jump) or both.
For example the scenario where the player must perform a 180o wall jump to get out of a room. As the player enters the room they could hit a volume trigger that starts a timer. If it reaches 30-60 seconds, the instruction is provided. Immediately after the obstacle the player passes through another volume trigger that ends the timer.
I quite like the HUD for Mirror’s Edge, or lack of one to be precise. Having no clutter does add to the excitement of trying to flee from gunfire and the urgency as your sprint and leap your way across the rooftops.
Mirror’s Edge is a great game, although due to some clunkiness and at times, a lack of clarity it can bring on the old nerd rage. Infuriating and punishing when you fail, but when at full speed it is a real joy to play.
Completion: Main Story 100%