There’s been a bit of a tiny dust storm brewing over the release and critical reaction to EA/DICE’s Mirror’s Edge over whether reviewers cursed the darkness rather than light a candle over the things the game did right. Over at Tom Armitage’s Infovore site, he’s written his own very smartly considered reaction to just what Edge does do right, and how that rightness can manifest itself in feeling let down — though not the game letting you down, but you letting down the character you inhabit. Says Tom:
Mirror’s Edge is at its best in moments of free exploration, finding new paths over serene rooftops, feeling that sense of flow as you tuck your feet over a barbed-wire fence; when it captures the feeling of a body moving, be it through graceful falls or being violently hurled off a building by a former wrestler; feeling like you’re flying across the city.
It’s at its worst when, unlike on the rooftops and in the stormdrains, it places obstacles in its path – narrative, out-of-engine cutscenes, action-through-havoc that you can’t escape.
And especially when it makes you fail: Faith is clearly an experienced runner, and there are times where the player can’t live up to their avatar’s abilities. DICE choose to present that in binary success or failure, which has lead to criticisms of trial and error. Perhaps; at the same time, I’ve never encountered a single glitch or unrealistic motion throughout all my travels through the game. The coherence of the illusion is remarkable, and the price for that coherence is a definite kind of failure at times. I am not sure that’s necessarily a good enough excuse for some of the stop-start, but I feel that the coherence of the game’s illusion is something that isn’t praised enough. If only that could be provided without such a sensation of failing – not as a player, but failing the character you play.