If there's a part of the game that's likely to divide opinion it's the combat. Although developed by FPS veterans DICE, gun combat in Mirror's Edge isn't good. On the small number of occasions we felt it necessary to pick up and use a gun, things felt awkward, almost as if Faith herself wasn't comfortable using guns as a way to tackle enemies. Gameplay flaw or deliberate design choice, it works in that it fits in with the rest of the game. You'll focus on either ignoring enemies completely or use Faith's close-quarters combat. Disarms are key to taking out enemies, with a single button press at the correct time snatching a weapon and downing the enemy, but the system isn't perfect.
RT/mouse 1 is used for all combat in the game, with a press while on the floor performing a punch, a flying kick while in the air and a ground kick while sliding. You can even combine a wall run with a flying kick and link moves together, but there's one flaw that will irk some a lot more than others. A successful attack will often stun an enemy for a few seconds, but during this time Faith can't disarm them. Despite the enemy being out of action for that time, it's impossible to disarm until he's back up and starting an attack animation. It's something you can live with, but better combat is a must in the sequel. The best encounters occur when Faith is faced with more agile enemies, able to scale buildings and follow her in ways standard cops can't. Here you'll have to make the most of your newly learnt skills and the chase gameplay is about the best the game has to offer.
While Faith is mainly running about on rooftops and inside office complexes, you get more than enough variety thrown in. One area is set inside a massive underground storm drain, another sees her jumping onto a train before leaping from one to another. It's thrilling stuff, and never lets up. An argument could be put forward that the end is a little cheap (snipers aren't the best enemy to come across when your main form of attack is up close and personal), but every section has a solution, no matter how tricky (or impossible) it may seem for those moments where Faith repeatedly eats dirt. At times you'll moan about her slow bar shuffling and ledge walking speed and the way enemies can spot you from quite a distance, but these are really only slight niggles in an otherwise expertly made game.
The modes that elevate Mirror's Edge from good to great are speed run and time trial. Speed run is, as you'd expect, playing through the main campaign levels as quickly as possible. It's the enemy free time trial levels that have the potential to keep you hooked though. It's here that the game's route variety shines through and your quality is shamed. By the end of the game we felt we were pretty good, but our first time on the initial time trial stage showed just what can be done. Our one star time was a good 45 seconds off what was needed for three stars. With downloadable ghosts and online leaderboards, you could be playing this for a long, long time.
No game we've played in the last year comes close to matching the clinically clean style seen in Mirror's Edge. The outdoor sections are bathed in glorious light and the city stretches far into the distance, whereas the indoor sections are brilliantly designed and capture the tone of the story perfectly. If you've been waiting for the PC release hoping it would better the two console versions released last year, you're in luck, as it does. Numerous PhysX accelerated physics objects and effects add to an already stunning looking game, such as moving sheets of plastic and low-lying fog, making the world that little bit more believable. Of course, the game was designed to be played using a controller's shoulder buttons, so unless you've got a 360 pad (or similar) we'd recommend you pick one up - even customised PC controls don't feel as good as the brilliantly simple pad controls.
There are times in Mirror's Edge when you'll be frustrated, replaying a section for the umpteenth time with no solution in sight, but persevere; Faith always has a way out - you just have to find it. Combine a thoroughly entertaining single-player campaign with a stunning and challenging time trial mode and you'll soon forget that you managed to run through the story in six hours or less. There's depth here that you'll only discover hours into time trialling a single stage, and as we said, no other game in recent memory comes close to being as cool. We can't wait to see what Faith gets up to next.
VideoGamer.com Score9 Score out of 10
- Gorgeous visuals
- Superb soundtrack
- High energy action platforming
- Too much trial and error for some