Mirror's Edge BoxWhenever the discussion with friends, family, gaming buddies or indeed, anyone who will listen, turns to “Underrated Games” I always immediately interject with “Mirror’s Edge”.

I am most often met with a mixture of confusion, blank looks and sometimes a knowing nod of approval.

Mirror’s Edge is one of those games that falls into a particularly rare category of the “Underrated Games” species, it is a game which many may not have played, but every single person who has, always agrees it is a superb experience to be highly recommended.

Anyway, enough “anecdotal evidence”, let’s crack on with a proper look at why this situation is the case.Before I launch into an impassioned description of the exhilarating game-play, fantastic soundtrack and superbly realised futurist setting I think it is useful to briefly touch on some of the players involved in creating this unheralded masterpiece. Firstly this is an EA game, which already confirms it is a “serious game”, from the world’s biggest games company. Secondly it was developed by DICE, the team behind the exceptional and long running Battlefield series. The game’s writer is none other than Terry Prattchet’s daughter Rhianna and music is contributed by Magnus Birgersso (aka Solar Fields), a leading ambient composer / DJ. So.

OK, so it was put together by people who know what they are doing, who have pedigree.

Now what about this end product they created, what is it about? What makes it unique? How does it “feel”?

Well, in the case of Mirror’s Edge it is particularly difficult to describe how it feels, as this is it’s biggest and clearest, unique selling point, but also by it’s nature the hardest to condense into text.

Mirror's Edge Screenshot 1

How does it feel? Awesome! That's how…

At it’s core the experience is about freedom of movement, but, importantly, constrained in a “realistic” envelope, you can easy leap between buildings… but only if they are not too far apart. You can effortlessly vault walls… if they are not too tall, and you can walk perilously thin pipes… if you can keep your balance.

If you have ever watched a parkour / free-running documentary and thought “wow, that looks awesome, pity I’ll never be able to do that…” well regret no more, because Mirror’s Edge is here to let you do that, and some much more…

Now this is a bold claim, but let me guarantee to you that this title not only delivers, but does so sweetly and smoothly. In fact so much so that it actually brings into question the cumbersome movement engines featured in every other game. Let me also confirm that no other game has come close to delivering, as Mirror’s Edge does, on this fluid-movement promise. Many say Brink does, but to compare the two is to liken ME’s graceful glide to Brink’s clumsy stumble. Playing Mirror’s Edge will provide you not only with exhilarating enjoyment, but also with THE leading example on how movement COULD be delivered in games if anyone could actually replicate the beauty, simplicity and power of ME’s engine.

Mirror's Edge Screenshot 2

So simple, yet so heart-stopping… classic design…

So, we’ve established that movement is the killer selling point of Mirror’s Edge, but do not for a moment presume that is the only thing on offer.

In addition to it’s high adrenaline ballet, it also provides a unique and refreshing perspective on a clinically dystopian future, with a clarity of architectural minimalism that honestly rivals Blade Runner’s opposite, chaotic / gritty approach for sheer consistency, believability and impact.

Add to that the excellent score and tight, focused narrative and you are onto a winner across the board.

Yes, there are a limited number of “shooter” type situations but it is quite easy, and indeed recommended, to play through the entire game without ever using a gun. This game is about being, swifter, cleverer and more agile than those with guns, not about out-gunning them. This is a refreshing approach in and of itself and one that add elegance and tension to an already excellent feel.

But Mirror’s Edge has one more trick up it’s sleeve, one more devastating vault in it’s arsenal of hurdle jumping weapons. It actually is, truly and intensely, heart pumpingly exciting.

How does it manage to deliver this so much better than many other leading games? Well it’s because it primarily offers something which is lacking from other titles; fear. Not common-o-garden “Oh no I’m going to get shot unless I shoot them first, and then wait to respawn for 10 seconds” fear or “Oh dear what a big alien monster that is” fear but a far more visceral form of fear; very simply…  “I must escape”.

Mirror's Edge Screenshot 3

Escape! But to where and how!

This sense of jeopardy is all the more potent as you know you are never more than one error away from certain death, be that delivered by the up-rushing ground when you misstep that leap, or by a single gunshot to your unarmoured self.

The only other game I can recall having this form of effect is “Amnesia: The Dark Descent”. This is gaming gold-dust.

And combining all these top quality elements into one experience is the stuff of legend, and Mirror’s Edge is 100% that, it should be up there with the like of Prince of Persia (’89), System Shock 2, Quake 2, Shadow of The Colossus, Half-Life 2 etc as being a game changing… erm… well… game, in how it delivers your experience of controlling a character. I emplore you, dear reader, help make Mirror’s Edge “required reading” for gamers, and the world will definitely be a better place… I promise!

– Richard “Rax” Burley

P.S. I don’t normally like doing this, but with Mirror’s Edge, a video really can speak a thousand additional words!