Mirror's Edge PDF Print E-mail
Written by Silver Sorrow   
Sunday, 25 October 2009 21:19
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Mirror's Edge
Is a story really necessary?
Next movement...
It's raining pigs
Look on the bright side...
Now that I've won
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It's Rainin' Pigs...Hallelujah

It stands to reason that suffering is not complete without some form of motivation to get you to panic and make rash decisions. In this case, while running you're often accompanied by incredibly unfriendly fire, courtesy of the CPF (which stands for...um...Civil Protection Fornication?) and other bad guys and such. Although Faith can take a few high-caliber rounds, with no HUD to speak of, don't count on lasting too long against the bacon boys. Sometimes there are snipers, sometimes there are guys with riot guns, and sometimes...sometimes you have to deal with them. You can disarm them (I, with my tangly numb fingers, have a hard enough time getting the movement combos right, let alone remembering how to disarm someone) and use their weapon or toss it away or whatever. I found it easier to just run around them, most of the time. Sometimes you're required to fight -- ha ha ha...JOY. -- which is always fun, if you're a raving lunatic.

Sometimes the pace was a little too frenzied for me, someone who is on way too many antihistamines to be able to puzzle out complex escape plans. "What now??" I'd ask no one in particular, after having (seemingly) exhausted all of my options. Then, after the third or sixteenth reload (either due to missing a critical jump or being surrounded by the oh-so-brave boys in blue and having Faith murdered most horribly), I would see my exit route and get out of the area.

This game has pretty much depleted my self confidence. Have I mentioned that? It has. I am a shell of a jester because of this game. "Why do I even bother to play games?" I wonder. "I suck at everything!"

One of the most delightful (read: eye-gougingly frustrating) aspects of the running game is the timed door conundrum. You perform a series of acrobatics to get to a switch, punch the switch (because Faith seems intent on hitting everything with her fist or her foot...such a hostile young woman!), and then perform a series of acrobatics to the door/giant whirling fanblade/etc. before it can close/start whirling/whatever again. As if the utilize-your-surroundings-while-under-intense-gunfire problem weren't enough...

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So: this is not a game to be played when you're tired or distracted. For example, it took me perhaps ten tries to get through one section in particular, and I only got through the frustration bottleneck (so to speak) by referring to a guide. I try not to spoil anything for myself, but this was driving me beyond bananas into the land of hostile plantains. (See? I'm tired *now*.) The guide said something about breaking through a window...and I asked (plaintively), "Can I do that??" Turns out, I could! And I did...and then Faith met her fate...once again...by failing to wall-run to a far platform, plunging to the floor painfully (hey, it's only, what, three stories; I'll just shrug off the agony of my ankles disintegrating and try that again!), and then was shot to death by cops.

Furthermore, this is a game also not to be played when your stomach feels like something -- such as a rabid wolverine -- is trying to claw its way out. (I have no explanation as to how I came to have a rabid wolverine -- metaphorical or not -- in my stomach; that's not the point of the illustration.) I attempted to get through the subway system while trying to keep the ravening beast inside, and let's just say that it wasn't a pleasant experience. For one thing...okay, let's take a look at the scenario:

Cops chased me into the subway tunnels. I'm playing chicken with trains -- and the trains always win, señor -- just trying to get to a...well, a certain spot, I guess. I don't know where I'm going, I just follow the linear path to get to the next chapter. So I get into the maintenance tunnels and I'm told that there are further tunnels accessible beyond some vertically-spinning Giant Whirling Fan Blades Of Death. "Great," I think, "I've always wanted to change my name to Julienne." The way to do this is YET ANOTHER TIMED PUZZLE, wherein you have to climb a ladder up to a catwalk, jump to a crossbeam above some horizontally-spinning Giant Whirling Fan Blades Of Death. swing over to another catwalk, wall-run to a third catwalk, punch a button (again, Faith is incapable of subtle manual manipulation and must punch the crap out of everything; it makes me nostalgic for Quake, for some reason), then wall-run back to the second catwalk, slide underneath the temporarily-stopped Giant Whirling Fan Blade Of Death, and eventually into a small area. This area is a catwalk above the subway tracks. I notice a door that has curiously-sparking edges--

--back up a moment. It took me quite a few tries even to get to the button, let alone into the fan blade shaft. And I wondered, as I tried the sequence again and again and again, if there was some reason why the shut-off button only stopped the fans for a few seconds. Wouldn't it make more sense, I asked reasonably as I missed my jump again, if the fans shut off completely until the button was pushed again? Certainly,** I reasoned further, such a setup is the mark of purest evil? If the rat-bastard devs wanted to torture me, couldn't they have simply Fed-Exed me a Ziploc baggie full of festering diseased organs with a note falsely claiming that there's a gold nugget hidden inside?
[** While I applaud the brilliance of Airplane!, I curse the writers for making it so that no one could ever use the word "surely" again without some ass-hat saying "Don't call me Surely, dude!" And people wonder why there's so much violence in the world.]

Back to the sparking door. I noted, with some surety, that doors usually don't spark around the edges. "Aha!" I aha'ed, as the rabid wolverine took a short break from shredding my stomach lining, allowing me to formulate a coherent thought, "this means that the cops have almost caught up to me -- ESP being a common thing in law-enforcement, after all! -- and are cutting their way through the door." This also meant that I'd have to find a way...oh, no.

The sadist in my ear told me to jump onto a speeding train below.

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So I suffered through the train sequence that followed a few times. I think it's amazing how Faith can take a chunk of machinery to the face at high speed without being dismembered. It was inevitable that, while dodging obstacles while on top of the train, I'd have to jump to another train -- Faith's frequent (and potentially very messy) deaths not pleasing to the rabid wolverine, who had finished his break -- and dodge random pieces of jutting junk there, too. After six hundred thousand attempts (slight exaggeration), Faith was rewarded with a concrete wall to the face as the train entered a low tunnel, only to be halted halfway through. This didn't bother her so much...I guess the idea was to see the tunnel ahead and run backwards, or something, until the whole clanking dirty mess screeched to a halt. But I didn't see the tunnel, so distracted was I by the wolverine who had broken through my peritoneum and was gnawing its way to my pericardium, that Faith more or less face-planted into the wall and sorta ground it in until the train stopped. She grunted painfully. I snarled, scaring the wolverine, who gnawed faster out of reflex.

And then -- oh, and then!! -- I had to leap from the back of the train and bust my way through one of those oh-so-convenient red doors. Because, I was informed, that there was another train a-comin'! Typical. Of course, the stupid door wouldn't open at first. It finally relented to Faith's brutal caress, but it was all for naught: the train left nothing more of Faith than a bloody smear on the wall and chunks of steaming guts all over the tracks.

It didn't *show* such a thing happening, but such is the curse of an overactive imagination. Even the wolverine threw up. The second attempt, thankfully, worked. I stumbled through the level exit, and was congratulated by Merc in my ear, who told me I did a good job. My real-world reply was and will forever remain unprintable.

 

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As bad as this was, I had no idea of the colossal crapfest this game would have in store for me later on. In particular, the very last chapter, featuring a delightful dance across the rooftops where several snipers wait to turn Faith into swiss cheese should she make one misstep. Yay! Are we having fun? Because I thought we'd be having fun by now...

Anyway, the final sequence of events following this lighthearted traipse across the rooftops was actually eminently playable. I was pleasantly surprised, as I expected some satanically-difficult ordeal that I would have to attempt a kazillion times. I guess others less-FPS-oriented in their gaming makeup would find the penultimate fight difficult, but I'm far more comfortable with firepower at my disposal. Slowly squeeze the trigger. Feel the power.

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