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Mirror's Edge (Xbox 360)

Rated: 16+.

Story: In a city of the near future where Big Brother has taken control, you are Faith, a courier who carries illicit information for her clients, sprinting over rooftops to evade the authorities.

Then your sister gets framed for murder and it's up to you to discover what's going on.

This involves much jumping, somersaulting and falling great heights to your doom. Again and again and again and again...

Gameplay: Mirror's Edge is a first-person adventure/platformer. You see through Faith's eyes as you try to navigate your way between skyscrapers. Things to jump off or hurdle are shaded red as you approach to make them obvious against the stark white of much of the landscape. You can slide under obstacles, wall-run, barge through doors, shimmy up drainpipes and generally leap about in an insane kind of fashion.

Rather frequently, cops get in the way and you can disarm them, give them a kicking or take their guns and shoot at them. Well, you can on the rare occasions when they come at you one at a time. Most often, you have to run away before a group of them gun you down in a rather heavy-handed fashion.

Save System: Autosaved checkpoints at erratic intervals.

Comments: When it works, this game is great. Vaulting a crate, sprinting across a plank over a sheer drop, sliding under some pipes, hurling yourself over a chasm and then somersaulting to land running and barge through a door in one flowing series of movements is hugely exhilarating.

Sadly, this seldom actually happens, since it's all too easy to misjudge things and slam into an obstacle, losing momentum, or simply fluff it completely and plummet, screaming, into the depths. This is no fun. Frequently it's not even fair. The game punishes small errors in timing and aim with instant death and then sends you back rather further than you'd like. To encourage a fast pace, cops chase you everywhere. By Level 3, they have a helicopter gunship. This makes much of the game a panicked run through an obstacle course without clear direction markers. This usually leads to hitting a dead end and getting shot, or falling from a great height. It's not fun.

To make matters worse, much of the game takes place inside, turning it into a first-person Tomb Raider as you try to climb and shimmy your way around in buildings full of near-invisible glass partitions and non-functional doors. This isn't much fun either. Then the cops turn up and shoot you. This is less fun.

Oh, and playing the game up-close on a monitor, I got motion-sickness from a videogame for the first time since the days of Nintendo 64 blur-o-vision. Unsurprisingly, this wasn't much fun.

Annoyingly, Mirror's Edge has very high production values, innovative ideas and flashes of brilliance. It just doesn't play to its strengths. The adventuring and combat and plot all seem to detract from the basic thrill of dashing through the sky-line. Weirdly, it might have worked better as a racing game.

Conclusion: Thrills and frustration in equal measure.

Graphics: Very good. The crisp, white vistas are breath-taking. Some of the interiors are a little dark in contrast, though.

Length: Short.

Rating: 3/5.


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