Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mirror's Edge Demo: Too short, man... too short....

So, I had a quick play of the Mirror's Edge demo. Just as things started to flow, the demo ended. Although the demo had an overall feel of polish and a nice arc from start to finish, I can't help but feel that it missed a real opportunity to sell me on the game.

The visual style is unique and refreshing. The controls feel a little wonky to start with (LB and LT as your primary controls) but might end up working. The problem is that I only had a very short tutorial and then a quick linear mission. This game begs for freestyling yet there was no sandbox opportunity for me to just play around in.

As far as visceral feel goes, the game hovers between good and great. I'd need to replay the demo and pay more attention to the sound, vibration, and camera movement to break it down in greater detail, but my initial thoughts are:
  • The first person feel kind of works (I didn't expect it to at all). That said, there should be opportunities for me to watch myself do cool things -- especially when I'm essentially waiting for a long animation to play (like hauling myself up a ledge or hurtling through the air or rolling on the ground). Maybe it would be disorienting, but I'd like to at least see what something like this would be like. I'd really like to admire my character as I get to do in games like God of War and Tomb Raider.
  • The "door crash" sequence is pretty good. I'd heard about this from a review. I think it could be sweetened a bit more in terms of sound/shake/vibrate, but it's pretty sweet.
  • I wonder whether I'll ever like combat in this game. It makes me think of Assassin's Creed. Not in terms of the combat system, but in terms of how combat just seems so lame in comparison to exploring rooftops in over-the-top parkour game play.
This game provides a really interesting contrast to Tomb Raider: Underworld (I'll be posting about that demo next) in terms of world navigation. Mirror's Edge uses bold saturated non-realistic colors, specifically red, to indicate where to go next. Tomb Raider sacrifices a bit of the "where do I go next" for environmental realism. This makes sense given the emphasis on quick athletic running in the former and slower methodical exploration in the latter.

In the end, I really want to like Mirror's Edge. What I hope is that the retail version is well paced and that combat isn't too painful. If the demo had wowed me, I might have considered buying it. But for now, especially given my current backlog of games, it's a rental.

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