Time Played: ~30min
Honestly, I could only bear to play Mirror's Edge for about 30min before I stopped - half in tears for how disappointed and frustrated I felt (I know, it's suuuper melodramatic). It didn't help that I was sick at the time, and not feeling particularly inclined to challenge myself - but this game was not at all what I was expected it to be. Look at the art! I naively expected to experience this wonderful sense of freedom! Think about parkour - the whole point is to see the world with the sense that you can get anywhere if you can just figure out how. Instead, the game opens to an incredibly tedious tutorial that asks you to remember sooo many buttons (most of which I immediately forgot), which contrasts terribly with the sleek, clean aesthetic. Then of course comes the combat section of the tutorial, which is mostly just silly. When I finally started playing, only a few moments into trying to get the hang of it, the annoyed radio commentary of my dispatcher began, telling me that I was "taking too long" - oh, and now I was being shot at.
Maybe the problem is my own? It's no secret that I simply don't possess the same first-person game literacy as most people that play games often - but I was really shocked at how much of a difference it made in this particular game. I needed to be quickly making decisions about how to get where I needed to go (or really, there was no time limit at first - just someone yelling at me), and suddenly I really felt how limiting first person actually feels. I think it was Andy Schatz during the Takedown Tribunal panel at PAX last weekend that said that first person felt "like looking through a porthole" and that's really what I was noticing for the first time in this game (particularly since most first person games make me motion sick, so I don't have a lot of experience playing them). I felt like I just couldn't see anything.
Anyway, I stopped playing somewhere after the second confrontation with armed guards, where I couldn't simply run away from them. :)
What I Liked:
The aesthetic. Really this is the reason this game has been on my 'to play' list for so long. It just looks really awesome, and inviting - like "you will feel free and wonderful in this environment."
Parkour. Since I'm someone that worked as an animator for almost 5 years, it shouldn't be too surprising to hear that I'm generally pretty fascinated by what the human body is capable of. I think dance is fascinating, I could watch breakdancing clips on youtube for hours, and I have definitely watched my fair share of parkour videos. I think it's amazing and inspiring to see what people can do - and realize that if I put in the time and effort, maybe I could do those amazing things too. I was excited to see a game that tried to do something with that - but because the game is first person anyway, you completely lose all sense of excitement about what your character is physically doing, which is really disappointing. That being said, it's still on my positive list that they were at least also inspired by something interesting like parkour... maybe it shouldn't be on my positive list. :)
Non-violence? The way people talk about this game, they make it sound totally revolutionary that you can get an achievement for never using a weapon.... I like the idea of non-violence, and I guess you can say that this games succeeds at being less violent than a lot of other games.... But I was surprised at how fast I was thrust into situations where the optimal path was punching a guy in the face.
I guess it's sort of cool that Faith is a girl... but also I never see her and I don't really care. It's not like she's this well-written, strong character (maybe she develops more of a personality later, and I just didn't get that far?)
What I Didn't Like:
I think I covered it all already. It's hard to see, there are too many buttons to remember, you feel pressured all of the time (despite the beautiful, open aesthetic), you get shot at before you get a chance to learn anything, you're still encouraged to beat people up, etc...
I don't think I will, thanks.
Mirror's Edge iOS
I also checked out the iOS game. It's not bad, and considerably less frustrating than the main game, but overall it's nothing special and got boring pretty quick. Your primary control is swiping, which is handled pretty well in most cases and works well. It's very similar to most endless runners (even though it's not endless) - you start Faith running, and then jump over and slide under obstacles, as well as knocking out guards and running laterally across some billboards. It's an ok way to spend a little bit of time. I put about 30min into it and haven't picked it up since.