Friday, March 1, 2013

Catching up and video game talk: Mirrors Edge

I have apologize for the lack of updates on here lately. I've been kinda busy with job hunting and writing the novel and a short story, life stuff and, well, I've just had a general lack of ideas of what to actually blog about. I know everyone gets like this all the time and its really nothing to be ashamed of, but it has been over two months since the last post so, yeah, sorry. I am gonna try and start doing this regularly, I have to find the groove for it again. And that isn't always as easy as it sounds. Anyway, on a brighter note, I've recently joined hubpages to try and earn some extra cash, lord knows I need it. If anyone is a member there, then feel free to share your experience in the comments. I'll post links to the page as soon as I can set up the payment information on there.

Anyway, since this is my first post in a while and I'm still kinda struggling to find better topics to write about, I decided to give myself a break and just talk about something I really enjoy for a few minutes. And yes, that means video games, more specifically, this video game:

To put it plainly, Mirror's Edge is probably the most orginal game to come out of a mainstream publisher in years in my opinion. It's a first person action game developed by Dice, a subsidiary of the evil gaming empire of mediocrity known as Electronic Arts. So when I first heard about this back in 2007 I thought it was going to suck...and then it came out.

The story here is set in an unnamed dystopian city where crime is basically dead and people live carefree lives...but since we all know that disneyesque utopias are boring and don't exist in reality: this city is basically a totalitarian state where all forms of communication and media are controlled and monitored by the government. This is were people known as "Runners" (couriers basically) come in. They run through the rooftops passing along information and messages, dodging the police like this was opening scene from The Matrix. You play as Faith, a Runner who is trying to save her sister who was framed for the murder of a government official. Faith's mission is uncover the real killer and unmask a conspiracy that could affect the entire city.
Its a fairly passable plot, its just too bad that it feels very claustrophobic. The problem here isn't that the story is bad per-say, the problem is that it doesn't give itself enough room to really flesh out and develop itself. There's very little back story as to how the city got to the state its in, save for a quick monologue by Faith in the beginning and some subsequent flashbacks to Faith's childhood in some cut scenes. As a result, the characters are kinda underdeveloped. With the exception of Faith but even that being generous. Despite that though, I found myself caring about what happens to these people. Its kinda like some sadistic corporate monkey dangling a bar of gold from a string above your head and every time you get close to it he pulls it out of your reach. You don't want to keep trying but you can't help it. Its kinda like that for me, especially when it comes to Faith. She's easily the best character in the game in my opinion.

To be honest, Faith is one of the initial reasons I bought this thing to begin with. And not for the reasons you might think. Ya see, from a visual standpoint anyway, when Mirrors Edge came out (and even now to some extent), Video game developers idea of a "Strong Woman," was, as a whole, a girl with an unrealistically huge chest that she flaunts with skimpy or otherwise very reveling or clingy clothes and her personality is more or less a bad attitude that is calmed (and rescued) by a man. This basically:
the kind of  slutty thing that only growing boys dream about.
Then there's  Faith:

no big chest, no slutty clothes, no bad attitude. Hell, she's pretty much an ordinary athletic woman. And her personality is refreshing. She's strong, but shes not bitch, she can hold her own and take anything that comes at her but she's not an unfeeling robot. In other words she's realistic in just about every sense of the word, even if her character is slightly underdeveloped. Now I'm not saying that characters like Faith don't exist in video games, I know for a fact that they do, but I'm saying that she's part of rare breed of video game heroine where her defining feature isn't her sexuality or some strange need to be a man.

But anyway, despite the flaws of the story, what really holds Mirror's Edge together is the gameplay (an example of which is on the left). At its core, Mirrors Edge is an action/adventure platforming game with running, jumping, wall climbing, wall running and reaching the next platform without falling to your death. But unlike other games with that label  its done from a first person perspective. Similar to games like Call of Duty. In other words: "What if Prince of Persia: Sands of Time was in first person?" Unlike the Prince though, a lot of what you can do will depend on your momentum. Like reaching a ledge for example or knocking your enemy out faster. Its an interesting mechanic, one that can leave you frustrated, but it when it works its pretty awesome. Speaking of combat, that's one of the games weaker points. Most of the time your running over obstacles and rooftops, looking for objects that are highlighted red to help you navigate from point "A" to point "B." But there are other times when you have to fight. You can do this by either knocking the enemy out with melee attacks (martial arts basically) or you can disarm the cop, take his weapon and shoot him. Thankfully there's a button that will let you slow time momentarily that helps you do that. After you take the weapon, you can hold onto it and use it until it runs out of ammo, at which point you have to drop it and run. And in moments like those it feels like a first person shooter. And that's is where a lot of criticism was leveled at this game. The shooting aspects were poor when compared to other shooters, there was no strafing for one thing and aiming the gun was a kind of a pain. But I think that what people failed to realize is that shooting things isn't what Mirror's Edge is about. Like I said, its a platformer, one that encourages you to use your noggin to navigate and to out flank and out run your enemy. I can personally attest that if you try to stay and fight them off then your most likely going to die. The controls are ok, a little stiff but its gets the job done. There are also a lot of buttons you have to press and that can get a really confusing until you get used to it. And when you do, the game really sings.

In closing, despite its flaws, this game is definitely worth checking out, And since its a few years old you can get it for pretty cheep, in someplaces for less than $20. You can find it or download it on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and on the PC. They also made a third-person version of it for mobile devices, but I haven't played it so I can't comment on it.

And i'm out.    


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