Mirror’s Edge in Review – Run, Faith, run!

Last autumn, a game so deceptively simple took the App Store by storm. I’m talking, of course, about Canabalt – the one button game where you control a guy fleeing for his life across the tops of buildings in the midst of an alien attack. One year and big publisher later, enter Mirror’s Edge, a title that takes the same basic concept to a whole new dimension. It had a long and winding road to the iPhone, debuting as one of the first major iPad games nearly 6 months ago.

Mirror’s Edge is a sidescrolling action game where you have to control a runner  and reach the end of the level as fast as possible. In the not-so-far future, information is not as freely available as we would hope. The government controls, checks and censors all data transmitted in the networks, making anyone valuing privacy to have to resort to good old-fashioned couriers to transfer data safely and privately. These services quickly led to the formation of an elite group of “Runners”, the last place to turn to for privacy in the world of “Big Brother Watching”.

Mirror’s Edge is the essence of speed and dexterity on the iPhone. You control Faith as she zips through the levels running, jumping, climbing walls, sliding down buildings and kicking down enemies. The levels come in two main varieties – the indoor and outdoor ones. The latter take the essence pioneered by Canabalt and brings it into the 21st century. In addition to the jumping action you will have to manage your landings carefully, slide under obstacles, climb and even run on walls. The indoors levels are a bit more focused on getting down to the bottom, incapacitating or avoiding police officers and rival runners. All this across 14 levels, which end far too quickly. To extend the gameplay, special packages are hidden around the levels and an additional speed run mode is unlocked after the main campaign is complete. But still, I missed a full blown endless mode that would really put Mirror’s Edge over the top for me.

Controlling Faith is a dream. Thanks to the clever usage of the iPhone’s touch capabilities nothing so crude as a D-pad or buttons obscure the interface. Instead everything is done using carefully timed swipes across the screen. Left and right control direction, up for jumping and down for sliding. Additionally if you travel across special hotspots, you can trigger additional actions, like swiping up on an orange wall to run across it. And if you come across a sliding surface or a wire you can gain additional speed by tilting your iDevice to get the least wind-resistance. Finally, for all those pesky police officers seeking to hinder your progress, you can do a flying kick or a slide to knock them down. You can even disarm them altogether if you’re up for a timely swipe.

Visually Mirror’s Edge is even better. The game takes full advantage of the iPhone 4’s Retina display, providing for a gorgeous picture, some of the best I’ve seen on the iDevice. And it amazes me that it works without a hitch on such a meager device as a mobile phone. The picture is crisp and rich in colours, allowing you to fully plunge into the atmosphere of the game.

Mirror’s Edge from now on is one of the hallmarks of the App Store and my iPhone 4 in particular. It brings the essence of speed and freedom to the iPhone in a way no other game could. Controlling Faith in her sprint across the futuristic metropolis is probably one of the most addictive and fun experiences I’ve ever had on my Jesus phone. The only problem is that it ends far too quickly. The packages and Speed Run mode helps a bit — giving some incentive to return to the game — but a random endless mode, at least for the rooftop levels, would be more than welcome.

With this I declare Mirror’s Edge officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Mirror’s Edge™Developer: Electronic Arts
Reviewed Ver:1.4.73Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$4.99App Size:100.10MB
  • Superb graphics with Retina support
  • Polished controls with no UI to clutter up the screen
  • Addictive gameplay with additional modes for limited replayability
  • Ends far too quickly
  • No assessing of level performance apart from # of packages found or level time
  • No endless mode

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