Review: Mirror’s Edge (iPhone)

After a long wait for iPhone gamers, Mirror’s Edge has come to the device with the promise – or at least hope – of setting right the wrongs of its console brethren. Those being a poor implementation of combat and a number of claustrophobic levels stifling heroine Faith’s energy. So has the iPhone game succeeded? No. But the first half did feel quite special.

Faith, one of a few guerilla activists in a stark and repressed city, is a runner delivering important information and propaganda for her cause. To avoid detection she runs along rooftops, leaping from scaffolding to billboards to cranes all by the simple flick of your finger. Slide up and she jumps and climbs over objects, down makes her slide and a flick from left or right starts her running in that direction. To me, Mirror’s Edge is about speed and an effortless traversal of levels and here on the iPhone I got that sense of fluidity from these controls. I was grinning like a child with a sizeable lolly pop as Faith moved so satisfactory in the visually pleasing world. Colour coding helped keep the pace highlighting red objects to either jump over or slide beneath and orange billboards that Faith could wall-run across. It was a joy to play.

But then came the indoor areas. And the combat. Enclosing a character who’s best at leaping great distances and evoking a super heroic quality in levels that have low ceilings is utter madness. There was still a good feeling of speed when she ran from left to right and vice versa but too many places for her to be annoyingly slowed down or worse, come to a sudden stop. Guards and the occasional rogue runner usually popped up in these levels too adding insult to injury. To fight, again a simple flick was in order; towards a character would disarm them, down would make Faith slide and kick their legs away but jumping and a swipe in their direction made her do a kind of flying kick. To help with you chose, the game went into temporary slo-mo giving time to select what you feel is best. Great to begin with but not so often that again my experience of speed was hampered. If you mess up don’t expect sympathy either because these guards are armed and will gun down Faith if she lingers too long.

Any form of story is interlaced between levels when they load in a scrolling block of text, distorted for perspective like the start of Star Wars films. It was hard to read and no doubt left over from when Mirror’s Edge was on the iPad. I skipped most of them and didn’t feel as if I was necessarily missing out because the fun of Mirror’s Edge comes from running not reading.

Like the rooftop terrain where much of Mirror’s Edge for the iPhone is set, EA’s port of the console version comes with considerable highs and disruptive lows. There’s a unmatched quality about its controls for the most part but the game suffers in the tighter indoor levels and becomes a nuisance if you happen to slip up in combat. But most troubling of all is the length. For a £2.99 iPhone game, I would have expected it to last longer than an hour and if not, be an hour of pure enjoyment. It does have a speed run option and you can replay the levels if you so wish but it definitely won’t be all of them. Mirror’s Edge is good but could have been great, hell, it could have been brilliant and certainly started that way but didn’t quite finish with the same sense of satisfaction.

Verdict:
Good
Entertaining and worthy of your time but still room for improvement.

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