DICE managed to both shock and delight when it announced the existence of the original Mirror’s Edge. Coupling a first person perspective with a platformer seemed liked the realm of an indie title. In actual fact, several indie developers had taken a stab at the premise but fallen short.
The game had a few niggles and became a real love/hate title for many. For me it was love at first sight. The gorgeous art style, the primary colours and minimalistic architecture all made it so appealing. Faith was a great stab at a reasonable female game lead that was not reliant on gimmicks, skimpy underwear or breasts. So I eyed the release on iPhone sceptically.
In Faith’s world, the most precious commodity is information – specifically freedom of information. You see, all is not well in the land and the crisp white dystopia city is soon revealed to be in the vice-like grip of a totalitarian government regime.
Faith and her fellow “runners” offer a service to people that need to transfer information across the city outside of the government’s control. They traverse the rooftops of the city taking data packs from place to place. This doesn’t sit well with the local authorities who try to take them down at every opportunity.
OK, so the story that backs Mirror’s Edge remains the same but something major has changed – the perspective. Gone is the first person view of the console big brother. In its place is the pseudo 3D side scroller of your average high-end Nintendo DS title.
What Mirror’s Edge for iPhone actually does is distill what made the large console versions so great – ie the Free Running elements – and puts them in to a handy portable package. To be honest, I’m very grateful that EA did not try and make this game first person on the iPhone.
One of the biggest bug-bears of any action title on Apple’s devices are the controls. Having to put your fingers all over a screen that you need to see every inch of is a real nightmare for UI designers, but EA seems to have pulled this off exceptionally well with Mirror’s Edge.
To move Faith you simply swipe in the direction you want her to run. Once in motion, you can swipe down for her to slide and go under objects. A simple up swipe then puts her back on her feet and she loses very little momentum. Likewise you can swipe up and she will perform a leap allowing you to hurdle objects, mantle obstacles or wall climb. As with titles like Canabalt and Monster Dash, the game is about building up and maintaining momentum.
Surely the feisty officers of Faith’s world won’t take this building leaping shenanigans lying down? Damn right they won’t! You see, the local police really want to take Faith down and they will pole-axe her if she runs past them. Try to avoid them and said police officers will attempt to take you down with a few well placed pistol rounds. As Faith is unarmed and has no armour she gets taken out of the game pretty quickly. Luckily, to overcome these down points Faith can perform a number of offensive moves.
Whilst running toward an assailant, simply swipe downward when an enemy is near and it will start Faith sliding as per usual, only this time the camera zooms in slightly and the action slows down. The guard is taken off his feet and dumped flat out on the floor. Faith can then stand up and proceed on her way losing little or no momentum.
Feeling a little more malevolent or is your attacker hiding behind a crate? Never fear, just swipe up to start her jumping followed by the direction you are moving. With this, Faith performs a wonderfully brutal flying kick which takes her subject off their feet.
Luckily whilst you are performing all these acrobatics you can enjoy the gorgeous animation work. Faith moves incredibly well with fluid, silky smooth animations throughout. The overall look has been taken from the original game with lots of primary colours and stark minimalist construction. When Faith is at full speed and is fluidly hurdling crates, ducking pipes and taking down guards, the game is beautiful to watch. The game also has a myriad of challenges and puzzle like sections to overcome.
Once you have finished with the primary story missions, which won’t take you too long, you can dedicate your time to the super fun Speed Run mode. Here, as in the console forerunners, you take on levels unlocked in the story mode and attempt to complete them in a certain time limit. You will be given a sliding scale to try and achieve from one to three stars. Trying to beat these times is challenge enough, but throw in the fact that you can upload your times to Facebook and it becomes a whole new level of competitive play.
After spending several hours with the title I have to admit that Mirror’s Edge for the iPhone is a superb portable title. The levels are short enough that you can fit them in to a bus or train ride, yet long enough that you feel satisfied by completion. The Speed Run mode is great fun and will add hours to the games life. Sure, this is not as innovative as the original Mirror’s Edge. What it is, though, is a superb iPhone title that I heartily recommend you check out sooner rather than later.
Game Limit gives Mirror’s Edge (iPhone) an 8/10