Still, it represented a new IP, and more importantly a new idea, in a season that was full of sequels you barely even needed to play to know what they were about. It had a fresher look than most games. It had an innovative and intuitive control scheme. And, like its contemporaries Dead Space and Far Cry 2, it had a great take on its lead character's physicality. Mirror's Edge took a lot of chances and stood out in a crowd of predictable franchise entries.
And yet, in my humble opinion, it really, truly, sucked.
I mean, I hated every second I spent with this game, and it's like a six-hour game. There weren't all that many seconds to hate. Intellectually, I appreciated what Mirror's Edge was doing, and that's why I kept booting it up with a sense of optimism -- optimism that was destroyed within minutes of beginning any new play session. On a gut level, I just couldn't stand the game. I swore at it. I stared in disbelief. I came close to re-enacting the control pad stress test on more than one occasion. And lest you think it's just because I was bad at it -- and I was very bad it -- the game was designed in such a way that I couldn't help but blunder my way through it without ever having to master it. It was the worst of both worlds.
As usual, Penny Arcade's Tycho summed it up well:
I have really, honestly, and truly quit Mirror's Edge. At least, I think. Writing this will probably make me feel bad, and then I'll have to go back and pound my head against it until my skull is visible. I just got to a part in the game where I said, no. Nobody is paying me to do this. This is no longer a productive investment of my leisure time. The platforming doesn't even enter into it: if I die because I fell off of some shit, that's on me. And it's not about the combat, either: it's not a matter of how its implemented, or how it could be improved. When I come into a room I need to escape from, and I see a bunch of S.W.A.T. guys, my first thought is, why are they even here? When I see the (frankly, supernatural) trailer for the DLC, my heart skips a beat: that's the game I want. After that campaign, though, I don't want anything to do with Mirror's Edge. They had an excellent, well-manifested game mechanic that probably wouldn't work as a full retail product, and in the drive to shore up that "deficiency" they did violence against their creation.
Sadly, I was being paid to do it, which kept me going longer than I probably would have otherwise. I'm not a big believer that you should stick with a bad game in hopes that it'll get better. Life is short.
What's funny about this is that for all that Mirror's Edge (and, earlier, Dead Space) supposedly represents a "new" EA, what sunk it was its adherence to traditional gameplay paradigms. You're an outlaw. You're on the run. Men with guns are coming after you. Jump onto not one, but two moving trains in order to escape them. It's all boilerplate. I continue to believe that this would have been a far more successful game if it'd been more of a playground, but that's a tougher sell. It had to be an action game if they wanted to make that great commercial. That doesn't sound like a new EA to me.
Wow, what a miserable post. You see what this game has done to me? It's turned me into an asshole.*
*Showed my true colors.