So, this week my blog reviews return. This time I tackle everyone's favorite free running hottie and the game everyone loves to hate. Enjoy.
Mirror’s Edge is game I really wanted to like from the very first time I saw it. I’m a huge sucker for games that try new things or adapt certain mechanics for unconventional means. A first-person action platformer, a genre traditionally reserved for third person games (and arguably rarely done well anymore), is one such type of mechanic/perspective switch that interests me to no end by default. Luckily the game didn’t disappoint me in the grand scheme of things.
The key to ME (fuck yeah I abbreviate shit) working for me was always going to be the controls and the fluidity of the action. I feel the results were sort of mixed. The controls on one hand were as simple as pie to wrap my head around. They became second nature within an hour or so. However, the actual game’s fluidity was archaic at best.
Too bad you can't actually do that.
I do believe part of the reason I had trouble adapting to what the game requires is because we rarely, if ever, have played a game with such open mechanics. You can jump off, run across, boost over, etc. over almost anything in the game. That’s new. Getting my brain to think outside the box in terms of what the game would allow me to do was a big step. I was often stuck places because I didn’t always realize I should even consider some crazy run-jump-swing combo, which is admittedly more my fault than the game’s fault. However, this fell apart after I made the mental leap and did begin to think more acrobatically (so to speak) when I would be slapped in the face with a maneuver that the game would let me do. Wait, I can run up the side of buildings and leap and bound like a gazelle but I can’t jump over that shrub? Or box? Huh? It pretty much made me hope DICE gets another chance to try and marry the controls and play style to a more polished sequel with an even more robust list of moves available.
The story was meh but should have been much longer. The in-game graphics were awesome. The cut scenes wanted to be an Esurance commercial but couldn’t if they tried. I’m not a huge fan of racing games and an even lesser fan of time trials in games, so the “additional” game modes were not very thrilling to me in the slightest. I played a few until I realized I could spend my time better elsewhere.
Quick ass review score: 7/10
Too Human is a game I have followed through all of its development announcements and eventual woes. I am a huge fan of ancient mythology, with Egyptian and Norse being my two favorites. Getting a Norse-themed game drenched in futuristic technology was just too much for me to handle. I was steadily a giddy schoolgirl every time a new announcement was made. Then Denis Dyack decided to be a douche and ruin any hope the public had of giving the game a fair shake. I held out on passing judgment until I played the game myself and I’m glad I didn’t buy into the hype because, despite Too Human wasn’t the epic RPG experience Dyack and company claimed, it was a fun hack ‘n slash adventure with some gameplay quirks that were worth looking past.
The control and camera system are the two things people will be torn between loving and hating while playing the game. The attack controls were pretty much all mapped to the right analog stick, which is usually reserved for camera controls (more on that in a minute). The idea was that moving the stick in a direction would let you attack enemies in that direction and it worked pretty effectively. After a few hours I learned that some finesse with holding and flicking the stick allowed for more powerful combos. Laying waste to an entire mob of goblins never got old (although the goblin designs did) and I had fun throughout.
Speaking of fun, when I played I was REALLY in the mood for a hack ‘n slash game where I could level up and equip crazy weapons and armor and lay waste to goons. TH delivered that experience in spades. I ran around with giant hammers and swords, whippin’ out pistols and laser rifles, slaying countless enemies. The augmentation of weapons and armors could have been more fluid, but I got a hang of it an hour or so in, so it didn’t prove too big of an issue by the end.
The camera really wanted to be cinematic but often failed. For a game that tried to be so epic in scope, you were often fighting in close cramped quarters and the camera took a shit on you in the middle of a battle more often than not, which was sad to say the least. Having to press two buttons to manually move the camera was just not acceptable in the heat of battle.
And how heated the battles got! Often times I would run into a room and simply get slaughtered. Enemies would attack you while down (or standing back up) and barrage you with attacks. There was often no chance at tactical reasoning. A lot has been said of the Valkyrie death animation, so I won’t speak to it, however I will say that I have come to believe that if a game starts you back exactly where you left off after dying it is blatantly telling you the developers KNEW you’d have no chance of making it through certain sections. That reeks of bad mechanics, bad development, or a combination of the two. Games shouldn’t be hard because the game literally won’t let you through a section without dying two or three times. They should be hard because it takes thought on the behalf of the player to navigate the gamescape. Too Human was more the former than the latter, sadly.
If only you could actually wield both at once, maybe they would have given us a traditional control scheme.
The graphics were decent, despite Silicon Knights’ hatred of the Unreal engine. The in-game graphics weren’t stunning but they got the job done. You were often running around with a giant hammer smacking shit in the face. How gorgeous does it need to be (and it was gorgeous artistically speaking)? However, the use of the in-game engine for the cut scenes showed how powerful the engine could be. I was often taken aback by the fidelity of the cut scenes. I drew the conclusion the engine was great for a game… just not this one. The camera would need to be closer to the character to show off the graphics, which TH didn’t do.
Sadly the game’s creators were so assured the game would “change the way we play games” and that it would warrant a number of sequels that they didn’t bother tying the game’s narrative threads together by the end, instead leaving it open to the sequels that at this point will likely never see the light of day. That’s sad because the best part of the whole story was the last series of cut scenes setting up the coming action. Sigh.
Quick ass review score: 6/10
Thanks for reading!
Up next will be Mercenaries 2 and Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. Stay tuned.
**All images provided by/found via Google Image Search.**