Mirror's Edge Review

By Patrick Klepek - Posted Apr 27, 2010

Mirror's Edge on iPad is no cash-in mobile version of DICE's bold, flawed reinvention of the platformer, but something wholly unique and a game that wouldn't be nearly as appealing without touch mechanics driving the gameplay. Mirror's Edge is worth the above-average asking price on the App Store and purchasing the game hopefully sends a signal that consumers will pay higher prices for higher quality.

The Pros
  • A more streamlined -- maybe superior -- take on Mirror's Edge
  • Simple touch controls make complicated platforming effortless
  • Mirror's Edge aesthetic translates beautifully to the iPad screen
The Cons
  • Combat remains an unnecessary, mostly frustrating gameplay obstacle
  • The price--$12.99 on the App Store--may unnecessarily scare off some
  • It's currently only available on a device not many people own

Who could have guessed the next time we'd see Electronic Arts give Mirror's Edge another chance would be through an iPad launch game, one that manages to give the original game a run for its platforming money? Mirror's Edge on iPad is no cash-in mobile version of DICE's bold, flawed reinvention of the platformer, but something wholly unique and a game that wouldn't be nearly as appealing without the touch mechanics driving the gameplay.

Mirror's Edge (iPad)

LOOK, MA, NO BUTTONS!


iPhone users will have an immediate familiarity with Mirror's Edge thanks to Canabalt, the gorgeous one-button post-apocalyptic indie platformer. Mirror's Edge is best described as a more complicated Canabalt, something that mostly works in the game's favor. More and more, depth masked in simplicity appears to be key in making a touch-only game work, in addition to distancing design from a reliance on traditional buttons, which tend to not work so well on the iPhone or iPad. The larger screen on the iPad does help make that less of an issue, however.

Like Canabalt, there are no buttons on the screen. The clean interface happily compliments the game's already gorgeous aesthetics. Faith returns as the protagonist, but the iPad version removes open-world control in favor of a 2D plane where the goal is to never stop running. Ever. Mirror's Edge is all about continual forward momentum perpetuated by simple finger gestures. Slide your finger anywhere on the screen -- left or right -- and watch Faith take off. A simple swipe up makes her jump, moving down causes her to slide and more advance combinations allow her to pull of combat maneuvers like a jump kick -- swipe up, swipe right or left -- effortless. The game isn't worried about you pulling these moves off in tiny windows as per a traditional platformer, either. You can actually queue up actions for Faith while she's in middle of something else, which helps play down any frustrations from response imperfections.

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DON'T STOP BELIEV- RUNNING

The simplified platforming lends itself well to largely fixing the most common complaint against the console game: combat. Fighting in the iPad version is limited to tripping, jump kicking or throwing soldiers, all done while Faith tries to maintain her forward momentum. The only real issue arrises when the level design creates arbitrarily difficult sections loaded with several enemies in a row. When Faith stops moving, the fun stops, too. Mirror's Edge's hook relies on the player continuing at a breakneck pace. Enemies function as a simple obstacle to avoid in each stage and the moments when Mirror's Edge asks you to make a series of very specific movements in a tight window -- contrary to the rest of the gameplay design -- it breaks.

In fact, the weaknesses of the iPad version fall pretty much in line its bigger sister's faults, just on different levels. The combat sections (albeit better through simplicity) still feel unnecessary and environments that remove Faith from the outside world fall flat by comparison. Jumping around sewers wasn't fun the first time around and that fact hasn't really changed since.

Mirror's Edge (iPad)

THE PRICE OF QUALITY

The X factor when discussing any game for the iPhone, iPad or mobile is price. Price doesn't come up in reviews very often because we have a fixed price point for most of them. That's not the case at all on the App Store. EA came out swinging with Mirror's Edge, charging $12.99, a price that has maintained since. It took me about two hours to finish all of the available stages, but I'd only managed to collect a handful of the hidden messenger bags. But working in Mirror's Edge's favor is that unlike other platforms, free additional content is common for iPhone and iPad games. Even as it stands, however, Mirror's Edge is worth the asking price and purchasing the game hopefully sends a signal that consumers will pay higher pricers for higher quality.

Plus, a little more Mirror's Edge never hurt anyone, right?