Labelling any game a “white-knuckle thrill ride” might seem more than a little glib, but when it comes to EA Mobile’s pulse quickening platformer Mirror’s Edge, trust me, it’s an enthusiastic commendation never more apt.
Cast as Faith, a courier gifted with near superhuman acrobatic prowess, and thrust into a glistening future where a rag-tag team of freedom fighters are perpetually ducking and diving a totalitarian government and the trigger happy local law enforcement, the player is rarely given opportunity to draw breath for the extent of the game’s running time.
The side-scrolling, pseudo 3D action unfolds at breakneck pace. Level 1 kicks off with a brief tutorial which takes you through the basics of traversing cityscapes by utilizing a dizzying blend of parkour, free running and other awe inspiring, gravity defying stunts.
Rather than rely on the sometimes clunky combination of virtual d-pad and action buttons, instead you maneuver your lithe protagonist through environments with flicks and swipes of your finger on the screen. This allows for a clutter free display (no healthbar or irritating directional arrow on show here either) and a control scheme that, once you get the hang of it, feels remarkably intuitive and well suited to iPhone.
In addition to acrobatics, Faith can also pull off an array of lightening fast hand-to-hand combat moves, including disarming and neutralizing foes in one fluid motion, a Matrix style slo-mo kung fu kick, and a bone-crunching sliding tackle. When timed right, these attacks can be incorporated seamlessly into an unstoppable dash, never interrupting the game’s turbo-charged momentum, and look absolutely stunning.
The goal of each level is to get from A to B in one piece. And leaping from building to building, scaling walls, vaulting over obstacles, sliding under others, brawling with cops, one-upping rival runners, and dodging hails of bullets from the police choppers that roam the skies is incredibly exciting.
Guiding our heroine through this platforming paradise truly does offer up an abundance of heart-in-your-mouth moments, be it chaining together a dazzling combination of moves, going toe to toe with gun toting baddies miles above terra firma, or making a vertigo inducing leap by the skin of your teeth.
Even on my now prehistoric 2nd Gen iPod Touch, Mirror’s Edge performs incredibly well; the visuals are absolutely breathtaking, controls consistently responsive, and the action moves along at a fair clip with no real slowdown to speak of.
That said, Mirror’s Edge isn’t without its flaws. The storyline feels tacked-on, and takes a distant backseat to the platforming action. While at a mere 12 levels, which can be blazed through pretty quickly, the running time is disappointingly brief. However, searching environments for hidden items and embarking on speed runs gives plenty of scope for multiple playthroughs. Overall, highly recommended.
iFanzine Verdict: A giant leap forward for platform games on iPhone, Mirror’s Edge merges slick, intuitive touch controls, fast and furious action, and jaw dropping visuals to exhilarating effect. Sheer entertainment from start to finish; an essential purchase!