My first impression of Mirror's Edge was that it looked extremely unique. After playing it, I can say that my assessment was spot on. I have never before played a game quite like Mirror's Edge, and I have reason to believe that you haven't either.
Imagine a world where everything is censored and monitored. You can't even send an email or a letter without a government middleman stepping in. All the phone lines are tapped. everything on the internet is closely monitored. How would you then transport sensitive or private information? That is where "runners" come into the picture. These parkour practitioners will get your package delivered safely, discretely and effectively without anyone knowing. Traveling across the rooftops of towering skyscrapers, through ventilation systems, or whatever else will get them to their destination the fastest, these people will get your items delivered in record time. In Mirror's Edge, you play one such runner named Faith. Faith's mission is much more important than delivering a package - her sister Kate, who is a cop (or a "blue" as the runners call them) has been framed for murder. Faith is trying to uncover the truth and prove her sister's innocence.
Mirror's Edge is played in the first person view point, and while there is very brief gun-play, it is not a first person shooter. It is more akin to a first person platformer or adventure. You always have a destination you are trying to reach, and you may use anything in the environment that you can grab onto, jump off of, or run across to reach your goal. If you ever get lost, and don't know where to head, you can hold down the B button (on Xbox 360) and Faith will automatically look in exactly the direction you need to be heading. Additionally, any object that you can grab or jump from is highlighted red when you come near (except on hard mode). Faith is very fragile, so if you fall from very high, she will die. Additionally, if "blues" are in the vicinity, combat is best avoided unless it is a directive. While Faith knows hand to hand combat, she will still die in just 2 or 3 hits.
Mirror's Edge has very tight controls, though they take a few minutes to adjust to. Once you have them down, which should take about half an hour at most, you'll be scaling rooftops, sliding under pipes and throat chopping blues like you did it for a living. I'll be using the Xbox 360 controller to explain the controls, as this is the system I played the game on. As you probably guessed, the left stick controls movement and the right stick controls where you are looking. There is no need to press or hold a button to run faster. As you move, you slowly gain speed and momentum - so, if you need to make a long jump from one room to another, all you need is the proper distance to gain the momentum. Speaking of, jumping is handled by the left bumper, which also controls grabbing ledges. This may feel awkward at first, but ultimately this makes the game easier to control and more fluid. The right bumper causes you to perform a 180 degree turn. So, if you press left bumper at a will, you will wall run up the wall about 4 steps. If you then press right bumper while on the wall, immediately followed by the left bumper again, you will kick off the wall in the opposite direction. When you land when jumping or falling from a great height, you will need to press left trigger with the proper timing to roll upon landing and break your fall. Left trigger also causes you to crouch while on the ground, or the slide while running, allowing to to slide under pipes, doors, etc. The A button is used to interact with buttons such as elevator calls, the X button enters "reaction time", which is slow motion and can be used once per stage. As previously mentioned, holding B will cause Faith to look at your goal. the right trigger handles attacking as well as barging into doors. When you press the right trigger while stationary, Faith will punch. While crouching, it will cause her to kick. If you run, crouch and then press the right trigger, she will slide kick. Finally, if you jump and press the right trigger, she will perform a jump kick. If you get close to a "blue", and he tries to melee you, his weapon will at some point during his swing flash red, usually for only a brief second. If at this time you press Y, you will disarm and take out that enemy. Additionally, if there is a weapon lying on the ground from a defeated enemy, you may press Y to pick it up, and fire with the right trigger. Gun-play is a tad sloppy, but I think they intended this. Faith is not a sharpshooter - she is a runner. She is not good with guns. This isn't a huge setback, however. The Y button also drops a weapon if you are holding one.
The graphics in Mirror's Edge are truly gorgeous.The detail on clothing, such as Faith's pants, is astounding. Environments have a mostly sterile feel, being mostly white. This is offset by the glowing red objects that you may utilize. When inside of buildings, there is usually a central pastel color theme - usually blue, green, orange, or yellow. The lighting in this game is also very bright. Occasionally, it can be a tad blinding. Perhaps this effect was desired, but it may be annoying occasionally. If this becomes a problem, try adjusting the brightness settings in the game or on your television. Cutscenes surprisingly don't use these gorgeous visuals. They instead use a beautiful art style of their own. They are 2D and cel shaded, giving cutscenes a distinct anime look, but with enough flavor of its own for it not to technically be anime.
Mirror's edge has a bit of replay value as well. Though the campaign is relatively short, there are several challenge and speedun maps, more of which can be downloaded will keep you occupied for a while if you let them. Additionally, each level in the story has 3 hidden runner bags. These bags, dropped or left behind by other runners are cleverly hidden and require tricky tactics to reach. A nice touch for the completionist out there.
I honestly don't have a lot of complaints about mirror's edge. It is a very unique experience. Difficulty mostly stems from combat, and if you get stuck you'll find a solution relatively quickly. The story is also quite short. The music, which mostly consists of piano melodies and techno, is almsot unnoticeable most of the time. This makes it relaxing, however.
If you have $20 burning a hole in your pocket, and you are looking for a unique game to occupy you for a bit, Mirror's Edge is well worth looking into.