Mirror's Edge: Playing In The Flow
So, after wanting to play Mirror's Edge for the better part of a year, but not wanting to part with $70 for the privilege, I finally managed to score the game for $5 on Steam. Seriously. $5. If you don't use Steam for buying PC games, then you're probably throwing your money away. You may as well just burn it. But I digress.
Mirror's Edge is a rare kind of game, a game in league with other classics like the THPS series (Tony Hawk Pro Skater), though outwardly, it doesn't seem to have much in common with it at all. What's the connection? It is simply that like, THPS, in order to play Mirror's Edge well, you need to develop a set of skills and learn to use them well. I've been playing THPS for years, so long that I can go many many months without picking up a controller, then pick it up and skate lines with a sort of zen like flow that makes other gamers jealous. This isn't just empty boasting on my part, its like riding a bike, you teach your gaming hands a certain methodology, and a game that you once stuttered through suddenly becomes a nigh religious experience.
Mirror's Edge makes overt reference to this when it refers to 'the flow'. It is, so the game says, a way of seeing the world. Gamers of action oriented skill games will know exactly what Mirror's Edge was talking about when they referenced the flow. Good Mirror's Edge players play the game like a symphony. It's quite beautiful to watch. I'm not quite there yet. But I will be one day, because experience has taught me that games like this are worth sticking with.
So far I'm a predictable stuttering mess. I had to skip the bulk of the tutorial level because, for the longest time, no matter what I did, Faith would just not grab that first vertical pipe, which is weird, because it is an automated game move. I skipped into the opening of the game and found myself working my way through the city to Celeste, which is where I discovered that although the game has a very open plan feel, you're subtly directed where to go, limited by the options of possibility. Even if you have no idea where you're supposed to be heading, heading wherever will eventually get you where you need to be. If you get really lost (which can happen in the case of exits located above your head,) pressing left alt shows you where to go.
Playing story mode means being willing to fail, because from the moment you start the game, people start shooting at you, which is incredibly stressful when you're lost to begin with. Did I say stressful? I meant 'heart poundingly fun'. There you go. Something a little more upbeat, for those of us who like to pretend we're being shot at.
In combination with the storyline of the game, there is also the race modes to play. Winning race modes means discovering the most efficient lines and executing your run perfectly. It's not a task for the weak of heart or for anyone who is not willing to perfect their art, but it is a reasonable amount of fun. (Reasonable amount of fun... how's that for a glowing recommendation?)