20081122

Mirror's Edge: The Best Movie I've Played Lately

"Once this city used to pulse with energy; dirty and dangerous but alive and wonderful. Now it is something else. The changes came slowly at first. Most did not realize or did not care, and accepted them. They chose a comfortable life. Some didn't. . . . they became our first clients."

Video games become more cinematic each day.

Mirror's Edge, by Electronic Arts and Dice, is a truly astonishing narrative achievement. The voice work is outstanding, the story is inventive and the plot twists happen in such a way as to be consistently shocking and entertaining. As a matter of fact, the story is so good that you'll barely notice a lot glitches and errors through out the game, because if your standing still in this game you're doing it wrong.

You take on the role of Faith, a young lady of prodigious agility, and little else. In the dystopian world the story is set in, the only secure way to communicate is to have a person physically carry correspondence. These people are called Runners, and they are frowned upon by the totalitarian regime that has pretty much exchanged people's freedom for a very, very clean city that is some sort of architectural mashup between Seattle, Wash., German Bauhaus design and a sprinkling of comic-book primary colors.

In a rather neat moment of world description, there was a screen in an elevator that said "Running! The latest threat to your children!" followed by some reading material to help pass the time while you were waiting an elevator.

Unlike a lot other action heroes, Faith is not a warrior in any sense of the word. She's a courier, and generally can't stand toe to toe with even a beat cop. So she doesn't. Instead, she uses misdirection, disarms and dodges to get around her opponents. Actually punching and kicking costs precious seconds, but Faith practices some sort of Street-Girl-Fu that can flip just about anyone ass-over-tea-kettle with the right timing.

Faith lost her mother during a riot when she was a child, so it's no wonder she has such a penchant for running from and flipping over the cops. Subsequently her family fell apart, putting her in a position to, in a sense, continue the tradition of dissent that initially broke her family by becoming a runner. Her sister, on the other hand, is the one who became obsessed with bringing order to the world, and became a cop.

This figures largely into the plot where a cross between Barak Obama and Joe Biden who was running office is murdered, and Faith's sister is framed for the dirty deed.

In a surprising little moment during the game, the main character hugs her sister and it's quite affecting in the first person perspective.

The plot unfolds predictably, but with such ambiance that you really feel involved in a story.

What's really funny about this is the plot is almost too good for the game. I found myself getting bored and frustrated with stupid puzzles that didn't reveal anything more about the plot or the world.

To put it another way, imagine you have to solve a Rubicks cube every five minutes or so while watching a film, but you have the help of the main character from film. It's kinda a cool, but I could do with less cube and more plot.

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