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Review: Mirror's Edge for iOS
by Parker Scott Mortensen

Mirror’s Edge is one of my most favourite games of all time. It’s a game of simplicity; a sublime experience where all excess between you and the the game environment is thrown out the window. It’s defenestration of the superfluous in favour of immersion, and that’s a wholly unique concept for video games.

Mirror’s Edge for iPhone is not this, but it is worthwhile in its own right. While the console iteration of Mirror’s Edge was a first-person experience, the iPhone iteration is a side-scrolling platformer among the lines of Canabalt. As a game about fluid momentum, Mirror’s Edge translates extremely well to this type of gameplay, and the iPhone is a great place to execute it.

On consoles, Mirror’s Edge was somewhat difficult to control, but Mirror’s Edge on iPhone - we'll refer to it from now on as 'ME iOS', for simplicity's sake - is smooth and intuitive. To make Faith run in a given direction you swipe either left or right, to make her jump you swipe up, and swiping down makes her slide. It’s a pretty simple set of commands, but the game achieves that desirable zen-like sensation of fluidity by churning these variables together, and adding a handful of micro-gestures that increase how quickly Faith can traverse. It’s a little more complicated than Canabalt, for instance, where your only control is when and how long to jump, but ME iOS not so complex that it’s frustrating.

ME iOS is a short experience, and no single level is completely satisfying either, as each is short and typically littered with a few enemy encounters. Similarly to the console version, the enemy encounters are the game’s weakest aspect: combat in ME iOS is frustrating, a nasty road-bump on an otherwise calming experience. Faith can slide, jump kick and disarm enemies she meets by swiping either down, up, or left and right, but each option will either follow lethal gunfire, slow Faith down, or eventually kill her and end a run if failed. None of these consequences enhance the game experience; rather, they detract from it. Like the Mirror’s Edge on consoles, ME iOS would benefit from either retooling the role of combat or doing away with it altogether, especially as it interrupts the more satisfying fluidity of the gameplay.

Since this mobile version of Mirror’s Edge succeeds so well in delivering a calming, zen-like experience, I would have appreciated some longer levels, or perhaps a mode of infinite level generation where I could just keep running and navigating. As it is, I probably won’t return to ME iOS, simply because the levels aren’t worth returning to once you’ve mastered them. There are collectible runner bags, akin to Mirror’s Edge on consoles, but they are frustrating to reach and don’t really exemplify the game’s controls and what kind of gameplay they can achieve. Still, if you liked Mirror’s Edge and can find enjoyment in spurts of fluid platforming, Mirror’s Edge on iPhone is definitely worth checking out.

7/10 [?]

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- Parker Scott Mortensen

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