Friday, June 25, 2010

More Mirror's Edge

It turns out there are, in fact, some user-made maps for Mirror's Edge, to my surprise. There don't seem to be very many, but they're located on the fan site On Mirror's Edge.

There's also some DLC available for it -- the Pure Time Trial Map Pack, which, true to its name, is a set of maps without combat. However, the environment is not the city rooftops from the original game, but sets of abstract shapes floating in space. If you ask me, I think taking away the urban environment pretty much strips most of the "parkour" out of it.

Those who want it anyway, who own the game on Steam, would normally be out of luck for some reason, as it doesn't officially work on Steam. However, the same forum listed above has a workaround available to allow Steam users to play the maps too.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mirror's Edge (impulse buying on Steam)

Steam and GoG, I think, really understand the mechanics of the impulse buy. It's hard for me to resist a game that I've been interested to play, when they offer it at 75% off. They also seem to know to save the best games for last, when they're doing a 1 sale a day week, like they just did recently. That's how I ended up with Mirror's Edge and Mass Effect. I might not have bought Mirror's Edge if I had known that Mass Effect would be the next offering, but so far I'm generally glad I did.

I bought Mirror's Edge because it had generally favourable reviews despite its short length, and because I like the idea of doing parkour in a clean, modern city. I watched the trailer, which described the sort of person Faith, the main character, is: a courier who runs rooftops to deliver parcels of dubious purpose. These couriers, the trailer said, keep a low profile, and the police leave them alone. Sounded good to me.

But in playing the game, I can't help thinking that some possible executive meddling occurred between the game's design document and its final release, because instead I found myself playing as a runner who's not delivering anything, running away from the constant police and helicopters shooting at me. WTF? I thought I was supposed to be playing as a courier -- sort of a parkour version of Crazy Taxi! I suppose I should have been tipped off by the brief scenes of combat in the latter part of the trailer, but when the bulk of the video is of a peaceful gymnastic run with soft music in the background, ending with Faith looking over the city balanced on a narrow crane, and a logo that reminds me of the Nike swoosh (again reinforcing the idea that it's a racing type game) what was I supposed to think?

Now, I've seen plenty of parkour videos where the traceurs run to evade people who are chasing them, but I think having to run through hordes of hooligans shooting at me is somewhat distant from the whole "joy and freedom of traversing obstacles" philosophy I see in parkour. I think a parkour-oriented game should be designed like Trackmania, the car racing game, where the purpose is to negotiate the track, with all its tricks, jumps, and flips, in the fastest time possible, without worrying about taking damage. Mirror's Edge feels more like it was designed like GTA: San Andreas, where there's some really great car racing (and even some great timed taxi delivery and ambulance pick up and rescue games!), but the flow of the race is interrupted by damage which can cause your car to explode, other people in cars ramming and shooting at you, and pedestrians who may be accidentally hit, causing an unwanted police chase interfering with the part of the game you're trying to play.

This complaint isn't entirely fair, because apparently most of what I wanted out of the game in the first place is provided in the form of the "race" mode of the game. Race mode is all about running to checkpoints and getting the fastest time, with the welcome absence of people with guns. Good! The only problem is that the maps for race mode are only unlocked by going through story mode, unlocking a few for each chapter of the story mode completed. So, unless there's some cheat code out there to let me just unlock the part of the game I wanted in the first place, I have to slog through a battlefield first. Was that really necessary? And if so, why?

Well, at least once it's out of the way I don't have to worry about it again, and I'm glad to see that the racing game I was expecting is available to play after I jump through those hoops (although missing the "courier delivery" aspect). Very much like Trackmania (and probably other racing games) there are "fastest time" leaderboards, personal bests, and bronze, silver, and gold level "qualifying" times (in the form of 1, 2, and 3 star ratings), along with the running ghost of your last best run to compete against. Ideally, there would be player-made obstacle courses available to download as well (as Portal has), but I haven't found anything like that in the time I've looked. If there were, this could be a game with a lot of life in it -- one I could turn to along with Trackmania whenever I feel like playing a racing game.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Quick update

Given that I've done a lot of Oblivion and Morrowind coverage on this blog, I thought I'd mention that I came across a great sale on various Bethesda games on Steam for this weekend, including those two games, at 66% and 75% off. (No, I'm not getting compensated by anyone for mentioning these things.)

I really need to finish up the three other blog posts that I have in various states of completion, on all the different games I've been playing lately.