Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Running on the Edge

            A progression game with emergent components, Mirror’s Edge is a first person action game in which the player plays as Faith, an agent known as a Runner. Runners are a group of people who use the rooftops and air vents of buildings to travel gaining intelligence about the corrupt government within the game. Facing armed policemen and brutish government agents, Faith is attempting to liberate her policewoman sister, Kate, who has been kidnapped and framed for the murder of an up-and-coming congressman who might have brought an uncorrupt voice into the government.

           Heavily story-oriented, Mirror’s Edge constitutes as what Juul would call a progression game. Each level is played once to progress further into the story with animated cut scenes in between each level, introducing characters and furthering Faith on her mission to free her sister. However, each level can played with a variety of pathways. Using her Runner skills, Faith leaps over air conditioning ducts, launches off of crates, and swings from pipes moving from rooftop to rooftop. There are a multitude of props to use to get from point A to point B, and the player could take a different route each time if he or she so chooses, revealing the emergent qualities of the game. There is a suggested route on each level marked by props and doors that are red; this feature is called “Runner Vision” and can be toggled on and off according to whether the player’s experience is enough to go through the game without help. While falling from buildings is imminent, checkpoints are automatically saved, never putting the player very far from where they died. With no limit on the number of times Faith can die, “game over” is not an option.

            Mirror’s Edge fits Juul’s classic game model as follows:

1. Rules: Must use the buttons learned in the tutorial to jump, slide, wall run, and succeed in other maneuvers; follow the red markers for the quickest route; get to the target specified using a variety of maneuvers and routes
2. Variable outcome: Getting to the end of the story and saving Kate.
3. Value: Completing the game/story
4. Effort: Finding a path to the target, using maneuvers and attacks against enemies, investing time in the story
5. Attachment: Characters developed throughout, feeling for Faith and her mission to save her sister
6. Negotiable consequences: Pride in completing the game, detaching from the characters for the story is over

            While Mirror’s Edge is primarily based around the story, once the story is completed, other tasks may be completed. For instance, there are Runner stash bags that are hidden throughout each level. Once each chapter is completed, it can be accessed individually from different checkpoints to be scoured for the bags, unlocking extra achievements if all bags are found.
            Aside from fully completing each chapter, each chapter comes equipped with a speed run trial, where the player can play the individual chapter and attempt to reach the end goal under a specific, set amount of time. Achievements are awarded for making it to the end of the chapter under the time, the level of achievement depending on how much time was shaved off from the goal time. Secret levels are unlocked and allow the player to progress in the game even after the story is finished.

            Mirror’s Edge is one of my personal favorite games for the intense attention to detail and the captivating storyline. It’s also insanely entertaining jumping from building to building, doing more parkour stunts than I could possibly do in real life. When I beat the game, I felt accomplished, but sad that the story was complete. However, having a large array of time trials and other tasks to complete to unlock all the achievements kept me occupied for much longer than the story itself. Overall, Mirror’s Edge is a great game with plot twists and turns as well as physical twists and turns, and many of Juul’s theories are directly applicable to the game. 

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