Friday, May 2, 2014

First Impressions: Mirror's Edge & Bioshock 2

Dr. Potts has already talked a bit about Mirror's Edge so I won't go into a whole lot of detail about the game, just my general thoughts after having played for just about four hours.  And last month (technically in March), SneakyTiki got me Bioshock Infinite for my Nameday so that influenced me to have a go at Bioshock 2 and after five hours, I would like to talk at you about it.  Yes, I ended a sentence with it.  Again.

I can fully understand the appeal of this game as it fulfills one of the core reasons why I play video games: Mirror's Edge allows me to do something I cannot do in real life.  

Presently, I have played through the tutorial and, I think, the first four levels.  The tutorial threw a lot at me, almost too much for my liking.  I agree with Dr. Potts that Portal does a better job of introducing the player to game mechanics and I feel that the tutorial stage should have been a whole series of levels and not just a series of jumps (good, now you know that one), wall climbs (now you know that one), falling rolls (good, you didn't die, moving on) and wall-to-wall jumps (did you accidentally make it up the wall and not really know what you did, that's okay, moving on).  And that's just dealing with the terrain.  You are also given a very rudimentary crash course in assailants, disarming said assailants and avoiding them.  The tutorial/training course takes maybe 10 minutes and at the end, I feel like the game expects that I now have a firm grasp on being able to complete the game.  Not true, at least in my case.

So far, I get the impression that the game is broken up into sections.  First, there are the sections where you are chased by Blues (coppers) and shot at extensively by them and helicopters.  I somewhat understand them being included so that the player doesn't linger and they add a sense of urgency to get through the stage.  The down side is that I am not having fun.  I feel like these stages I could play in any first person video game and are not special to Mirror's Edge.  The other sections are chase stages, where you have to get from point A to point B while following someone who is just a hair faster than you.  There is still that same sense of urgency, but instead of being shot at, you run the risk of losing sight of your target.  This is what is keeping me playing the game, to have the chance to free run through a level with the only threat of death being my own stupidity as I jump a fence only to fall thirty flights down and hear by bones shatter and body splat as it greets the pavement.

One very interesting thing that I had to do with the game was lower a lot of the video settings.  This game came out back in 2008 and I would like to believe that my laptop is capable of running a game that was released four years before  the components were created could handle the graphic requirements.  Initially I had "everything" turned up to max (except Anti-aliasing which was at 2x), but I began experiencing sever lag whenever I was being shot at by more than one source.  The skipping/lag became so bad that I was unable to time my jumps, which is a rather important ability in a game that centers around parkour.  I then went back into the settings and turned down texture detail and graphics quality to medium and was forced to turn off anti-aliasing and "phy sx" support.  I can now play the game while being shot at by five coppers and a helicopter without having to worry if the game is going to start skipping as I approach that highlighted red board leaning haphazardly over the side of the building leading me to that other building across the street and two stories down.

Oh, and lastly, I have noticed, perhaps not too surprisingly, that I get motion sickness after playing for about 3o minutes.  The effect is more pronounced when I play on my laptop, but on the TV, I can play for about an hour.  So there's that too.

I won't talk to much about Bioshock 2 as I ended up talking more about Mirror's Edge than I had planned and I don't feel like editing down or breaking this up into two posts.  In short, I am very much enjoying Bioshock 2.  I have played about five hours and after the initial disorientation at the beginning, I am having a lot of fun.  I enjoy being back in Rapture and once I figured out that the prologue takes place before the first Bioshock and then the rest of the game begins after those events, I was able to enjoy the game even more.

What I find interesting, is that I had a preconceived notion/impression that Bioshock 2 received bad reviews.  That people did not like taking control of a Big Daddy, that the gameplay was redundant of the first game, that the story did not offer anything new to the world of Rapture and that the game needed a constant internet connection all played towards the game being a disappointing followup to the masterpiece that was the first Bioshock.

As it turns out, at least according to Wikipedia, Bioshock 2 was actually a very good game that expands on the universe.  As is the case with any game, there are going to be negative reviews so maybe that was where my pre-playing impression originated from.  So it turns out I am not as alone as I thought I was going to be by stating that I am currently liking what Bioshock 2 has offered in the way of story, game play, voice acting and music.  It feels good to be back in Rapture.



  1. That was a perfect description of the tutorial for Mirror's Edge.

    I also like what you say about the chase scenes. I agree that it gets more to the core mechanic. It makes me think that if they ever release a Mirror's Edge 2, they should have a 2-player race function! I think that it would be a ton of fun to have 'tracks' or at least to have free-range roof-scapes where two people race to a destination.

  2. Well, EA Dice is making a sequel to Mirror's Edge. And it looks like a lot of the members from the original team will not be involved for whatever reason.

    And yes, a race between 2 - 4 people online would be pretty fun, or maybe even co-op levels, similar to Portal 2. Like you have to do something on your side of the building to let the person on the other side (of the street?) progress through theirs. Maybe each person is associated with a different color (Player 1: Red, Player 2: Green etc), or maybe not.

  3. That video doesn't look half bad. I like that the minimalist aesthetic is maintained with really fancy reflections and resolution and stuff.

    I love your ideas. We should definitely be hired by EA to tell them how to make a better game. I don't care about the story, but I do like the core mechanics. If EA can't do it right, maybe someone else can borrow the essentials and turn it into a sweet racing game.

  4. Make that racing/puzzle game. I think the co-op mode would totally work.