Thursday, July 09, 2015

Dead Rising 2 vs Mirror's Edge

I'm an achievement hound. I don't consider a game truly finished until I've gotten all the achievements. I'm even doing this for Dead Rising 2, a game with which I have a lot of complaints (mostly about its depictions of race and gender, its hackneyed story, and its mediocre gameplay... frankly, everything but the fact that it never freezes or crashes).

However, I'm never going to get all the achievements for Mirror's Edge. As with Dead Rising 2, I have a lot of complaints about the game, all stemming from gameplay and none about the story or representation. And there's nothing hackneyed about it! I love everything about Mirror's Edge except actually playing it. It was a great attempt, a beautiful innovation, and I'll never be able to, by my lights, finish it.

Dead Rising 2 is kind of crap all around. It feels like the game is trying really hard to be sharp social commentary about... something. A mall that's also multiple casinos, zombies still standing in front of slot machines, a gameshow about killing zombies... But it all falls flat, not least because everything the enemies are doing, you the player are doing. The dialog is flat, the villains predictable, and the depictions are racist and sexist all over the place. I came close to hurting myself several times I rolled my eyes so hard.

By contrast, Mirror's Edge doesn't try too hard with its story. In fact, like the environmental style, the story is minimalist. You're presented with a world and only the bare bones of the full story are laid out. You're a small player in a much larger situation. It's a story begging for a sequel, and it's getting one. Unfortunately, they're sticking with what was, for me, the only thing about the game that was disappointing. The actual gameplay.

I love the Assassin's Creed series, so you know I love me some city-hopping parkour nonsense. Problem is, Mirror's Edge is first-person, so you can't see your feet. That's kind of a big deal when you're running around jumping off rooftops. Mostly because when you can't see your feet you often don't jump off the rooftop and instead just fall off it. Or you jump off it and don't land on the next one over. The game is all about timing your jumps and slides and stuff; it would be great but that timing is hard when you don't actually have a body. I really want to love the game, but it ends up being incredibly frustrating every time I pick it up.

With the first game, they didn't solve the myriad of obvious problems facing a first-person parkour platformer. Maybe this time they will. Not holding my breath, though.
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