Peer into your iPad screen and ask it this question: Mirror's Edge, Mirror's Edge on my lap, which is the fairest of all the launch apps?
To which comes the response: you are, of course.
With crisp visuals and sharp gameplay, you dear Mirror's Edge are the fairest iPad launch game of them all.
Like an amped-up Canabalt, Mirror's Edge mixes platforming and speed to great effect. It excels, though, in ways the former could only imagine with clever level design, a sprinkling of combat, and inventive multiplayer modes.
Depth and accessibility together in one fun run.Dystopian fun
Set in the not-too-distant future, you play as an underground courier named Faith who seeks to circumvent the city's totalitarian government.
The 14-mission story takes you across rooftops and cranes, through buildings and scaffolding to deliver vital information and track down rivals. Overcoming obstacles in the 2D stages is your primary goal, though disarming guards and collecting hidden packages keep you busy too.
Faith's runner rebellion comes to life on iPad; the expansive screen being an ideal surface on which to direct her parkour moves.
Sliding a finger left or right sends her running in the corresponding direction. Objects shaded red signify obstacles to be jumped over by swiping up with a finger or slid under by swiping down. Other moves include speeding down zip-lines, wall-jumping, side-stepping across billboards, and sliding down vertical surfaces.
In spite of the specificity demanded by any platformer, the controls work remarkably well. Occasionally there are some sticky situations, though it feels more a result of tricky level design than a problem with the controls.Don't trip
Tight corridors provide limited room to manoeuvre and momentum can be cut short if your timing isn't spot-on. For example, one early level requires jumping up an elevator shaft with dangerous steam vents that are difficult to avoid.
The timing involved is tough, but it's not affected by the controls. It feels a little slanted in this sense and there are a few spots that take several attempts before a successful run is made. Fortunately, it's never acute enough that you ever feel frustrated or are stuck for an extended period of time.
Combat is much the same.
When Faith goes in for a debilitating slide kick or aerial attack, the game enters slow-motion to dramatise the scene. Enemies regularly appear in quick succession, though, so it can be tough trying to prepare a follow-up attack when the game is lingering in slow-mo from your previous assault.
Again, the controls work beautiful, it's that the level design that throws up an awkward moment every now and again.Multiplayer marathon
Anyhow, such quibbles pale in comparison to all that Mirror's Edge does right.
By adhering to the conventions laid out by the console original - objects coloured to signify whether they're an obstacle or a help, for instance - and by actively minimising those qualities that weren't successful, the game achieves the oft-elusive balance between challenge and accessibility.
Retooling the combat system for ease also shows how this iPad edition refines the formula.
The invention of two competitive multiplayer modes demonstrates the extent to which Mirror's Edge seeks to come out from the shadow of the console game.
Race mode sends you and a friend sprinting through any of the campaign levels, whereas Rivals mode names as winner whoever can acquire the most messenger bags in four original levels. They're nowhere near as satisfying as the story or posting your best personal times in Speed Run mode, but are still a fresh attraction if you have a couple minutes to spare with a buddy.
The inclusion of multiplayer and leaderboards ensure Mirror's Edge is a well-rounded game, yet it's the moments spent hurdling over rooftops and sprinting through industrial complexes knocking out enemies that make it nothing short of thrilling.
For that reason, it's an impressive launch title that will run with the best of them over the months to come.