Hangout Steamtroller: Mirror’s Edge

By Shamus Posted Sunday Dec 13, 2015

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 49 comments

Link (YouTube)

Here’s our livestream of Josh playing Mirror’s Edge with the Steam Controller. Like Total War, I gotta say this works way better than I expected.

Josh has always wanted to do a Mirror’s Edge season of Spoiler Warning, and I’ve always vetoed it. Covering the game would mean playing it, and that’s just not happening. Forget it. It’s like the thing was designed to frustrate and disappoint me.

But this stream shows off a nice chunk of the game, and… yeah. It looks like a really middling and uninspired game wrapped in a deceptively captivating aesthetic.


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49 thoughts on “Hangout Steamtroller: Mirror’s Edge

  1. Lame Duck says:

    “It looks like a really middling and uninspired game wrapped in a deceptively captivating aesthetic.”

    I don’t think I could disagree with you more. At its best Mirror’s Edge is amazing and at its worst it’s pretty awful; it varies wildly but it’s never “middling”.

    1. Flip says:


      I’ve played it through several times and it’s either terrible – particularly in the combat sections – or great. That said, I would love to see a Spoiler Warning season for MiE. It is not a very long game and there is plenty to talk about (gameplay, first person perspective, level design). Sure, the plot is barely there, but that’s also true for Mass Effect 2.

    2. Hermocrates says:

      I’d say the plot was pretty middling. It wasn’t interesting but it never made me upset, unlike the other ME (not 1). But yeah, I agree the gameplay was purely on the extremes of great and awful.

      1. Mattias42 says:

        According to what I’ve heard through interviews, Mirror’s Edge is a classic case of the story being bent over a banister because the rest of the game took precedent as far as the… well, game designers were concerned.

        Rhianna Pratchett has repeatedly stated that she’s unhappy with what happened to the story she wrote for MiE. Faith was meant to have a lot of her character development happen in in-level dialogue, something that got ripped out at last minute, for instance.

        On a theoretical level I can see the point when you’re trying a new, untried genera, but why hire such a big name author if you’re just going to throw half her work in the bin?

        That does not seem like a wise use of resources to me if you already consider the story to be of minor importance at best…

        1. Lame Duck says:

          I wouldn’t exactly describe Rhianna Pratchett as a big name author though, especially at the time that Mirror’s Edge was being developed. You can tell from playing it that the game had time and/or budget constraints and the story was not the only thing that suffered for it.

          1. Mattias42 says:

            I’ll freely admit she’s ridden quite a bit on her old man’s coat-tails, but at the time she was still a very promising beginner hot from the success of the first Overlord game. Something she’s since then proved was no one-time fluke.

            Still, I’ll admit, yeah, the whole production for MiE was very troubled. Story was hardly the only thing in that game that had corners cut.

            1. Grimwear says:

              Personally, I’m rather ambivalent towards Rhianna Pratchett. Out of the games she’s written where she was the lead I’ve only played the first Overlord and Tomb Raider. Now from the limited amount I remember from Overlord I enjoyed it however I cannot recall any moments that made me especially excited. The same can be said for Tomb Raider. Her writing is extremely functional with no giant flaws but I personally see nothing amazing with what she writes. Ask anyone what they remember of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider and the answer you’ll get is that she gets beat up a lot and does a lot of grunting and pain noises. I honestly have no idea if those were written into the script by Pratchett but for that to be the defining characteristic of the protagonist is a let down. I mean even Commander Shepard has his favorite store on the citadel. Again I honestly don’t mind Pratchett or would willingly avoid any of her work. I do plan on picking up Rise of the Tomb Raider when it comes to pc and from what I’ve heard the story is fine. The major issue is just that there’s nothing special about her writing and while the story of Mirror’s Edge would have no doubt been better without the crap that the devs pulled on her, I just don’t see it ever being something that would have been able to pull me in and get me invested.

              1. Raygereio says:

                The thing to remember is that Rhianna Pratchet is a freelance writer. She’ll be brought in late during a game’s development when a lot of stuff has already been set in stone and she’ll have very little in the way of real creative input.
                The reason she’s been pushed forward a lot is because marketing wants to capitalize on her surname.

                Ask anyone what they remember of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider and the answer you'll get is that she gets beat up a lot and does a lot of grunting and pain noises. I honestly have no idea if those were written into the script by Pratchett but for that to be the defining characteristic of the protagonist is a let down.

                There was stuff from interviews with Tombraider’s developers that made me think it mandated by others on the team. They wanted to portray Lara as a victim and appear vulnerable. The intention being that the player would feel protective towards Lara and would want to help her not get raped, not get impaled by spears and evil trees and whatnot.
                That was apparently their incredibly clueless and dumb way of attempting to connect the (male) player with Lara's (female) character. Mind you, there were points during Tombraider – especially during the more ridiculous death scenes – where I began to suspect someone on the dev team simply had a fetish for that stuff.

                As for Mirror’s Edge. Here’s an important quote from an interview she did:

                I believe the game had been in development for a couple of years before I joined the project. At that point all the levels had been designed with no narrative through-line (again, understandable and not uncommon) and there were visuals for a few of the characters, such as Faith, Miller and Ropeburn.
                So my task was really finding that through-line, filling in the gaps, building flesh and bones and breathing life.

                Mirror’s Edge was first announced in July of 2007. It was announced that Pratchet would be writing for Mirror’s Edge in July of 2008 and the game shipped in November the same year. So basically when she was brought in, Dice handed her a set of levels and said “Okay here is our basic plot idea, you figure out that dialogue, characterization and other stuff. Oh, and the game has to go gold in a few weeks so chop chop.”
                No one could have produced excellent story telling under conditions like that.

                1. Grimwear says:

                  While that is true for Mirror’s Edge, she was lead writer for both Tomb Raider games. I like to imagine that lead writers have some sway over the scripts they write but honestly who knows how much developer interference occurred. Either way I’m still waiting for the time when Pratchett will provide me with an in game moment aside from “this is fine”.

      2. Awetugiw says:

        I consider the storytelling of Mirror’s Edge to be significantly worse than middling. The main idea is pretty good*, but most of the events and character actions seem quite disconnected from the main idea and from each other. Not quite coincidentally, it almost seems as if the story was an afterthought that was only added in after the levels were done.

        The best thing that I can say about the story is that it is easy to ignore. The quality of the story of Mirror’s Edge isn’t really higher than that of, say, Fallout 3, but because MiE is no RPG you don’t have to think about what your character would do or so in this nonsensical world.

        Given that Shamus isn’t exactly known for his high tolerance of bad storytelling, I’m not really surprised that Mirror’s Edge is not his favorite game.

        *Conflict between on the one hand an oppressive regime that does bring order, and on the other hand the people who feel that this order isn’t worth the price.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Covering the game would mean playing it

    Why?Youve covered games where some of you havent played it already,and with this one you have played it,just a while ago.You can easily watch a quick lets play just to refresh your memory.

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      Probably because others haven’t played it and since he hasn’t played it his commentary would descend into pointless trolling of Josh. Also while I do adore ME, I don’t think there is anything in it past it’s interesting visuals and the gameplay and so it’s unlikely there would be enough to discuss for an entire season. On the gripping hand, if you know what you are doing, and if you put it on easy (difficulty only affects the damage enemies do) it is a rather short game.

      1. Hermocrates says:

        difficulty only affects the damage enemies do

        It also forces Runner Vision to off, but if you’re playing again after recently beating it, it’s hardly a handicap.

        1. 4th Dimension says:

          Bud only on HIGH difficulty I think and only crazy people play on that.

          1. Hermocrates says:

            Right, I meant high difficulty. Thanks for the clarification.

    2. Shamus says:

      Right, but having never played it at all, fans would “YOU CAN’T SAY THAT BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T PLAY THROUGH THE WHOLE THING!” me to death.

      This is particularly important because my comments would be mostly negative. I’d HAVE to play Mirrors Edge if I wanted to dump on it for several hours.

      1. Flip says:

        Several hours?

        You can finish the game in single evening (faster if you know the way – this is a jump ‘n’ run after all).

      2. Hermocrates says:

        If you’re not already a fan of the game, then honestly I think you’d be more bored than negative for most of it. There are only so many things to say about the platforming and the combat, especially if you only have watching Josh (or any other player) to go by. And a bored Spoiler Warning cast is probably the last thing any of us would want, if Alan Wake is something to go by (although I did enjoy the wildly off-topic conversations at the time).

        1. Gruhunchously says:

          But on the other hand, as has been pointed out, the game is really short if you know the levels. You could probably fit the entire thing into a one-week special. I’d wouldn’t think there would be much risk of the commentary running dry before it was over.

          1. 4th Dimension says:

            It wouldn’t be possible for them to finish it in one week. In this video Josh played for like 1,5 to 2 hours and he still got only like 1/3 of the way in? Also later levels have some more “interesting” moves that need to be performed, so all in all it would take them ~6-8 hours I think. And that is waaaayyy more than one week of videos. Also if nobody except Josh played it and Shamus participated most of the discussion past the first hour or so would be offtoppic.

            1. Flip says:

              To be fair, this was with the Steam Controller. I imagine they would be faster with M+K or a normal Controller.

              1. 4th Dimension says:

                I don’t remember Josh having much trouble in this even with the SteamTroller. It would be quicker but not significantly qoucker. Also there would be quite a it of screwing around since SW is rarely a speedrun attempt.

      3. AileTheAlien says:

        Shamus, I think you could get most of the experience of playing the game, by just playing the demo level, the training course / tutorial thing, and then just watching the cutscenes online somewhere. Really, that should cover all of the good mechanics, skip the boring / tedious ones (aka combat, especially against guys who are immune to your melee and thus require you to pick up guns), and would let you see all the problems with the story that we ended up with in the cutscenes. Especially since YouTube allows watching stuff in fast-forward (you need to use the HTML5 version, not the old flash player), I think you could get through this in like, a couple hours at most. :)

  3. The Snide Sniper says:

    Mirror’s Edge tends to be a game that people either love or hate.

    Some people think platforming in first person is confusing and awful. I (and probably some other people) don’t see the problem. Then again, I’m not particularly dependent on depth perception, so maybe the Oculus Rift would help.

    Just about no-one likes the combat. It’s terrible.

    The later levels of the game, which stop letting you do platforming and force you to fight, are also terrible. They miss the point of the game, of everything that makes the beginning so wonderful.

    That said, I’m one of the people willing to forgive M.E.’s combat and later levels just so I can play those wonderfully free, beautifully crafted early levels.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I neither love nor hate it.It was an average game that Ive played through exactly once and have no desire to play again.For me,its the very definition of meh.

      1. Zekiel says:

        For me it was a game I wanted to like, but was profoundly “meh” towards because I just wasn’t very good at it. The idea of being able to smoothly move through a level doing all these cool parkour moves was great. In practice, with me in control, Faith couldn’t move more than about 30 metres without coming to a grinding halt as she fluffed a jump or missed a ledge. Since the story was so profoundly “eh” I never had the motivation to complete the game, short though it is.

        1. Tom says:

          Same for me. I tapped out at some later level where you had to walk elevated beams at strange controller angles, which always failed. I thought the controls were difficult too, at least compared to other platform style games.

          I liked the game concept though, I just wish I had felt cooler going through the game.

          (Maybe the problem is you never go through a long training/newbie stage like in a longer game, so you — well, I — never get good enough to look cool.)

    2. Tektotherriggen says:

      Never played MiE, but I wonder if Portal has proved that 1st-person-platforming is not only possible, but can be great?

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        Well Portal is more of a puzzler than a fps platformer, because most of the time you are trying to solve puzzles and not trying to run as fast as you can while not dying.

        1. Tektotherriggen says:

          True, but play regularly involves a sequence like: jump through portal > emerge in distant part of level, in the ceiling, at a completely different angle > spin in mid air to find your bearings > shoot a portal at your destination, and another just ahead of you where you are about to hit the ground.

          That’s some pretty involved spatial judgement happening there. Admittedly, you never have to time a jump to a split second while charging towards a cliff, but I’ve always found that the least interesting part of platforming. I can see that would be harder in first person, but to compensate, the camera won’t try to murder you by changing angle at the last moment (which even classics like Psychonauts got wrong).

          1. 4th Dimension says:

            Perspective changes would have probably been more difficult if Portal was played in as a TPS. Also FPSness of Portal allowed greater precision of shooting portals. As I said Portal NEVER asks you to perform PRECISE and timed jumps from FPS perspective. That simply wasn’t it’s thing and it even disabled all fall damage so it would eliminate most of the problems associated with traversing their levels and allow the player to focus on the puzzling.

            Mirror’s edge on the other hand is ALL about movement, timing and performing rather precise jumps from FP perspective.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So how weird is it that ea has two games with ME initials?And soon they will have two games with ME2 initials.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Aye – although I guess when you’ve churned out this many bloody games, certain combos are likely to recur (although admittedly around a third of that giant list seems to be roster updates for one licensed US sport or another).

      Blizzard and their odd apparent obsession with H & S I find a bit more strange. (I’m guessing there won’t be a Diablo 4 – it’ll be Diablo:HellSpawn or somesuch.)

      PS Oh, and it’ll apparently be MEC rather than ME2, which’ll help people confuse it with MEA, particularly if and when they get around to releasing an MEB in one or other series…

  5. 4th Dimension says:

    I am one of those crazy people that didn’t have much of an issue with first person aspect. I did die a LOT but I never blamed the perspective much. Also after a while you get used, and you start having a feel where the edge ends based on Faith’s speed and how much did you travel since it dissapeared below the bottom of the screen. Still I died a LOT, but it didn’t bother me because when the plan comes together it’s BEAUTIFUL. I’m also generally terrible at anything that requires any level of twitch so I have much higher margins of failure.

    As for combat, on easy there are only like 2 (possibly 3) fights where you are highly discouraged of simply running past the guards and punching them out is not simple.
    The first is during one of the earliest levels where the chopper is chasing you and you arive at a balcony with like 2-3 SWAT guys and you have to jump up and grab a pipe and climb up it to the next level. Since Faith is slowest when climbing pipes you are VERY likely to be full of bullet holed by the time you are close to the top and will die there.
    I passed it by beating the crap out of the cops there (with my fists) until only one remained and went for it.

    The second is in the last room before the final “boss” fight, where you have to destroy the servers AND they maliciously put a HEAVY machine gunner on a narrow ledge that goes across the floor of the level. If you try simply to run at him he will scythe you down. If you lure away only him the others will scythe you down firing form the floor.
    In the end after MANY reloads I managed o do it “peacefully” in my recent play through by first running straight at the servers and letting the cops kill them by shooting at me and missing. Than I had to painstakingly stalk and knock out the cops one by one. I think I let the machine gunner alone since by that time he has moved off the ledge. And then I ran for it and got out.

    If you are not of the peaceful disposition I guess you would have fount it much more easier because disarming the guards is relatively easy if you win the the QTE.
    But combat is still boring as fuck compared to the running even if I got proficient at unarmed punching out the guards. The trick as far as I remember was to change the kicks and never go straight in. Like start with a jump kick, than ball kick and than jump kick again or something.

    1. Flip says:

      You can easily avoid the fight on the balcony by jumping onto one of the air conditioners on the wall. You might have to jump and then hold shift to curl up though.

    2. karln says:

      I find the most reliable way to time jumps off of ledges is to keep the edge in view, ie. gradually look down as you approach so that you can see the edge right up until you hit jump, then you can look up again to see where you’re going.

      Feels much better (to me) than just trying to ‘feel’ how long it takes Faith to reach the edge.

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        That would certainly work. But it felt wrong to me to look down while jumping. So I developed a feeling for it. And I was correct most of the time. For example in the waterworks section Josh played I rarely missed my jump and walked over the ledge while jumping.

    3. Hermocrates says:

      on easy there are only like 2 (possibly 3) fights where you are highly discouraged of simply running past the guards and punching them out is not simple

      It’s definitely 3 on hard difficulty, if I remember correctly. The third one I remember is running through a “parking garage” type area on the boat. You could run through most of those, but there was one such area with a hatch you had to open, and on hard mode they will mow you down before you can get it open unless you take them out.

      Doing my Pacifist run on hard mode was the dumbest thing I ever did, and I wouldn’t wish such a playthrough on my worst enemy.

      1. I played exclusively pacifist on both normal and hard difficulty. The only real change seemed to be that I had to slide-kick every enemy on hard as opposed to simply punching them on normal.

        The problem for me in Mirror’s Edge was the remarkably dull soundtrack. I appreciate the atmosphere it sets in the nice puzzley areas, but as soon as a chase or combat started up… there didn’t seem to be much change. Turning the in-game music off and replacing it with Pendulum (In Silico) certainly helped out and I enjoyed the game much more following the change.

      2. 4th Dimension says:

        Oh yes that parking lot. Even on easy I had to do quite a lot of taking down and punching people to be able to clear it successfully.

  6. Lunokhod says:

    Man I would love to see a whole season of spoiler warning on Mirrors edge

  7. 3:12 – Was “Mavis Beacon” pronounced “Mavis Bacon” intentionally, or did the person speaking actually think the last name of the character was actually “Bacon?”

  8. Awetugiw says:

    Too bad Chris wasn’t there (at least, not in the parts that I watched so far). He would finally have a good excuse to use his favorite word again!

    After all, creating a sense of movement is pretty much the one thing Mirror’s Edge is really good at.

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      Huh, I didn’t know Campster had a blog with content other than Errant Signal videos, despite having watched most of his video content. Campster, you need to promote yourself better!

  9. Tuskin says:

    I have about 40-50 hours in battlefront, and I like it.

    Maybe I’m just weird.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Aye – I used to happily play hours upon hours of Star Trek: Voyager Deathmatch with no internet connexion; i.e. against very basic bots. I’ve not played it myself, but I’ll bet Battlefront is quite a bit better than that! :D

  10. Grudgeal says:

    Geez, what is this lady *made* of? If I tried even a tenth of the stuff she does my internal skeleton would have ended up mostly external, and entirely broken.

    I mean, sure… Video game. But I’ve never been shot, or shot anyone, so I have no real-life reference on how bulletproof people usually are and it’s easier for me to accept artistic license on that. But I *have* gone jogging and fallen off things, and what she does looks horribly painful.

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      If you condition your body properly and know how to land your body can take quite a lot of punishment. Also the additional endurance is here for gameplay reasons and you are limited in movement to simple moves that can be bound to a controler compared what your actual body would do.

  11. SlothfulCobra says:

    I really like the principal Mirror’s Edge had of mostly being about running away instead of killing legions of dudes. It’s a shame they didn’t make it work better.

    Of course, I’m not that into the whole parkour thing. Games are still going wild about parkour, but if it’s not an open world, it mainly translates into finding the parkour-able object to parkour on, and in those games I haven’t seen parkour be much more involved than hitting the parkour button to parkour.

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