Having Faith in Niko

From playing GTA IV pretty much whenever I’m at home in an attempt to get through it before moving on to Saints Row 2 (and figuring out if the unabashed Naughty Nurse is much more fun than the Rockstar Well-hung Stable Boy franchise of the ages), I found myself thinking some really… weird thoughts that never plagued me in GTA before.

“I wonder if I can jump out this window and live?”

“I can TOTALLY climb up to that scaffolding three stories up” (This was in the water treatment plant)

“Niko, tuck and roll, don’t just rag doll.”

“That rooftop isn’t THAT far away…”

Somewhat naturally, I started thinking about Mirror’s Edge, of which I only played the demo (I don’t have a reason to think that the full console game is any better).  Pun-aside, it’s a fair leap to go from high-profile immigrant/veteran/lover/mercenary to a game that ostensibly is about fairly athletic people delivering messages and jumping around town, but not so much.

My biggest design complaint about Mirror’s Edge is almost crushingly simple: Guns and parkour do not mix.  Combat in Mirror’s Edge is so out of place that it seems like it was added in order to increase Metacritic scores and widespread gamer appeal to prevent it from being some “art house experiment game”.  For me, this is completely apparent in the controls of the game, because there simply shouldn’t be as many as there are.

GTA IV, although complicated in that you have to manipulate at least three things at any given time (Yourself on foot or in a car, your cell phone, and your inventory) on top of learning some ridiculous controls and physics for the vehicles (Helicopter, anyone?), is not as awkward as Mirror’s Edge is to play.

I never felt as if Niko was “out of my control” when I attempted to vault over walls to get away from police as I did when I was trying to do roughly the same actions in Mirror’s Edge.  GTA is predominantly about shooting and driving vehicles.  It doesn’t make sense.  The controls for GTA as lengthy as they are, are also simple.  The only issues I have with the game relate to vehicle physics and the boat controls (Swapping the D-pad for a cycle button to deal with weapons is really awkward).  Playing Mirror’s Edge is an exercise in “I didn’t mean to do that”.  So where did Mirror’s Edge go wrong?

I was writing the whys and realized I was getting too lengthy because it’s somewhat of a complex issue if you haven’t played the game, on top of the perspective I have to set to make my point completely transparent, so I’ll take it over to a new post in a few.

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