The Agency Group is my effort to create a Criterion Collection for gaming; the name comes from the definition of "agency" related to choice. Over the next few weeks, I'm planning on daily posts detailing which games I believe should qualify for this honor, preserved for influential classics in gaming. Here's my original post on the subject, which should explain the basic concept in more detail.
I'm happy to finish the second week of the Agency Group - after yesterday's ninth entry, Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee - with the most recent title of this original 2009 class. For the record, I made a conscious decision to not add any newer games to the initial list for sanity's sake; the second class will have games up to 2011 and the third up to 2013. At the time I first started listing games for the Gaming Criterion Collection - as it was then known - I debated which, if any, recent titles to include, and one in particular stood out very clearly due to its phenomenally distinctive aesthetic and fluid, swift, unique and amazingly fun gameplay.
- Released: 2008
- Dev/Pub: DICE/EA
- Platforms: PS3/360
Today's article is going to be structured a bit differently than previous ones, for one key reason: Mirror's Edge is, for me, one of the best possible examples of a game you have to see to understand. I could write paragraph after paragraph extolling the best features of this excellent game but it wouldn't do nearly as much, in this case, as simply showing you this absolutely gorgeous experience...so that's what I'm going to do.
Here's the debut trailer for the game. If at all possible, watch this in HD. Drink it in.
I can testify that the entire game looks, plays and sounds exactly like it is presented in the trailer, complete with the lack of a traditional HUD and full first-person gameplay. The free running and bold, large splashes of color in this clean, white, huge, graphically stunning, almost Apple-esque city aren't just small segments...they are Mirror's Edge. That's what makes this game so special.
The entire game just leaves your jaw slack as you run, jump and damn near fly through stunning vista after stunning vista with remarkable freedom of movement. Main character Faith's free running must be learned, of course, but you grow better naturally over the course of the far-too-short experience. By the time you're experienced enough to jump into the more abstract style of the time-trial challenges, you feel like some kind of Ninja Warrior badass.
Sure, the game also includes a storyline where you have to save Faith's sister and protect the flow of free information, and yes the gunplay leaves a lot to be desired, but Mirror's Edge is about none of those things. It is, much like previous Agency Group inductee Sonic the Hedgehog, about grace and speed, in a sleek and downright beautiful package that never ceases to amaze.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the excellent main theme song, "Still Alive" by Swedish pop singer Lisa Miskovsky. There's just something about video game songs with that title...and this one also fits the game perfectly, showing up every so often and matching the scene. It joins a very organic score from electronic artist Solar Fields that weaves its way through the game, complementing Faith's actions as well as the colors complement her city.
*Thanks to Sol for reminding me about Solar Fields' work.*
Thankfully, after a long five-year wait, one of the most interesting, innovative one-off titles I could think of finally got the sequel it so richly deserved when Mirror's Edge 2 was announced at E3 2013. The sales for the first game weren't great but it's hard to resist returning to such a refreshing world, and mouthwatering early reports suggest the follow-up will be an open world prequel. My mind is already racing at the thought of the secrets and high places you'll be able to explore with next-gen processing power.
And again, watch it in HD. You won't regret it.
This game looks, feels and plays different than anything you've ever experienced in a video game, and executes its main mission with aplomb. That alone makes it more than deserving of a spot in the Agency Group.
You can buy Mirror's Edge on PS3/360/PC - it should still be fairly easy to find at game stores - or on Steam.
To recap the second week of the Agency Group: first up was a psychic playground, then a seminal JRPG trip through time, a speedy mascot's debut and an...odd platformer. Next week, I'm enormously pleased to lead off with the representative from my all-time favorite series.
*Photo/Video Credits to The GAF Collection, Fanpop, EA, Two Men and a Marmot, Wallpoper, CompAction Games, Deaf Gamers, Mirror's Edge Wiki, Girl Gamer, TheMostWanted92 and GamesHQMedia*