Sunday, February 08, 2009

First Person Showdown - Mirror's Edge is for Suxors, Bioshock FTW!

Catching up on some games.

I finally started playing Bioshock, and Mirror's Edge. I know, I know, I'm pretty late with these games, but at least now I can judge them after all the hype from launch has subsided. Between the two games, Mirror's Edge is my least favorite.

A cool Fan-made, Assassin's Creed gameplay vid demonstrating player freedom. No Red glowing objects required. *You might want to mute the music.

Mirror's Edge to me is like the First-person version of Assassin's Creed, without the versatility, or freedom players have when interacting with the surrounding architecture, that Ubisoft's parkour inspired game is known for. And though Assassin's Creed has it own share of issues, I think the execution of using the environment was particularly well done. For a game like Mirror's Edge that uses parkour as it's gimmick in a similar, (but broken fashion), it falls short when compared to AC, feeling less about the art of parkour, and more about button input. Add to that the poorly designed combat, and endless frustration from the challenge of getting over the games flaws, and you have yourself a good looking, but irritating game experience.

Trailer for Mirror's Edge.

It's a game that relies on accurately chaining together button commands, that if you mess up, you won't be feeling like a parkour superstar. In fact, constant death destroys the whole point of the parkour free running 'flow' that the developers were going for. (It's not as easy as the gameplay videos made it out to be). Dying because the games broken, and not because of the games difficulty setting are two entirely different things.

Expect to die, especially in combat. It's like the developers are saying, 'It's perfectly okay to die consistently, repetition is good, practice makes perfect'. Does it really? For an imperfect game? Sure, if you have the patience to play until you get it right. Mirror's Edge is on a whole other level of frustrating. And I'm a gamer that typically puts up with the challenge. GTAIV, and Bioshock are challenging, but not frustratingly difficult.

Mirror's Edge reminded me of the main character from Final Flight of the Osiris.
Faith? Uh no. It's Jue.

Funny how the main character's name is 'Faith' because it takes leaps of faith to get over the uncertainty of grabbing a bar, or ledge, if you aren't perfectly aligned/centered with it. You have to have pinpoint accuracy, or fall to your death. And though there are some things about Mirror's Edge that would be cool to see other First-person games incorporate, I don't consider the game itself to be a revolution in first-person gaming, or even a 'must play'.

Bioshock on the other hand is...

Rapture = one part Metropolis, one part Gotham City, one part The Abyss, one part Myst. And lets not forget Kubrick's The Shining.

I've recently gone hardcore on Bioshock. I started playing at 5pm Saturday till 2am Sunday, then woke up and started playing again 10am Sunday morning, till 8pm Sunday night, now on Chapter 12. I figured I should be lazy for once spending practically my entire weekend with a good game.

If Batman the Animated series ever had an immersive first-person videogame, Bioshock would be it. Fans of the Bruce Timm/Glen Murakami, animated interpretation of the 90's Dark Knight should know what I'm getting at. Their vision was heavily influenced by New York's art deco vibe of the early twentieth century, the World's Fair, and Fritz Lang's Metropolis retaining many of the cultural quirks of that era in America's history. While Bioshock doesn't feature any caped crusaders, it does have the same dark and psychotic atmosphere akin to stepping into Arkham Asylum, or a circus run by the Joker. Lots of crazies, grotesque imagery, and disturbing voice recordings set in a backdrop of gangsters, flappers, and retro aesthetic. Bioshock is basically an underwater Metropolis, and it's so amazing.

Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis'
The Joker tortures Robin in 'Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker'. Skip to 7:22, to see the sicko at work. It's like a scene out of Bioshock.

Playing Bioshock is like walking through a time warped theme park with sideshow freaks, and carnival attractions. It's immersive, absorbing, eerie, and frightening. For once in a long time I actually freaked myself out when first encountering the Houdini Splicer. I was playing with the lights off too, and in a dark room in the game. I can't remember the last time I reacted that way to a game, and it's an awesome feeling.

Not only are the graphics amazing, but the music as well, definitely adds to the uneasiness of exploring rapture. I'm also a fan of the voice-over in the game, and the excellent recordings that unravel the story. I have a tendency to skip narration and bits of story in other games like an ADD kid or something, but in Bioshock I'm actually interested in learning more about Rapture, and it's inhabitants. I like picking up the tape players!

I'm having a great time with this game overall. So much better than agonizing over Mirror's Edge. Thanks to the peeps fairlyoddgirlfriend, gaian, who sent me xbox messages telling me how awesome the game is. I definitely agree!

Now to finish the game off...

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