The Lurker

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posted by ajf on 2009-08-26 at 08:15 pm

What is it about Mirror's Edge that inspires people to defend it on such contrived grounds? A lot of reviews acknowledged the game's potential but called out its flaws — in particular, that the game is both repetitive and very short (a very unfortunate combination).

The first aggravating essay I encountered about the game is Persuasive Games: Windows and Mirror's Edge, which argues that these mundane concerns are not sufficient to respond to this game. In fact, such failings somehow become virtues because asking that a game does exactly what its player expects risks eliminating the possibility that it might offer a new way of understanding the world.

In other news, down is up.

And again, today Digital Déjà Vu somehow argues that being forced to replay the same sequence of game over and over again is not using checkpoints as a crutch to string out more play time from as little original level content as possible, but an opportunity to realise a time travel fantasy: whenever we lose, we get to go back and try again, never having to live with failure or regret.

Buerkle even compares the experience to Groundhog Day

There's something immensely pleasurable about this experience - going back and reliving the same moment over again. And over again. And over and over, until I get it right. It's Groundhog Day.

— which suggests that he has forgotten about Phil Connors' innumerable suicide attempts. (Note to the author: in Groundhog Day, we're watching Phil; when we play a game, we are Phil. If I want to kill myself, the game is a failure.)

More importantly, he misses the point that the pleasure of replay only comes when you want to play again. I've greatly enjoyed replaying Deus Ex several times over the years; it's a classic, and every time I constant find something new or something brilliant that I'd forgotten. Repeated failure, on the other hand, is nowhere near "immensely pleasurable". It turns a game into a chore.

Yes, it's satisfying to beat a frustrating game despite its flaws. But that experience doesn't make turn those flaws into virtues.

Related topics: Rants Games Mindless Link Propagation

All timestamps are Melbourne time.