Content at a glance:
Mild profanity: There is some profanity, including at least one violation of the third commandment, but it is infrequent.
Reckless themes: The player leaps off buildings and performs some amazing stunts that one shouldn't dare try with your some real training in the art of Parkour (Free-Running)
Lawlessness: Your character breaks the law by being a Runner the police and government agents are the ones that you will be conflict with.
Mild violence and Intense action: Some intense and dramatic fights involving martial arts and guns.
As an avid gamer since the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, I’ve noticed that the vast majority of games fit into either the category of “kids games,” where the emphasis is on content and gameplay that is accessable to children; and “adult games,” that are much more difficult and tend to glorify their violent and ammoral content; with very little in between. For mature gamers like myself, finding a game that is challenging, has believable characters, an engaging storyline, and isn’t based on random violence and/or pointless hedonism has been difficult to say the least.
Thankfully, Mirror’s Edge provides something that is quite a bit more my speed. The player takes the role of Faith, a “runner” in an unnamed North American city. The city had a period of civil unrest several years ago, and now opperates as a “surveilance state,” where all rights to personal privacy have been suspended. The only way to communicate privately is through the runners, messangers who avoid government surveilance by travelling across the rooftops using parkour, or free-running.
Early in the game, Faith discovers that her sister (a police officer) is being framed for the murder of a mayoral candidate. Faith spends the rest of the game using her skills as a runner to unravel the mystery, encountering renegade runners, secret projects, private security firms and a government conspiracy. While the game ends on a positive note, many of the problems go unresolved. This is not really an issue as EA tends to make a franchise of sequels to it’s successful games, so room for a “Mirror’s Edge 2” is welcomed.
The gameplay is notable to the Christian, as Faith’s particular skills and limitations make for a moral dynamic that is rare among video games. Faith is fast and agile, and capable of moving through the game-world with an astounding degree of freedom. She is skilled in the martiual arts, leading to some intense and dramatic fights, but she is also small and carying all but the smallest firearms will slow her down significantly (thereby removing her greatest asset). Combined with the inability to reload the weapons she encounters, this downplays the usefulness of guns. The end result is a rare game that rewards combat avoidance and non-letal confrontation when fighting is unavoidable. This is a far cry from many other games that reward mass death and destruction. The “Time Trial” game mode removes combat from the picture entirely, and is just pure racing against the clock.
There are some issues, however. There is some profanity, including at least one violation of the third commandment, but it is infrequent. The biggest issue for the Christian, however, has to do with how we relate to those in authority. The story of the game seems to support the belief that if a government is unjust or does not work for the benefit of the people, than individuals have the right to defy and/or subvert that government. While I’m not ready to say that this belief contridicts scripture, I will way that it finds more support in western political ideologies than in the Bible. Is it right to violate the law if the law or those enforcing it are unjust? I have no anwer for that right now, but it is a question that this game raises.
While that is an ethical issue, the game raises a more practical issue – mainly for parents whose children may play or want to play this game. The motion in this game is only intensified by the first-person perspective, which makes for an exhilerating experience (though not one for the weak of stomach). Faith’s movement is an exagerated form of the real-world sport of parkour (sometimes called free-running). Younger and more impressionable players may get the idea that this kind of activity may be fun in real life. While there is nothing inherrantly wrong with parkour, it does take quite a bit of training to learn to do safely. If a younger child encounters this game, care should be taken to warn them about the dangers of attempting to copy-cat stunts in the game. This should not be a serious issue, though, as most younger players would probably find the game too difficult to be enjoyable.
All in all, I found the game to be greatly enjoyable. It fulfills the desire for high-speed, high-intensity action with significanly fewer moral issues than most other games on the market.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.
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