A certain well respected British publication started off their Mirror's Edge review saying that it's "...like a piece of Scandinavian furniture, picked for its perfect blend of form and function, discovered on receipt to have the wrong pieces in the box, ambiguous instructions and too few tools to make it all come together."
Now, while I can appreciate the humour in this - I find it to not only be quite harsh (especially in regards to the game - Mr. Kamprad's company has no doubt proved it's worth to the masses at this point), but also a quite erroneous statement.
From the new world I've heard several game journalist lament over the, "poor" gun-play in the game, saying that it isn't fun and that you need to toss the weapon to regain your optimal mobility. This to me is a moot point, if the gun-play was handled just like an FPS and you could carry one with you at all times, this would be a completely different game. It would be the IKEA-version of Half-Life 2. This game is not trying to be Half-Life 2, or Halo, or Killzone or even Portal even if some people seem prone to draw parallels to last years darling as well.
No, this isn't a shooter, the guns are there to enforce this message, and if you want you can use them as a temporary "power up" although I got much more satisfaction out of not firing them at all.
I should perhaps pause here and point out to those that don't already know, that I myself am in fact Swedish. Just like the developer DICE and that aforementioned flat-to-functional-furniture-fabrication-firm. So, perhaps it could be held that I'm a bit biased, and I won't deny that experiencing Mirror's Edge fills me with a certain degree of national pride. On the flip-side there seems to exist a certain cultural divide that skews peoples' opinions of said game to either loving it or hating.
I'm not saying Yankees and Limeys don't appreciate Mirror's Edge - but that perhaps it is too exotic and strange, too far from the comfort-zone for some that it becomes scary and their minds narrow. Again, I'm not saying that you have to be Scandinavian to appreciate this game, not at all - I have both British and American friends who love it - but I have a feeling that their opinions will pull further in one or the other direction. Personally I am not as strongly touched by the game as they seem to be, I love this game and although it does a lot of new and different things, it still feels very familiar and in some ways traditionally Swedish.
During the last few years the topic of game length and difficulty have come up a lot. Many gamers in my own generation (those that grew up with 8-bit consoles and PC:s in the 80's) now have talked at length about how games where more difficult and unforgiving back then, and how they no longer have the patience to replay a game from the beginning if you aren't able to finish it in one sitting. Also, many say that they appreciate shorter games, that they don't want to have to invest tens or hundreds of hours in one game to see it to completion. In many cases they have gotten their wishes, games have generally become a lot easier and forgiving, and while games are probably on average a lot longer today then 20 years ago, the average length is declining compared to say 5-10 years ago.
But people are never completely satisfied, are they? The contrary argument has come up now and again as well, that many games are just too easy, that you just push a button to win and it's more or less an excuse to show you a bunch of cut-scenes. There's always someone who will complain that a game is too short as well, like the cocky "you'll beat it in one sitting"-mantra often used by people trying to brag about their 1337-gamer skillz...
Now I'm personally no sadomasochistic gamer. I don't appreciate insanely difficult games and won't force myself to get through them. Games like the classic Mega Man series (including this years Mega Man 9) and Ghosts n' Goblins are short-lived on my consoles now a days. But I don't understand those that complain that Mirror's Edge is too difficult, that it is unforgiving and death is all too frequent. I found that except for a couple of places, the checkpoints where well placed and progressing was seldom held up for long on any one section. Only a couple of sections became irritating and in both cases I got stuck because I misinterpreted where I should be going and not because the game was too hard. Now granted, misleading the player is nothing to take lightly either, but that is something else, and in a game that is all about figuring out how to navigate the environment I appreciate the hand-holding being kept to a minimum (glares at PoP).
The sales have unfortunately been pretty poor so far, but EA CEO John Riccitiello had this to say when interviewed by Edge Magazine, "Mirror's Edge is one that was very strongly reviewed, that one's going to go forward" which is encouraging, what is a bit more worrying is his later statement "We're probably going to look into some issues around the design to make sure strong IP is married with strong business." This better not involve balled space marines and BFG:s, or I'm holding the Anglosphere responsible! So I reiterate: