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PSU First Look: Mirror's Edge

29 February 2008

At last weeks Game Developers Conference, EA DICE gave a special presentation for a new PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 title called, Mirror's Edge. Simply put, Mirror's Edge is a first person platformer where players assume the role of a renegade woman named Faith. While the government tightly controls the city, underground radicals use Faith and others like her to deliver secret messages by hand, leaping rooftop-to-rooftop and dodging government officials. Click here to see the latest Mirror's Edge screenshots!

The lead character Faith is a rigid youth, raised by the streets. After losing her parents in a government take over, Faith becomes a "runner", a secret messenger who transports packages and notes from one group to another. Sadly though, DICE went into very little depth about the game's storyline and the background behind Faith, but my impressions were that the game has taken a few pages from Fahrenheit 451 (for those of you into movies, think Equilibrium)

Now even though Mirror's Edge may steal tidbits for its overall storyline, I have to say it's refreshing to see gameplay that's new and different. As a "runner", players will use a total of two buttons to make their way through the city maze, jump and crouch. Similar to Assassins Creed, multiple acrobatic moves and stunts can be performed with the use of only two buttons. To leap fences or climb, players simply run to the object and click jump. Then to slide or roll, players need only to hit crouch. Depending on the momentum or the objects that are near, Faith will perform different animations to pass obstacles.

During the presentation, the developers played some of a mission for us, showing how combining moves and keeping speed will allow for Faith to perform stunts quicker or in certain cases leap further. Also during the gameplay session DICE stated how Faith will not use weapons very often, that players need to be more dependent on surviving and using the environment to get away, than fighting.

In one particular scene, a news helicopter spots Faith, alerting security officials to her position. Soon after she is seen, men with guns appear on the rooftops, chasing and shooting at the young renegade as she tries to escape. When combat is necessary, players can use the two action buttons to perform pre-determined disarmament animations, either knocking the official out, or killing them.

Lastly, as part of the controls, players will be able to utilize a slow motion mechanic to time longer jumps or perform multiple stunts better. When being chased, things can get intense and if players are not careful they can mistime a jump and fall to their deaths. This feature allows for gamers to slow time, look around before taking the leap, and time their landings to keep the momentum going.


When it comes to gameplay, imagine Mirror's Edge as a title very much inspired by Parkour. Watch the video below to get a better idea of what players will be doing across sky-scraper rooftops.

Now, one thing I would also like to point out is how the first person camera looks and feels. Mirror's Edge feels very different from other titles in the genre. Unlike F.E.A.R. or Resistance where the player has a gun in view, and vision remains static, Mirror's Edge gives the player the feel of actually looking through Faith's eyes. Players will see her hands and arms flailing through the air, and her feet clambering up air vents or crashing down when landing from a high drop. The camera shifts too, giving sense of motion and realism.

Positives:
- Refreshing gameplay that’s both familiar and unique in it's own way
- Draw distances are amazing and nice hi-res textures
- Players can use both interior and exterior parts of buildings
- Great storyline so far

Negatives:
- Currently the developers have paths set out that glow red so players know exactly where to go. I feel like this makes things too easy, and players should be able to explore and find their own paths to objective points.
- No weapons? Using punch and kick may feel monotonous after a while.
-City seems a little dead, apparently there will be pedestrians and moving cars and city life below...but when you are always on the rooftops, you don't really get to enjoy it.
- Some framerate issues, animations seemed clunky once in a while.

Overall Mirror's Edge looks great. The storyline is intriguing and the controls are unique. It will be interesting to see how EA DICE pulls everything together and what all they have yet to announce and show.

Stay tuned to PSU.com for more information on Mirror's Edge in the future.


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