With only a week remaining until its North American release on the XBox 360 and PS3, it is time to delve into Mirror’s Edge. We’ve been playing the demo here at the Weiner and we’ve got some pretty interesting stuff to report.
Mirror’s Edge is a new twist on an old genre – it is a first person parkour game. As per Wikipedia:
Parkour (sometimes abbreviated to PK) or l’art du déplacement (English: the art of movement) is an activity with the aim of moving from one point to another as efficiently and quickly as possible, using principally the abilities of the human body. It is meant to help one overcome obstacles, which can be anything in the surrounding environment—from branches and rocks to rails and concrete walls—and can be practiced in both rural and urban areas. Parkour practitioners are referred to as traceurs, or traceuses for females.
Founded by David Belle in France, parkour focuses on practicing efficient movements to develop one’s body and mind to be able to overcome obstacles in an emergency.
The protagonist is a courier named Faith who takes to to the rooftops to deliver important packages in a world where information on the ground is locked up tight. Faith’s world is detailed in shining white with spare primary colors, notably red, indicating your path. That isn’t to say that the game is linear, but instead the bright accents give you a sense of direction when your body is hurling through space.
There is some fighting in Mirror’s Edge, but the action centers on Faith’s movement through the levels. Weapons are generally used to get out of a jam and then tossed, because combat will slow you down too much.
The demo feels solid. The jump buttons are on the shoulders, which gives your motion a more organic feel as you maneuver through the sky. They offer a couple different configurations, but the default has (Jump/Duck-Slide) mapped to the LB/LT and (Punch/Kick) to RB/RT. (Although RB will also do quick turns.) It takes a moment or two of getting used to, and then it really feels smooth.
There is a definite sense of urgency to the missions, which makes it feel even better when you hit your jumps and turns and swings just right. In that way it feels like a well-designed platformer, and the pleasure you derive from play is oddly similar to what you might feel when flawlessly completing a level in a Mario game.
The checkpoint system is reasonable, which is good. You’re going to plummet to your death 20 or 30 times while getting the hang of this thing. The time trials are not nearly as forgiving – the demo’s “qualifying time” of 2:00 will take more than a few tries.
All in all, Mirror’s Edge looks like it has come together well, and shaped up quite a bit from when we saw it at PAX. Check out the launch trailer here and enjoy the game when it comes out next week.