GC 2008: Mirror's Edge Preview
Written Tuesday, August 26, 2008 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Mirror’s Edge has really become a focal point for EA’s new action plan since the game was announced way back in July last year. This new action plan revolves around bringing new quality IP’s to the publisher’s catalogue with fresh and innovative ideas. Of course, they’ll be resurrecting and building upon their successful franchises but Mirror’s Edge along with Dead Space are two titles that hinge on this new action plan. They are fresh, innovative and totally unique... Mirror’s Edge is so unique in fact that it even has its own genre, not many games can say that, huh?
This First-Person Action-Adventure (jeez, that's a mouthful!) title throws gamers in to the shoes of Faith. She is a free running, parkour messenger at a time where information is closely monitored and she must take on a mission to free her wrongly imprisoned sister. It might be worth noting that Mirror’s Edge also makes use of the Unreal 3 Engine whilst using a custom lighting solution to create what we see in front of us. Why is it not using their new Frostbite engine? Simple, it wasn’t ready when they started development.
Many people will have seen the bright blue backgrounds and glorious vivid skylines but let me tell you, Mirror’s Edge is so much more than this and we got to see it at this year’s Games Convention first hand. It actually consisted of two parts; a hands on of the prologue scene (you know, the bright blue skies, running across rooftops) and a previously unseen behind closed doors unveiling of a brand new level.
Getting my grubby little mits on Mirror’s Edge was certainly a great experience. The controls are incredibly simple and for the vast majority of time, two buttons will suffice. However, there are three other buttons you will need to master. The two main ones are the Left Bumper which controls the up movement; namely the jumping and pulling up, and then there is the Left Trigger which was described as being used for "down" functions; simply put, sliding, rolling to cushion falls and lifting legs when jumping high barriers and the like. The other three are simply; punch (Right Trigger), reaction time (X button) and hint (B button).
The game is all about timing. It really does matters when going for big jumps and you need to time the rolls sometimes when you land to stop Faith from hurting herself, if you don't, she'll be a beef patty before you know it, but more importantly, if you don’t, you'll lose speed. You need to get your route right.
There is just something liberating about the gameplay, especially when you link jumps and rolls together and disarm a few foes along the way. As you link more and more together without breaking your stride Faith will pick up more speed and momentum (as shown with a blur effect around the edge of the screen) which is a great feeling. The game’s controls may be simple but they can be hard to master taking in to account timing and perception.
As the action heats up, it is necessary not to dilly-dally, so the reaction time is a great function. It pretty much allows you to slow down the perception of time meaning you can turn that much quicker without losing the momentum you have already built up. It helps push that little extra out of Faith and toggling it on can mean she can pull off sharp turns and grabs she wouldn’t have been able to before.
You do really have to rely on Faith’s manoeuvrability and agility in Mirror’s Edge as often Faith will be severely outnumbered by her foes. Not only are guns and ammo scarce as well, but they also put you at a serious disadvantage by limiting your agility.
The new level we saw way back in some shoebox style cupboard room in the EA press area was, Mirror’s Edge as you’d never seen it before. Gone is the open world, the blue skies and the rooftops. Instead we say hello to some wide open Tokyo storm drain, Chapter 7 we are told, which is about half way through the game. Whilst the area is not exactly as bright as the prologue, artistically, it looks great and has tonnes of character about it. Gone are the bright blues and whites and in come the palette of greens and blacks.
The objective of this level was simple, get to the top. However actually doing it was far from simple. The level itself was a lot more difficult than anything we previously experienced. Throughout the level it’s necessary to link jumps, rolls and slides from a varying amount of different platforms and obstacles while avoiding some pretty intensive sniper rifle. It actually gives the game a much needed sense of variety in terms of the environment but the gameplay is more of the same just a bit more intense which is all good in my books.
Mirror’s Edge looks and feels like it’s shaping up to be a great title. The feeling of the speed and racking up combos of different moves, is something that no other game can really offer you. After playing the prologue, the game has the feel of one of those games that you’ll keep on playing at a particular level till you get a perfect run. A bit like digital crack. As far as the gameplay mechanics and visuals go, Mirror’s Edge has it down. Let’s just hope that they can offer the gamer some sort of variety so it doesn’t get too samey and it has a superb story to suit, but with Rhianna Pratchett doing the story, we have faith... Excuse the pun.
Look out for Mirror’s Edge as it hits the shelves before the holiday season 2008.