What do you get if you mix a platform game with a first-person shooter?
The games industry is famous for relying heavily on safe-bet sequels, familiar franchises and annually updated sports titles, so it’s always refreshing to see something new.
Mirror’s Edge not only provides the gaming world with a brand-new character in the shape of main protagonist, Faith, but it also puts something of a new spin on two old gameplay forms.
The game is set in a totalitarian near future in which everyone is kept under tight control and all communications are monitored. Faith is a ‘runner’ – effectively a human carrier pigeon who is employed to collect and deliver secret packages over the rooftops and under the radar.
This essentially means using a number of parkour-style free running moves to navigate the city’s upper levels undetected, avoiding security forces wherever possible and uncovering clues to a sinister plot that Faith suddenly finds herself embroiled in.
In many ways it’s a classic platform game, as you will spend most of your time leaping from pillar to post in order to reach your destination. While most platform games use a side-on or third-person view, however, Mirror’s Edge is played entirely from a first-person perspective.
First-person games traditionally involve shooting anything and everything that comes your way, but here you’ll only very occasionally find yourself in possession of a weapon (usually upon disarming an opponent). Not only that, but since guns also have limited ammo and tend to slow you down, the violent approach is pretty much actively discouraged.
The good news is that this innovative blend of genres works well in practice, particularly once you get the hang of Faith’s athletic abilities. It all looks and sounds great too, bucking the trend of futuristic shabby chic with a disturbingly shiny, straight-edged vision of urban dystopia.
On the downside, the game is rather short and occasional moments of poor level design can make progress through certain areas frustrating. Also, despite the fact that the PC version of the game has received a few months’ extra development since last year’s console release, we encountered a number of technical problems with the game. Only after scouring forums, downloading patches, updating drivers and, eventually, reinstalling the game from scratch, were we able to get it working satisfactorily.
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Despite the flaws Mirror's Edge is an innovative and enjoyable title
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