Mirror's Edge Preview
When the original Wolfenstein came out, it provided gamers with an entirely new viewpoint that, over the years, has become a staple of the video game industry. First-person shooters are arguably the most popular titles on the market today, and the reason for their popularity is simple: many of them are downright amazing. We can toss out any number of names – Half-Life, Halo, DOOM, etc. – but any avid gamer is well aware of the impact FPSs have had over the past 15 years or so. But what happens when a developer decides to shift the focus from the “shooter” aspect of the genre to the “first-person” aspect? It has been done in the past with mild success, but EA and DICE are seeking to legitimize the absence of insane weaponry for the sake of attempting to provide us with an all-new gameplay experience. Therefore, we’re very excited at the prospect of Mirror’s Edge, which should make an appearance at E3 next week.
Here, we give you a look at the game that…well, that gives us a new look. It’s a courageous project from Digital Illusions, set to be published by a company that isn’t so well known for its courage in the realm of unique or original titles, which is an intriguing fact in and of itself. You’ve probably seen some early screenshots already, which means you’ve laid eyes on that female character: her name is Faith, who is working to clear the good name of her sister. The government has framed her sister for a murder, and because Faith isn’t too keen on that idea and presents a viable threat, the government now has her fixed firmly in their sights. But this woman isn’t an easy target. She’s an acrobat of the highest order, and not even the largest, most intimidating buildings in an expansive city setting can slow her down. But how and why does she have this ability? Well, she’s what’s known as a “Runner;” an individual who frequently carries sensitive material from one point to another, and who must, at all times, avoid detection. Faith is quite good at her job, obviously, and those skills are going to come in very handy for her sister’s sake.
She runs, she flips, she jumps, she slides, she vaults, she scrambles, she does it all. If you’ve seen any of the preview videos that have been floating about, you’ll notice that Faith is often flying across rooftops, which makes perfect sense: if you’re a Runner and you wanted to avoid attention, why use the heavily populated streets below when another option up high is free of traffic and wandering eyes? This is why you need someone with Faith’s ability, and your goal is to avoid altercations. In some ways, this may disappoint some interested gamers because it sounds more like a quiet, stealthy adventure rather than a slam-bang, rockin’ first-person action extravaganza. But while it’s true that DICE isn’t placing the focus of Mirror’s Edge on the combat, you will be forced to deal with surprisingly aggressive hunters throughout the course of your “running.” Faith isn’t untrained in the art of hand-to-hand fighting, even though she won’t be leaping about with automatic weapons and rocket launchers.
Faith can launch her goodly arsenal at an attacker; she can kick weapons out of hands (and yes, grab them for herself), and better yet, she can use the surrounding environment to her advantage. This opens the door for any number of flashy acrobatic maneuvers you aren’t likely to see in any other game, although we are curious about how the development team will approach such scenarios… We’re envisioning something akin to the button prompt mechanic that began with the likes of God of War and Resident Evil 4, but perhaps we may have more interaction and control over Faith’s combat skills. Maybe it’ll have a lot to do with positioning and timing, and we do anticipate a certain degree of freedom. With her diverse maneuvering skill and such a huge backdrop to serve as a battlefield, there should be multiple ways of approaching certain situations. You may not be able to avoid trouble all the time, but if you’re faced with danger, you might be able to devise a plan of attack. No, we don’t anticipate a large amount of strategy, but freedom of choice is always a bonus.
Perhaps in an attempt to immerse the player more into the experience, holding a gun will limit Faith’s acrobatic skill. Basically, all those sweet mid-air things she could do before cease to exist, and she’s relegated to running around in typical FPS mode with whatever weapon she has equipped. Furthermore, when that weapon is equipped, you have no HUD to let you know how much ammo is left, and we’re not even sure if there’s a default aiming reticle. Essentially, this first-person perspective is supposed to be pretty authentic, and if you’d rather ditch the weapons and rely on Faith’s inherent skills, more power to ya. You will zip along following “Runner Vision,” which means any and all environmental objects she can use are highlighted in red, and the path she needs to follow is also tinted red. Yeah, this sounds quite linear, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a blast, right? Besides, in how many other titles have you been able to do any such thing? You may have to make some hard decisions regarding firearms, but last we checked, that kinda qualifies as freedom.
Mirror’s Edge is scheduled to arrive later this year (tentatively slated for November), and from what we’ve been able to gather so far, it could be one of the most unique and entertaining experiences of the new generation. Cross your fingers!
7/10/2008 Ben Dutka