Mirror’s Edge takes place in a futuristic utopia under the control of a totalitarian government. Communications are heavily monitored, making couriers like Faith, the game’s protagonist, a vital part of society; especially those who would rather Big Brother not know what they’re up to.
Right off the bat, Mirror’s Edge grabs you with its sleek look. Though it looks like any other first-person game based on screenshots, seeing the game in motion gives you a completely different appreciation for what is happening on the screen. Camera movements are directly tied to Faith's movements, causing the camera to bob as she runs and spin during somersaults. Faith's arms, legs and body are also visible during most movements.
Movement is a key gameplay component and one of its more unique elements. Faith’s core move set is based on parkour and free running, which are based on moving from one point to another as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you’re not familiar with either, there’s a fair chance you’ve at least seen a video of either on YouTube, usually of someone running and jumping between walls and ledges like a caffeine-hyped spider monkey. These are the same types of moves that Faith can perform during the game. In addition to wall-runs and wall-jumps, she can also walk across thin pipes, slide under objects and leap between rooftops in one jump.
Besides movement, another of Faith’s “tools” is "Runner's Vision", a sort of “instinct” mechanic that highlights the best possible path in red. For example, certain pipes or ledges are highlighted in red, indicating the correct path through that particular part of the level. These markings make up the game's puzzle elements and encourage constant movement.
As demonstrated by the demo, momentum is another important factor in the types of moves Faith can perform. In order to maintain a constant speed, moves need to be chained together in a smooth, uninterrupted motion. At one point, Faith needed to escape to a ventilation shaft that was clearly out of reach. Using her momentum, she was able to run up a wall then leap to a ledge and jump to the vent with just her arm strength. Again, all of this is done in first-person and comes off so well that it may induce motion sickness in some players.
Combat also plays a role in Mirror’s Edge, though it is possible to go through the entire game without firing a shot (you’ll even get an Achievement for it). After delivering her package in the demo, Faith was assaulted by a group of guards with guns. Although Faith has a number of moves that can disarm opponents that were shown earlier, fleeing proved to be the better option. The only possible escape route was a ledge a few stories below Faith, but even she wasn’t foolish enough to take that sort of plunge. Then a helicopter showed up sporting a set of red landing bars that Faith used to lower herself just enough to reach the ledge.
Mirror’s Edge is easily one of the more stylish and unique games being shown at E3. The visuals look great and the action is unlike anything else on the market.
Mirror’s Edge comes out later this year.