When The Trailer for Mirror's Edge hit the internet, DICE freely admitted they were pleased by the public's reaction. There were, however, accusations of prerendering from the predictable blood clot of cynics. Being taken on a tour of two levels, they're obviously keen to prove that the action was real, rather than some conniving plan to trick the internet into an unjustified gush.
Mirror's Edge is beautiful - from the cutscenes, which take place in both 2D animation and chunkily stylised motion-captured 3D - to the in-game depiction of a crisp, clinical city which isn't as sci-fi or fictional as you might assume it is.
"It's a city that doesn't exist, but it's a contemporary city," explains O'Brien, the game's senior producer. "We've taken things that are happening in the world, whether it's social, political or architectural, and combined them into one place."
The game consciously distances itself from far-future concepts and military dictatorships, instead using a nanny state that monitors the flow of information, and gets shirty when data gets out And here, shirty means "attack you with helicopters".
You play Faith, one of the city's runners - a courier who transports valuable information around the city, under the always-sniffing hoses of the authorities. She's aware of the dangers of her job - to spend your working day launching yourself off pristine bluewhite surfaces and performing absurd acrobatics, you have to be. The dangers were driven home when her sister was murdered. This all builds up as election posters adorn some of the buildings, bellowing the name Callaghan from shiny glass buildings while cutting workers in a dozen offices from natural light A safe bet is that he's a shady sort with a lot to hide. A slightly less safe bet is that he bummed a zebra.
The classic run-and-jump games Prince of Persia and Tomb Raider are played in third-person, so it's immediately strange to have a game like this played through the eyes of the protagonist What's also odd is that it feels so right - with Faith's hands coming into view as she sprints, and emphasis split three ways between acrobatics, puzzle exploration and the deliberately understated combat.
That's not to say you won't have access to guns - "We're men, we're stupid, we like guns," admits the unnamed man playing through the demo levels. But they're not just lying around - you have to wrestle them from your enemies. There's no ammo, either - and killing someone with a gun then walking over them won't magically refill the one you're using. As if that wasn't enough, substantial weaponry will hinder your moves - meaning you'll soon have to leave that shotgun behind. Behind the stylised superpowered jumps and crisp, cartoon aesthetic, this is a bold move towards reality.
Reality is also evident in the level structures. A massive cylindrical level may seem like a fantastical futuristic structure design built purely to show off Faith's free-running skills - but it's based on a real-life Tokyo storm drain. The inspiration for the whole game's locations is rooted in real places, with a lot of research having gone into places that would be visually impressive and could provide a solid puzzle-platforming challenge for Faith.
The controls have been tailored to suit the new perspective in this 3D acro-platformer, and are so streamlined they're virtually featureless. Press one button and you'll jump, climb, or do many of the other skyward activities that are associated with up. Press another and you'll power slide, or parachute roll to avoid damage from a high fall. The trick is in the timing and the real skill comes from chaining moves together with wall walks and tightropewalking. Eventually, you'll pull off satisfying combos that become essential as the buildings get progressively more challenging.
Mirror's Edge is a visual smack in the gob, and if it's as much fun to play as it is to watch one of the men who made it run around two of the levels, then we'll have a massive, gleaming hit on our hands.
Hello down there
The niceties of unarmed combat
Runners travel light so Faith's combat relies more heavily on her gymnastic skills than her ability to carry guns, no matter how B or F the G is. All that running and jumping around must really tone those legs - so it really does make sense that she overcomes people by wrapping her thighs around their face. It's probably the reason they decided on a female protagonist - GoldenEye would have been slightly less arousing for the crush fetishists out there if neck-snapping Xenia Onnatop had been played by Nicholas Lyndhurst But then, you could probably say that about any of the most popular erotic films -none of which would benefit from Lyndhurst standing around with an over-full shopping trolley, looking like he's too embarrassed to ask where he parked his car.
And do we detect in the eyes of that man below who's dressed a little bit like a ninja, that at the edge of his mind, this is how he wanted to die? And look at those eyes. If I didn't know better, I'd say that a single tear of happiness and final, contented resolution is running down his cheek, from eyes that I can only describe as laughing.
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode