Swedish developer DICE is probably best known for their Battlefield series of team-based first person shooters. With Mirror's Edge they have finally stepped away from being the "Battlefield Studio" and produced something decisively original. Mirror's Edge is built around the concept of runners - hired messengers transporting secret documents to avoid interception in a city under totalitarian surveillance regime. EA' 2033 s promotional material carefully painted a vision of futuristic and bright cityscape with runners dashing across the rooftops in the spirit of Parkour.
Unfortunately, Mirror's Edge is a victim of terrible mis-marketing - early screenshots and descriptions sounded a lot like open world game where you could roam the city, freely choosing your route across the roofs to pick up and deliver documents. Videos didn't exactly dispel this idea and the marketing message implied a lot of things that only act as a backstory for the actual game.
You play as Faith, a female "Runner". You receive constant assistance via radio from Mercury, your mentor that stays behind monitoring your progress through the city's surveillance net and guiding you with verbal assistance. Yet there is no open world or jobs to complete - you are strictly limited to following the storyline which has very little to do with the supposed day-to-day life of a Runner.
In fact, Mirror's Edge is essentially a racing game on foot. In each level you have a predefined destination to reach and a track of sorts is laid out for you to navigate. There is some room for experimentation and alternate routes but essentially each level is a run from A to B through a path that is mostly linear. Mercury acts a bit like co-driver in a rally car - his insights allow you to quickly prepare for surprises and pay attention to the right things to stay on the track without missing a beat. To it's credit, the game does embrace the main idea of Parkour - it's all about optimizing your movements and picking the fastest route to reach the end of a level as quickly as possible.
Mirror's Edge Sony Press Conference Trailer
There is some melee combat and you can even pick up a gun and fire off a few rounds but Mirror's Edge is decisively not a shooter. In theory you can finish the game while firing just a single (story-related) shot by just disarming and knocking out your enemies where absolutely needed. Most of the police and guards can be completely avoided - all the enemies have graduated from the Stormtrooper Shooting Academy, so as long as you keep moving and out of open areas you rarely get hit - the hard part is to actually keep moving non-stop when the path gets tricky and you are being fired upon from multiple directions.
The storyline of Mirror's Edge goes "off the promotional message" quite rapidly. It may be that runners deliver documents and messages, trying to stay out of view, but most of the time Faith is just running away from the bad guys that want her dead. It's all related to the story that can be summed up as ordinary and tired - Faith's sister is in trouble and Faith ends up tangling with powerful people and in very short order everyone seems to want Faith dead, leading to the usual bits about uncovering who is behind everything and... well, you get the general idea.
Games: Mirror's Edge
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