Mirror’s Edge (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

The team at EA’s recently-acquired Digital Illusions (or DICE) want to show you something different. It’s a game not quite like any other game because it’s a first-person shooter that lacks a lot of the shooting and really emphasizes the “first-person aspect”.

In a dystopian future, information is controlled by the government. To get around this, people use “runners” – individuals who ignore the chaos of rules & restriction set out by the controlling forces by moving on rooftops, walls, and other areas where people normally wouldn’t go.

You are Faith, a runner who finds herself in a sticky situation when her sister is framed for a murder. Now you’ll find yourself in a sticky situation as you run from rooftop to rooftop, from wall to building while you dodge bullets and try to not fall to your death.

Developed on the Unreal Engine, Mirror’s Edge is an experience unlike any other. About the closest you could say Mirror’s Edge comes to is the early Dreamworks title “Trespasser” but even this falls short. While the graphics are excellent in this stylised world, the amount of art direction really shows as an emphasis on primary colours keeps the user engaged as well as telling them where to go.

The gameplay is for the most part just as good as the well-developed graphics and short of some control issues, you’ll find it easy to get in and run, jump, and slide your way around the various things that keeps your life as a runner on track.

It might sound like I’m praising Mirror’s Edge ridiculously – almost too much – but that’s because of just how good it is.

That said, a patronising checkpoint system and a repetitive level & mission design are two of the main things that let you down. DICE should probably have programmed more checkpoints than they did and quite often you’ll want to rip apart your controller in frustration. Likewise, knowing that the missions generally consist of a little bit of scouting followed by a ton of running sort of puts a dampener on things, especially since you can generally guess what’ll happen in each level as well as the ending.

But put those two things aside and you have a superb game. Mirror’s Edge is really stunning and will probably be one of the best games of the year. Even with sequels upon sequels released this year which improve upon already heralded formulas, Mirror’s Edge shows just how amazing a game can really be if the designers opt to think outside the box.

Rating: ★★★★½