A demo for Mirror\’s Edge hit PSN today, so I took it out for a spin.
The demo consists of a tutorial level and what I assume is the first level of the game, that takes place on a series of building rooftops. Incidentally, this is the same level that was shown when the game was revealed for the first time.
Amazingly, I must say, the demo lived up to my expectations. Somehow DICE has managed to craft a first-person platformer that feels right. It reminds me of old-school (read: Genesis) Sonic the Hedgehog games a whole lot, as in there are multiple intertwining routes you can use to navigate the level (although the progression is still very much linear) and there\’s a heavy focus on maintaining momentum through good timing and using it to pull off platforming stunts in the game world.
Where it differs, of course, is in elements like combat (which, again, focuses on disarming and incapacitating your opponents quickly rather than engaging in shootouts with them). Combat is fairly simple, in that you have a single button for melee attacks and another button for disarming. The trick is to combine your melee attacks, jumps/slides and disarming moves in such a way as to get the opponent out of your way as quickly as possible – in other words, to minimise their impact to your momentum.
In addition, there\’s a mode called \’reaction time\’ that lets you slow down time briefly, allowing you to execute maneuvres like frontal disarms or precise jumps with more leeway. This ties neatly back into the core platforming since the ability to use reaction time is granted when you successfully manage to maintain your momentum for an extended period of time.
If I had to nitpick, there are a couple of things I would mention:
- The game uses Unreal Engine 3, meaning that things like dynamic shadows have aliased/jagged edges, which impairs the look of the game for me somewhat. On top of that, while the NPCs are modeled and animated extremely well, they seem rather crap at emoting, much like Mass Effect and other UE3 games I\’ve seen.
- I found it a little tricky to use the right analogue stick to line myself up correctly for precision jumping – this is probably more of a personal preference, though, and I imagine you can tweak the sensitivity settings to get them exactly where you want them.
Overall, though, if the final product manages to maintain the quality of the level design through to the end, this should end up being a pretty damn good game. I imagine time trial nuts (myself included) will have a blast exploring the levels, trying to find that one improvement to their route that knocks precious seconds off their best times.
(Speaking of time trials, the demo also has a time trial mode, but to unlock it you need to have preordered the game on either Xbox 360 or PS3. I\’ve already decided to wait the extra two months for the PC version, so I wasn\’t able to try it out)