Mirror's Edge E3 Preview: Sweet Flips and Time Trials

Ever since I first glimpsed the game at GDC, I've been hopeful that Mirror's Edge would deliver on its promise of simple-yet-skill-based first-person Price of Persia-esque platforming.

Now that I've actually had a chance to go hands-on with the title, I'm fairly confident that it will end up being one of my games of the year.

In other words, Mirror's Edge is flippin' sweet. The controls are incredibly simple to learn, but the nuances of the gameplay make it rather difficult to master.

During my time with the game, the company noted that the PlayStation 3 edition of the title is leading development of the PC and Xbox 360 versions, and teased details of the game's Time Trial mode.

After noticing the Time Trial option in the game's main menu, I asked if that mode offers new levels or just challenges for existing campaign missions. "We'll see," representative Nick Channon responded with a smile.

Overall, I saw two levels from the game's campaign: the now-familiar rooftop level glimpsed in past footage, and a new, underground sewer level. Both were filled with platforming challenges, and both had multiple routes for various skill levels.

For example, the easy way to get up on the roof of a shed is to jump up a few step-like ledges. The faster, but much harder way, is to perform multiple wall-jumps in the corridor next to it.

Jumping up the ledges, that's pretty simple. There's a context-sensitive "up" button--L1 on the PS3, LB on the Xbox 360, whatever you want on the PC--that has protagonist Faith jumping, leaping, climbing, whatever the situation dictates.

But leaping from wall to wall requires another button: quick turn. It's mapped opposite of "up"--meaning it's R1 on PS3, RB on 360, and customizable on PC. In addition to momentum, wall-jumps also mandate that players tap R1 and L1 in carefully timed succession.

Easy to learn, difficult to master. Fortunately, most of the levels provide both simple and difficult paths.

Of course, there's also a "down" trigger, enabling a whole set of context sensitive moves like slides and rolls. Maintaining Faith's momentum and knowing when to hit up and down represents the core of the game's controls, with the quick jump coming in as more of an advanced technique.

I also had the chance to see Faith disarm a foe and take his weapon into her hands. The only issue? She can't pick up any more ammo from around the level, she can only use what's in the clip, and carrying a gun significantly reduces her acrobatic abilities.

As the game's sprawling levels provide many opportunities, the most obvious choices are painted red, a device developer EA DICE refers to as Runner Vision.

However, a company representative was quick to point out that Runner Vision only provides a general guide to the objective, and not the most efficient path. It can also be entirely disabled, if desired.

Other tidbits revealed by the representative included the fact that EA DICE is performing many tests to help reduce simulation sickness in players. This led to an optional focal point at the center of the screen, which offers a stable point of reference.

Developed by EA DICE, Mirror's Edge is slated for a simultaneous release on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 this winter.

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