Faith is a runner. In a city run by a totalitarian government that watches everyone, she runs across rooftops and delivers packages. When she attempts to free her sister from the clutches of the corrupt state, she is pursued by armed forces. Now she must run to survive, and there's no time to look back.
Mirror's Edge may look like a first-person shooter, but it's an action adventure game through and through, with much greater emphasis on evasion and fluidity of movement than marksmanship. The city rooftops are your playground, littered with obstacles to overcome, and making your way across them as quickly and efficiently as possible is the game's main goal. To guide you, Faith's Runner Vision makes targets appear bright red, giving you an idea of your destination and leaving you to figure out the best route.
Visually, the game is stunning. The city is dominated by the colour white. Reflective surfaces gleam in the sunlight and primary colours jump from the screen as you enter buildings and subways during later missions. Faith's movement is brilliantly realised, giving you a true sense of momentum as she builds up speed and soars between skyscrapers. This sense of connectivity with Faith is pivotal in making the innovative concept at the heart of the game work.
The control scheme is simple and intuitive, and most players will find themselves performing incredible feats of agility within minutes. Movement is assigned to the left and right sticks, much like most other first-person games, while upwards movement, such as jumps, scaling walls or wall-jumps, is performed with the L1 button and downwards movement, such as crouching, sliding and rolling, is assigned to the L2 button. This simple system makes getting around easy; the challenge comes from linking these moves together, building up speed and evading the game's ruthless enemies.
You discover very early that if the enemy has you in their sights, you probably won't survive - especially on the harder difficulty settings. Therefore, running away is almost always the best option. There are some thrilling chases, where you have helicopters and armed guards hot on your heels and a labyrinth of ramps and pipes between you and safety.
Living on the edge
Occasionally, confrontation is unavoidable, and in those situations, Faith is as quick and agile as she is across tarmac. You can punch and kick, but doing so is ineffective against an armoured guard, so you can also disarm an opponent and use their weapon against them. Guns can then be kept, but they slow you down, and therefore are only really useful as a temporary aid - running is almost always the best way out of a sticky situation.
We either fight or flee under duress, and it's refreshing to play a first person game that focuses on the latter; especially one that is so visually striking. Mirror's Edge is an exhilarating adventure that captures the thrill of the chase. Once you start, there's no looking back... or down.