previewed on PC
FPS genre revised, finally
Since it was introduced to us several years ago with DOOM, the FPS genre has gone from strength to strength. We’ve seen refinements of the core concept, such as Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4, and we’ve seen intriguing riffs on the ‘shoot everything’ mentality that the genre is so often associated with, such as the incredible Portal. But one thing has remained constant; in FPSs, you are the character you play as. Sure, in Halo you’re Master Chief, and in Call of Duty 4 you’re Soap McTavish, but you never really get the impression during gameplay that these people are anything more than floating guns, occasionally with legs. DICE and EA have seen this, and realised how much it’s holding the genre back. Thus, they decided to make a game that shows us that if a game is first person, we should actually become the character and be aware of their presence, rather than simply control them and dictate their actions. They needed a special kind of game to do this, a unique title which would open everybody’s eyes. And Mirror’s Edge just might do this.
Faith and a .45
Cue Faith. She’s not your typical video game heroine, in that she doesn’t have breasts big enough to engulf many smaller animals of the world. What she does have is a distinctive look, with her tattoos and punky clothing making her immediately intriguing as a character. As colourful as Faith is, however, the world more than counterbalances that individuality. The world you play in in Mirror’s Edge is a dystopia in its truest form. It’s a lot like George Orwell’s ‘1984’, in that it’s a world where those who choose to submit have an easy life, albeit an empty and meaningless one. It’s also a world where those who choose to fight against the corrupt government are in for a life of fleeing, action and constant double-crossing and paranoia. And fleeing makes for a good video game, DICE tell us. And judging from Mirror’s Edge, we’re inclined to believe them.
In Mirror’s Edge, Faith is real. You can look down and see her legs, which have wonderfully realistic animations, and you can see her arms as well. Begin to run, and she’ll start out slowly, her breathing even and her speed steady. But run for longer, and her legs will start to pump as if she’s running the London Marathon for real. She’ll start to breath faster and shallower breaths, and eventually she’ll be flat our sprinting. But stop the run at this point, and she’ll skid to a dramatic halt, her arms going out to steady herself. DICE have done an incredible job of turning Faith into a living, breathing (God, how PR guys love that phrase) character, rather than a cardboard cut-out with a gun and, occasionally, legs.
Hop, Skip and Jump
But don’t just let me ramble on. A DICE representative summed it up pretty neatly, saying, "At this time, we are not revealing anything more than the fact that we are changing the way that players are able to move in first person. No more restrictions, no more being blocked by simple barriers such as walls and fences. We want to enable the player to move like a real person, with the ability to run, jump, vault and slide in a way that has never been seen before in a first-person game."