Mirror's Edge takes a different approach to the world of the First Person Shooter with the emphasis on running rather than fighting, but does it work? We get our running shoes on to find out.
The first thing you'll notice about Mirror's Edge when you start the tutorial, are the beautiful stunning concrete city vistas set out before you. Crystal clear blue skies offset against a faded white landscape with markings of strong reds, oranges and yellows dotted about the place. Compared to so many "Grey" video games of late - Gears of War anyone? - Mirror's Edge is like a walk in the clouds.
That walk in the clouds mentality is the premise of the game. You play Faith, a "runner" who's trying to piece together a plot thinner than a sheet of paper. In a previous life, by which we mean one that's 5 minutes before you've suddenly found yourself on the run, Faith is like a futuristic DHL courier, delivering messages in a world where "Freedom" has long been eradicated by the wonders of CCTV.
But unlike the courier that turns up on your doorstep without a clue, you not only have some idea, but also the prowess of the villain in the opening scene of Casino Royale. Yes that's right, this isn't a military based shoot-em-up set in an apocalyptic future, it's Parkour coming to a 360 or PS3 near you.
Via a series of controls you get to run, slide and jump your way out of trouble as you do your best to evade the army of "Blues", that's the police, and SWAT hell bent on shooting your cute little bottom.
To help you weave your way through the city, rather than offer anything as crass as a big arrow saying "THIS WAY TO ESCAPE IMPENDING DOOM", the designers at DICE have created a path highlighted with red. Red boards, boxes, pipes, staircases anything really, and at times it's so subtle that you might miss it.
The red highlights work well with enough around to offer you suggestions, but not too many to simply make it a follow the line to the goal objective. What doesn't work so well is unfortunately the core of the game: the jumping.
To say it doesn't work well is probably an over-statement, after all as soon as I finish this review I will be back in front of the 360 playing Mirror's Edge from where I left off, it's just that if you don't like the jumping elements to Tomb Raider or Drake on the PS3, you aren't going to like Mirror's Edge one bit.
Get past those jumps and you'll eventually find some Blues to either outrun or knock out cold. The first couple of encounters are tough as you very quickly realise that you don't have a gun to go in all "guns blazing" like you're in Call of Duty.
Instead you've got to pick them off one at time and run before the rest get wind of what's happened. The nearest thing we can think of to it is playing the Alien race in Aliens vs. Predator on the PC. Cunning and planning your moment is critical otherwise it's back to the last checkpoint.
To help with the lack of weaponry (you do eventually get weapons but they will hinder your running capabilities) you do get a slow mo move that buys you a little more time to swipe enemy weapons away from them, but again it's all about timing and failing to do so means you end up dead.
With stunning vistas and an interesting approach to gaming, what's not to like? Well the downsides are plentiful. The game is incredibly short. Yes there is a time trial offering so you can see how fast you can complete the levels and then compare those times against others, but with a game designed around clearing the levels as fast as you can it's no surprise that you'll get through it quickly.
Then there is the plotline that is, well, pretty pointless. Add that to the rather annoying "put a foot wrong and you're dead" jumping tactics and you might think that Mirror's Edge is one to avoid.
However you would be wrong. It might be short, but Mirror's Edge is still really good with plenty of pace, you'll probably have to go for a run afterwards to slow down.
It's like the boulder scene in Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark: you feel you've got to keep running even when you haven't, and that rush is a good, sometimes panic-ridden, experience. While games like Dead Space require the softly softly approach, this is all out run as fast as you can, and for that reason worth checking out.