Mirror's Edge™

Mirror's Edge developer DICE reckons the marketplace is ready for a sequel to its acclaimed-but-underperforming free-running FPS.

When quizzed by Spong on whether a sequel would find an audience, DICE producer Patrick Liu replied, "I think it's something that people are ready to get into again."

"We see that there's a huge fan following, it's almost like a cult! And we know what strengths we had, and what weaknesses we had in that game. If we were to release a new game, we'd know what to improve and how to reach a broader audience. So I definitely think there's a market there."

Of course, enthusiasm is all well and good, but publisher EA has offered no indication that we're any closer to actually seeing that oft-discussed sequel on shelves.

"We're actively looking at how to bring it back in the right way," announced EA exec Frank Gibeau earlier this year.

"We love that franchise, the DICE guys really created something special the first time around. You've got to have a big idea to be able to do the next one, and that's what we're working on."

Mirror's Edge™

EA has promised it won't force Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit developer Criterion Games to make a game every year.

Instead, with its Need for Speed franchise EA is employing a two-pronged development strategy, alternating between games made by Guildford-based Criterion and Canadian studio Black Box.

Last November's superb entry in the series was Hot Pursuit. This year's entry is Need for Speed: The Run.

This gives Criterion the time to craft November 2012's entry in the racing series.

"The worst possible idea would be to make Criterion build a game every year," EA Games boss Frank Gibeau told Eurogamer at E3 last week. "That would limit their creativity and hurt quality."

Giving Need for Speed developers two years to create games ensures they have the time to make them shine, Gibeau said.

But EA's sharing of technology – The Run is built using DICE's Frostbite 2.0 engine and incorporates Mirror's Edge-style on-foot moments – makes it easier to build new ideas.

"We've designed an alternating strategy in driving for us to continue to build on the high quality we've established with Hot Pursuit and try new things," Gibeau explained.

"But at the same time we can share certain technologies and features. The new Need for Speed is on the Frostbite 2 technology, which allows us to do a lot of things we've never been able to do before. We're using the animation system from EA Sports.

"There's a lot of good sharing of technology and tools that allows us to constantly be on the cutting edge of technology but at the same time get the designers and the artists and the creators enough time to craft and polish a great experience.

"We've tried to get a team to do it every year. You burn them out. You can't do it at the level of quality the market wants now."

Need for Speed: The Run is the first non-Battlefield 3 game to use the Frostbite 2 engine, but EA plans to use it for many EA games in the years ahead.

"The vision is it's breakthrough technology," Gibeau continued. "It does things on a rendering level, on an animation level, on a sound level, that a lot of the middleware and other proprietary engines out there in the industry just can't do.

"It happens in the industry where Unreal will come out or the CryEngine will break through. Frostbite is ours. Frostbite will allow us to do things on next-generation technology we're excited about. The idea is we're going to be able to take that engine and put it into different categories. It's very flexible that way. It lends itself to a great action experience, to driving as well as to shooting."

One game, if EA decides to release it, that could use Frostbite 2 is Mirror's Edge 2, the sequel to the eye-catching parkour-inspired shooter that impressed critics but failed to set tills alight.

"Mirror's Edge was a great IP for us," Gibeau enthuses. "We're continuing to look at it. But the learning from it has been brought to bear.

"There's still hope, yes. We have not killed the IP. We're just trying to figure out the way to bring it back in the right way. You just have to give us the patience and time hopefully to do the right thing."

While we wait, Need for Speed: The Run's on-foot monents, which rekindle memories of DICE's action-packed escape sequences, will have to do.

"The Need for Speed product line reports into Patrick Soderlund," said Gibeau of the comparison. "His studio, DICE, built Mirror's Edge. So there's a lot of cross-learning and experiencing there happening for sure."


Mirror's Edge™

Electronic Arts executive Frank Gibeau has hinted that we could see a new Mirror's Edge game built with the Frostbite 2 engine in the future.

"We haven't killed Mirror's Edge," he told GameTrailers host Geoff Keighley.

"We're actively looking at how to bring it back in the right way. We love that franchise, the DICE guys really created something special the first time around. You've got to have a big idea to be able to do the next one, and that's what we're working on."

Perhaps that new idea might involve Frostbite 2, the spanky new engine DICE is using for Battlefield 3? Perhaps indeed.

"Mirror's Edge, Frostbite 2 - I'm there," said Keighley.

"You'll see that combination, I'm sure," Gibeau replied.

So much for that report back in February that a Mirror's Edge 2 pitch had been rejected. Even then, EA told us the franchise is "still important" as far as they're concerned.

The original Mirror's Edge was released back in 2008, when parkour was still cool. Why not reminisce about the good old times with our recent retrospective?

Mirror's Edge™

Until five or six years ago, I had never heard of Parkour. My sister, a professional in the field of athletic strength and conditioning, first described it to me as something of a balletic aerobic sport with all the complexity and conditioning of a martial art -one used for clambering up the side of a building in seconds, or clearing two-story jumps without any messy bone breaking.

I still remember how incredulous I was when she acquainted me with David Belle videos on YouTube: this was astounding, real-life vertical platforming, performed by an actual flesh-and-blood human being. How was it even possible for someone to manipulate their body like that?

Even today, it's still marvellous to watch these type of athletes effortlessly Nate Draking-themselves up or across or through urban infrastructure, unhampered by either physics or basic human limitation.

It didn't take long for the art (I don't know how else to classify it) to develop a greater pop-cultural presence. It appeared in Luc Besson's District B-13 (which starred Belle) and 007 reboot Casino Royale, and played a part in the core design for Assassin's Creed.

Yet it wasn't really until Mirror's Edge came along that gamers got their first (and really, only) taste of a game which completely embraced this so-called art of movement.

DICE took the template of a first-person shooter and created a game that was less about the worn, combative conventions of the genre and more about running. The result was an experience as striking as it was divisively original. Still, when the first reviews hit, it was obvious that a lot of people didn't really "get" it.

Probably my favorite complaint about Mirror's Edge from these types is the harping on about the shooting mechanics. You've probably heard the criticisms: The guns feel too heavy. They're clunky and inaccurate. Shooting isn't fun. The game is too hard.

These are somewhat ancillary to the other gripes about the game's trial-and-error design and what is sometimes frustratingly vague linear path. Whinges like these miss the point; Mirror's Edge is about as much a first-person shooter as Portal is, and the supposed inability to find your way through any given scenario is little more than a blithe dismissal - whether intentional or not - of the game's true design strength.

I won't argue that Mirror's Edge is an easy game. Its level layouts and learning curve require you to flex your mental muscles within the game world in order to figure out just how the heck you're going to scale what seems to be an impossible height, or sprint through an army of Blues with as little direct confrontation as possible.

But if you're treating it like a first-person shooter (for anything other than a speed run) and ignoring its conceptual basis - and therefore the fact it's an experience based around the Parkour's tenets and the mantra of momentum - well, you're doing it all wrong.

This probably isn't apparent to most players at first, although it should be. Unlike more typical first-person fare, Mirror's Edge doesn't just put a gun in your hand and send you on your merry way. (In fact you will never have a gun with you unless you forcibly take one from an enemy.)

Instead you're treated to an obstacle course set across the stark, monochromatic rooftops of the sprawling urban dystopia that is the alpha and omega of Mirror Edge's world.

As a Runner, Faith is an underground information smuggler. She constantly skirts the totalitarian law and its omnipresent philosophy of censorship; it makes sense that these network "criminals" would function and operate between the cracks of society, in remote places that are easiest to quickly navigate and move through on foot.

The only combat training involves learning a few basic melee strikes and effective defensive disarms; otherwise it's about working out how to slide and jump over obstacles, and perform tricky wall runs, safety rolls, 180-degree jumps and the like.

From the get-go, Mirror's Edge tells the player how to best use (and maintain) a constant speed, moving through the environment as quickly and fluidly as possible with the least amount of resistance.

And like stubborn mules, most of us willfully didn't get it at first. Distilled down, the point of the training level is really an exercise in breaking established design paradigms, when all we wanted to do subconsciously was play the damn game like a first-person shooter. (You can't at this point-there aren't even any guards in this level.)

Although Mirror's Edge does a great job of initially hitting you over the head with what you should be paying attention to, chances are all that immediately goes out the window once you start in with the game proper.

Mirror's Edge has what most would call a high learning curve, only instead of the difficulty ramping up right off the bat, you need to have a certain degree of finesse to even to make it through the first level.

Like most people, I was intrigued by the idea of a first-person game based around platforming, but still found the game challenging when I actually began playing it. I missed jumps. I had no momentum. I spent a lot of time looking at the scenery, wondering what I should be doing to get past whatever part I was stuck on.

The first few times I encountered Blues, I instinctively tried the disarms only to find the weapons felt extremely sluggish, adding what felt in the game like 50 lbs. of dead weight to Faith's fleet-of-foot presence. I lost count of how many times I sent Faith plummeting to her untimely and aurally sickening death, half out of miscalculated judgment, half mistaken trial-and-error.

The insane number of times you die when starting out is the threshold which most people who give up on Mirror's Edge reach but do not surpass. If my personal list of mistakes wasn't enough proof, there's a definite procedure to the game, even though it feels frustratingly stop-and-go when you first go at it.

Although it may not seem like it, the very concept seems to trigger some subconscious response in most players that goes against the grain of almost everything we've all learned about video game conventions over the years. Without a practical basis of comparison, DICE's design has the effect of a creating a psychological stumbling block that's hard enough to negotiate, let alone master.

Undeterred, I pressed on. I continued to die (not a small amount), and levels became progressively more difficult to solve. Even Runner's vision, the slick visual cue that paints nearby Parkour-able objects a rich, glossy red, only gave me a vague idea of which way to go. There were times I wanted to quit, thinking this brilliant idea was perhaps nothing more than a failed experiment.

What I didn't realise then is that what I was experiencing was normal - a necessary part of the Mirror's Edge process, if you will. Obviously there are innumerable games that require players to figure out the flow of the gameplay before they can ever hope to be truly successful.

Mirror's Edge takes that idea and runs with it. Aside from death itself, the most obvious case of this is Runner's vision: DICE doles this out sparingly, showing you where you may springboard to gain speed, or what pipes you can climb up. It's a trail of design breadcrumbs for you to follow, and there are still several instances where it's not going to immediately feel like enough.

There's an ingenious methodology behind all this, however. For all the times you come up against a building that looks improbably scalable or don't know what direction you need to go when faced with a number of building tops, you're slowly and perhaps painfully undergoing an initiation.

The developers shrewdly refuse to spoon-feed you the answers to the architectural puzzles of their level design, forcing you to adapt to your current in-game situation and shaping your mind into a different mode of action. Even the hint button, which sporadically points Faith's gaze in the direction of your current goal, isn't helpful when it comes to specific navigational issues.

In essence, the entire time you're playing Mirror's Edge the game is not teaching how to think like a Runner, but how to be a Runner.

It's not a process that will happen at the same pace with any given player, but when it does, the effect is nothing short of extraordinary. Suddenly everything in the game word just clicks; you start to move faster and more efficiently, and can more skillfully navigate a given situation.

The most amazing effect is the way you begin to visualise any random bit of architecture and discern exactly how it's navigable. Much like Neo is able to "see" the Matrix for the first time when he ascends to (for lack of better terminology) enlightenment at the end of the first film, the level design in Mirror's Edge opens up once you gain your personal Runner's vision.

Obviously this doesn't work with every obstacle in the game - crafting a completely open-ended experience with Mirror's Edge's end goal in mind would be a nightmare for level designers and in-game logistics personnel alike. You may still surprise yourself by finding alternate routes and solutions to puzzles.

In my own experience, I was already floored enough after I realised that I could look at a high structure with scaffolding and know I had run up this wall, spin around in mid-air, use momentum to jump forward, move from this platform to a higher one, turn to jump again and so on.

Once you reach this experiential plateau, Mirror's Edge almost becomes an entirely new game. The first-person perspective takes on an entirely different level of meaning, heightening your senses and adding a visceral edge to movement.

Speed, too, becomes a quantifiable factor (albeit one that's sometimes hampered in the heavily-indoor later levels) - it is an exhilarating experience to simply execute complex strings of moves, and doing so quickly is just icing on the cake.

For me, this also meant embracing flight from the Blues. I hated the few times when the developers forced me into direct confrontations, though eventually I earned the trophy for beating the game without firing a weapon (only worth a silver, sadly).

One my favorite memories is sprinting down a long, multi-level set of stairs toward the end of the game, rushing past a number of Blues in SWAT gear, too fast for them to even get a shot off; the brilliant part is that by merely hopping over the top railing of the first staircase going down and following it with a proper landing, I shaved off just enough time in my escape to bypass all the spots my enemies would be before they had time to properly take their places.

Thus probably most important distinction about Mirror's Edge over a standard action game is that it's always about movement. It's essentially interactive kinesthesis, and it ventures into a mode in gaming that's really unparalleled in the industry.

Even when you're standing still, you're conceptualising exactly what that movement will look like. Chances are that if you're good - and if you've been paying attention you will be - the transition between that instant flash of visualisation and its nimble execution will happen in little more than the blink of an eye.

Mirror's Edge™

EA has refused to confirm recent reports that development of a Mirror's Edge sequel has been stopped, insisting the free-running FPS franchise is still in its thoughts.

Following news earlier this week that the publisher had allegedly declined a sequel proposal from developer DICE, an EA spokesperson told 1Up that it was still "an important franchise".

However, the spokesperson added that EA had "nothing further to announce" regarding its future plans for the series.

Mirror's Edge launched on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 back in 2008 to strong reviews but middling sales.

"For those who can shrug off the contradictions and the limitations, ignore the tearing cityscape and lingering qualms about value for money, this will shove you so deeply into the experience of being in someone else's body, and taking it on a terrifying, breakneck joyride, that nothing else will matter." wrote Eurogamer's Christian Donlan in his 8/10 review.

An enjoyable 2D spin-off launched on the iPad in 2010 and last summer a "small team" at DICE was reportedly working on a full console sequel.

Mirror's Edge™

Development of Mirror's Edge 2 has been "stopped" by EA.

A team at DICE showed EA a prototype that was "declined", according to a Eurogamer Sweden translation of a Press 2 Play TV report.

"Patrick [Soderlund - EA driving and shooting game boss] acknowledges that Mirror's Edge didn't match up to their expectations regarding sales, and that has stopped the sequel that has been in development," declared the report, published originally in December.

"EA was shown a prototype, but declined with askance. The project has been stopped - involved parties at DICE are working on something else now. Patrick himself seems to have Mirror's Edge near his heart, but they are not in the business of charity."

Presumably the extra development is going into Battlefield 3 - EA's well publicised attempt at wrestling shooter supremacy from the Call of Duty series.

Patrick Soderlund confirmed last summer that "a small team" at DICE was 'on' a new Mirror's Edge game. Eurogamer pressed him on that point last November.

"Mirror's Edge is an IP that's close to my heart and EA's as well. It was a bold move from us. I'm proud we made it. It obviously didn't reach the commercial success we wanted, even though it wasn't bad at all," he said.

"I still think as a company we're going to talk about it when we're going to talk about it. What I can say is, we haven't buried it. We're absolutely continuing to support Mirror's Edge as an IP. When we're ready to talk about it, we'll talk about it."

EA Games boss Frank Gibeau went on record a few weeks later to say that the execution of Mirror's Edge "fell short". "There were issues with the learning curve, the difficulty, the narrative, and then there was no multiplayer either," he said.

Mirror's Edge, a Parkour-inspired first-person action game, was released late 2009 on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Despite an 8/10 recommendation from Eurogamer, the eye-catching title failed to, well, catch punters' eyes - entering the UK all-formats chart at 20.

Eurogamer has requested comment from EA.

Video: Mirror's Edge.

Mirror's Edge™

Mirror's Edge, EA's 2008 parkour-flavoured FPS, "fell short" of the publisher's expectations.

EA Games boss Frank Gibeau told Develop, "First-person parkour across buildings is fun, but to be blunt, Mirror's Edge's' execution fell short."

"What I learned from Mirror's Edge is that you have to execute, you have to spend more time on a game to ensure it's polished, and you need to have the depth and persistence of an online game," he explained.

"There were issues with the learning curve, the difficulty, the narrative, and then there was no multiplayer either."

"The key learning from us was that if you're going to be bold with that kind of concept, you need to take it as far as it can go in development."

We'd say Gibeau needs to easy up on the DICE-developed title. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but it was certainly one of the more interesting new IPs of the last few years.

Eurogamer's Christian Donlan gave it 8/10, saying, "For those who can shrug off the contradictions and the limitations, ignore the tearing cityscape and lingering qualms about value for money, this will shove you so deeply into the experience of being in someone else's body, and taking it on a terrifying, breakneck joyride, that nothing else will matter."

Gibeau didn't stop at Mirror's Edge though – Visceral Games' largely excellent Dead Space also came in for a bit of a pasting.

"It made money for us, but didn't hit expectations. We felt like we had an IP that struck a chord, and one that hit quality, but again it missed multiplayer modes.

"So when we re-worked Dead Space [for the upcoming sequel], we looked at how to make it a better idea, how do we make the story more engrossing, how do we build Isaac as a character, how do we make this game a success online."

Dead Space 2 is out on 25th January on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but what of a Mirror's Edge sequel? "One thing I will say is that we won't give up on those IPs," promised Gibeau. "A new idea obviously has a lot of risk attached to it, but if you get it all right it can be huge."

Mirror's Edge™

Infamous litigator Timothy Langdell has been booted from the International Game Developer Association for "lack of integrity" and "unethical behaviour".

Langdell resigned from the IGDA board of directors last August, having only secured his seat months earlier in March.

"The Board of Directors today voted to remove Tim Langdell from IGDA membership pursuant to our by laws Article III. Section 6 (b), which states that any member may be removed from membership if the member has demonstrated a lack of integrity or unethical behaviour, as determined by the Board of Directors," wrote IGDA chair Brian Robbins on the official blog.

Langdell's removal from the IGDA coincides with his courtroom loss to EA, which resulted in his cherished "edge" trademarks being stripped from him.

Timothy Langdell and his company Edge Games are best known for bringing about legal action on anyone using the word "edge" in relation to videogames. Future Publishing was targeted for the title of well-regarded magazine Edge; but the turning point was Langdell's pursuit of mobigame's Edge iPhone game and EA's Mirror's Edge.

Mobigame began an internet crusade against Langdell and publicised his questionable correspondence, and EA went on to bring the house down - turning the tables from courtroom prey to courtroom predator.

Eurogamer blew the Langdell saga wide open with Simon Parkin's thorough investigation of Langdell versus Mobigame last year.

A US court gave Langdell until today to phone companies he had previously harassed to tell them he no longer holds the edge trademark. What the repercussions will be, we do not know.

Incidentally, Eurogamer continues to reach out to Timothy Langdell for comment. But I have a feeling we might not hear back this time.


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