© 2009 The Runner

The Run, Episode One

I’ve had, by anyone’s standards, a long year. I’m stressed, tired, I have a job I despise; I need a break. So tonight I’m going to do what a lot of people do when their mind needs clearing. I’m going for a run.

1

I first played Mirror’s Edge earlier this year, back in March, and was astounded that it hadn’t made more of an impact. It’s a stupendously beautiful game, which offers a sleek and very rewarding platformer with only the merest of frustrations to get past along the way. It’s fast, it’s visceral and it’s oh so immersive. The lights are off. London is quiet. The colours of Mirror’s Edge are playing around my bedroom.

First, the training. I’ve forgotten almost everything, but I know it’s in the back of my mind. At first, I was atrocious at Mirror’s Edge. Momentum was hard to maintain, the levels made no sense and the combat was to be avoided at all costs. But by the end of the game I was a stylish killer in plimsolls, poetry in motion as if I’d designed the levels myself. This is one of the great miracles of Mirror’s Edge. It knows how to train you.

2

I miss my second test. Instead of sliding slickly under the railing, I slam hard into it and get chucked back a few metres. Again. This time I’m under, flying away, over the jump, into the roll, up the ramp and to Celeste, my co-runner for this training mission. A little chitchat, and we’re gone – over the chain link fence, then the wall run – timing the jump, it’s all in the timing. You’ll run up the wall, but to get the most out of it you can’t jump at the apex. You’ve got to wait. As soon as we hit the ground we’re into the vault, over the pipes, and then smash into the door.

3

Doors.

Doors in Mirror’s Edge are what separate the men from the boys. If you’ve got the momentum, and if you time the mouseclick right, you’ll shoulder barge through in the most beautiful fashion, Faith’s body slamming it open with barely a dink to your speed. Get it wrong, and you’ll stop dead in front of it, and give it a half-hearted kick.

Every game to some extent has a primary resource. Mirror’s Edge deals in Momentum. Get up to speed, and doors can either make you or break you. I forget how to slide under pipes. I remember doors.

4

After that, it all comes back. From then on it’s the reverse wall jump, the shimmy, and the zipline – god, the zipline. The old ways begin to come back, and I’m getting that pulse that craves regularity, uninterrupted runs through open rooftops. I’m back to only thinking about one thing. The running.

5

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