Since the game was announced more than a year ago, I have been eagerly tracking Mirror's Edge's progress from idea to execution, but last week, I finally got a chance to play it. EA sponsored a contest for the game's time trial mode, an add-on to the main plot where the point is to get from point A to point B as fast as possible through your character's awesome parkour moves.
The game's plotline follows Faith, a "runner" in a dystopian future who goes from delivery person to solver of mysteries after a terrible fate befalls her sister. Along the way, you'll battle gunmen and your fear of heights as you leap from perch to perch to get where you're going.
Time Trial Mode, though, contains no enemies except the merciless clock. You start out at the beginning of a level and try to get to the end as quickly as you can. Seems simple, but unlike, say, a racing game, finding the best "line" is only part of a winning strategy. Faith must use her moves to overcome obstacles in the best way possible. Example: A simple stairway becomes an opportunity to shave a few milliseconds off your time. You could run up it like a normal person would, or grab onto a bar hanging over it and pull yourself up for an even shorter time. Or, if you want to really shave time, jump towards a nearby wall, time your button push just right, and launch off the wall, spin around and land at the top of the stairs. These strategies require split second timing, and, as it was my first time out, I generally splatted into the wall or missed the overhanging bar completely. It's going to take some practice, but it will be the kind of practice you'll love, trust me.
Your "guide" in the time trial mode is a "ghost" of your best time--or someone else's best time; the game supports sharing of ghosts, so you'll not only be able to play against your friends' best times, but also against the best players in the world through leaderboards. Watching other player's ghosts will reveal the secrets of perfect technique, and thus very quick time.
The game plays smoothly, looks great, and the time trial mode is almost criminally addictive--like a salty potato chip, you will not be able to play it just once, or just 20 times. Sadly, the level I played was only around a minute long (or 57 seconds if you were fast), but I seriously could have played the same level all night, working to cut a half second off my time and finally triumph.
When Mirror's Edge comes out on November 11th for the 360 and PS3, it will feature 20 time trial levels, but if you're itching to get your hands on it early, a demo is set to launch by the end of the month. The demo won't include time trials, but if you pre-order the game from Best Buy, it will come with a code to unlock the time trial mode in the demo.