“First-person shooters are rarely ever about the person. We may view the ceaseless slaughter through the eyes of the lead protagonist but we rarely get a sense of them as a physical presence in the game world. They are a visual consciousness attached to a gun and a health gauge.
Mirror’s Edge was different. Built by Swedish studio EA Dice between the second and third generations of its multimillion-selling Battlefield titles, it made the body and experiences of lead character Faith Connors central to the action. Set in a stylised futuristic dystopia, the game mixed parkour exploration with the narrative of a paranoid chase movie, turning the city into a tense gymnastic playground, its soaring white towers a mere backdrop to the physicality of the avatar. While running, we could see Faith’s arms and legs on screen, the camera jogged as she sprinted and leapt. It was a strange and thrilling simulation of embodiment. It was flawed but beautiful.
Seven years after that game’s release, EA Dice is preparing a follow-up, cryptically entitled Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. “It’s more of a reboot than anything else,” explains EA Dice general manager, Patrick Bach. “We call it the origin story. We keep what the first game was all about, but we’ve allowed ourselves to remaster it from the core out. Some of the promises weren’t realised; we wanted to build a game that felt truly free and open.”
In Catalyst, then, you’re once again inhabiting an architecturally beautiful fascist state, where citizens are sublimated into a machine like system of computerised surveillance. Fitted with augmented reality contact lens computers that overlay their vision with scrolling propaganda messages, inhabitants are told that “personal freedom comes at a price”.
Released from jail, Faith quickly re-joins the Runners, an underground network of cat burglars and couriers, who traverse freely across the city’s skyline…”