Lifeblog post

At last check:
Obama: 175
McCain: 61

Pennsylvania projected to be Obama’s is something like that Fat Lady clearing her throat, or at least looking meaningfully at the audience.

Some retooling on the phone, because I feel I could be using it to work/play smarter, if not faster. Lifeblog, Notes and Voice Recorder are now standby shortcuts. BBC News is tied to the right button which saves me three button-presses and is proving itself to be a good call given how often I’m checking the polls.

I’ve discovered that 10:30 – 11:00 is the magic time that decides whether I sleep early or not. Once I’m past 11:00pm, I know that I’m not going to bed till sometime after 12:00. In this case, I spent the intervening hour playing the demo for Mirror’s Edge.

Mirror’s Edge is Electronic Arts Cyberpunk – although significantly brighter – view of the dystopian Big Brother future where private messages are delivered by parkour couriers.

Now if there’s one thing I hate more than 1st person shooters, its 1st person shooters on a console as it as using an thumb-based analog stick is no way to aim to anyone not trying to shoot a building. Also it takes valuable development time from cooler 3D action exploits like Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Solid. But Mirror’s Edge, and in no small part, Dead Space, have me reconsidering this policy.

Dead Space delivers on atmosphere and imagination, but more so than that it delivers on a control system that doesn’t have me hunting for the targeting reticle in the furtherest regions of the screen while being dismembered and devoured. It’s smooth to aim and adjust, which I imagine is the result of dimished sensitivity of the analog stick as well as a slowed recognition and response of the game itself.

Mirror’s Edge is just wonderful innovation. An idea that has been toyed with in Fan Mods of Half-Life and Unreal Tournament finally realised as a money-making prospect. The attraction of parkour is very well represented here as you lead your character through all manner of jumping, sliding and rolling along the many and varied rooftop obstacles, and the grappling system is a particularly nice feature that is often only found in Splinter Cell or MGS in any serious capacity. The only time I’ve played anything like that was some cinematic-based game demo starring Roy Schneider travelling to a medieval kingdom, that I don’t recall the name of.

Anyway, have been replaying the demo, experimenting with different routes and strategies, while exploring the benefits/disadvantages of using the six-axis method of control versus analog stick while balancing on pipes. The only problem I find is the lack of depth perception that 1st person games can suffer. There are times when if I’m not watching my feet, I can jump too tragically soon – watching myself plummet until everything goes black and there’s an ominous crunch – or when sliding, find myself banging my head on the low-hanging object, or exercising my right to swing my fist before my opponent’s nose begins while he exercises his right to bear arms and shoot me.

Also the combination of the top trigger buttons as major role-playing keys could lead to extended bouts of RSI, but these are minor asides that can be fixed with practice and therapy.

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2 Comments

  1. Mirror’s Edge is very shiny. I’ve played the demo a good half-dozen times since it came out.

    Unfortunately, the demo doesn’t have a lot of scope for different routes. For the most part, the route it presents you is the only one to take. I’ve had very little success with trying to fight the guards rather than running away.

    I have noticed that even when I know what to do at a particular spot, I often have trouble. The land and roll in the tutorial is a good example. Even when I figured out exactly what to do, I still find that I fail at least once.

    Having said that, I find the controls very intuitive. The shoulder buttons/triggers combo (Xbox 360 version) works quite well, and means that you rarely need to use your thumbs for anything other than the occasional disarm and/or bullet time, allowing you to keep the right one on the camera control. It’s a lot of fun, and the only thing that will probably stop me buying it on release is Left 4 Dead. The prospect of playing a co-op zombie survival game with friends is just too great to ignore. Of course, I may cave and buy both.

    Interesting facts you may not know about Mirror’s Edge:

    The script was written by Rihanna Pratchett, daughter of…well…I bet you can guess.

    There is very little green, and almost no grey.

    You may have noticed, but the colours desaturate to indicate your general health. The lower you get, the more pronounced the desaturation.

    • I hear you about the lack of routes. For my part its just seeing how well, if at all, you can backtrack. I can get kinda far before it becomes insurmountable. Also checking for different approaches.

      I didn’t know Rihanna Pratchett was following in her father’s footsteps, let alone had something published this mainstream. I didn’t think my expectations for the game could go up much further but here we are…

      Played the demo again last night and paid attention to the lack of greens and greys. The greens make sense– it’s supposed to be a cold and clinical world. The greys, or lack thereof is interesting to me. I notice in the video demos where you’re moving about the streets and sewers that its a colour pallette more in keeping with a cyberpunk setting whereas the hospital clean colours of the rooftops are wholly unique in the game, ie reserved for the rooftops. A visual cue for couriers who embody the red, white and blue of American liberty, or the perception of a spotless city hiding a darker shade of corruption. Or both.

      Yeah, recognized the fade out as a sign of trouble, given how many times I was shot or even more frequently the times I swan-dived off a building =)

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