Quite a few people know that I a huge fan of the first mirrors edge game. Between the artwork, music and gameplay, I don't think I've come across anything that can hold a candle to it. Love it or hate it, I think that they made a game that has been on the top of my list ever since I first played it.
The artwork was so simple, so clean, that it made the world look beautiful, without ever feeling overwhelming or tacky. The very deliberately simple color scheme draws the eye to what the developers thought was important almost perfectly. Along with the music, it feels so futuristic, yet so real. One of the games that I also love for its art is Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. This is for a completely different reason, because the cell shaded style makes the game still look modern despite being released in 2002/3. Mirrors edge achieves something similar in this regard. By reducing the colors down to only those necessary, players are focused so much more on the flow, not the visuals. I'm not saying that the graphics look terrible, but I do think that the game will last longer visually than some.
Beyond the artwork and the visuals are the controls. Some first person game controls make you feel like you're wading through water the whole time. They just don't respond how you want. No matter what you do, there's a perceived lag, even if the command you give it is registered right away, maybe the animation makes it slow down, or the start and end of the sequence are oddly timed. Other times there are controls for games that are just very, very complex. If you play computer games, this is very common and not necessarily a point against them, but can make for mechanics that have to be taught, not learned.
By only using the shoulder buttons for almost everything, and making the real elegance a combination of only 4, or even 2 buttons, the learning curve is natural. There's a need to teach you the basics, however perfection is sought after by finding places and times to use combinations that the game never tells you about. When the developers recently talked about flow, I think that this was at least part of what they meant by it.
Mirrors Edge 2
In the latest trailer for E3, it seemed like they were doing everything astonishingly well. Like others, I almost expected there to be more of a shift towards combat. I though that they would probably push players towards weapons, however it seems as if they are really going for a strong focus on the hand-to-hand combat, and making it smoother and less stop and start than the previous game. To be quite honest, this seems the perfect route to go. I remember one of my least favorite sections of the old game being on that ship, when you almost were forced to fight the enemies. Having only two ways to really neutralize them made it tough. You could fight them hand-to-hand, just using the punch and kick, which takes time and forces you to stop almost always. Or you can stop in front of them and wait for them to smash your face in while disarming them. Making this simpler, and more flow-oriented can only make things cleaner.
The colors look very similar as well. Almost entirely red, black, blue or yellow, it continues to look clean, orderly and beautiful. Just looking at the current concept art and released footage, the new game could quite easily be mistaken for the old game, which I would call excellent. Faith seems to have gotten new clothes and shoes, as have the police, but that looks like all they have really changed.
There are a few things that I really do wish Mirrors Edge could be, though. In the first game there was some very good use of the cartoons between chapters, giving the game time to load and telling a story. While it would probably be much more intensive to make all of the cut scenes first person with fully rendered graphics, it would make the game so much more immersive. Something else would be to make the game open world, or at least more open feeling. Mirrors Edge never felt like it was claustrophobic, however the exploration that we were allowed to do felt limited, and there seemed to be so much potential for more places, faster routes, and more. After playing open world games that try to incorporate free running elements, it seems like this would make things very interesting, and might open up a whole new challenge for people, making their own routes or points to go between and timing them. Even if it's just more of the same, I won't be sad, though.
All in all, the game looks stunningly gorgeous, and if the graphics they have shown are anything to go by, then this could easily blow their previous game out of the water. While there's not been any talk of a release date, I've already started holding my breath for when I can finally play this game. To the studio, I wish you the best of luck and hope that this will knock everyone out of their chairs.