Mirror's Edge

Recast Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time as a first-person action game, set it in what appears to be a bleached-out version of Vancouver, top it off with an unsurprising Orwellian-style narrative, and you have the recipe for Mirror's Edge, one of the year's most eclectic new IPs.

You play Faith, an attractive woman with a tattooed right eye. Faith is a "Runner," a rooftop-hopping, sneaker-wearing acrobat. She's one part Cirque Du Soleil performer and two parts New York City bike messenger. Her job: to discretely transport information for people who don't want the omniscient government prying into their business.

You'll spend much of the game sussing out how to get from one rooftop to another or trying to figure out how to escape from seemingly exit-free situations. By whiting out the city and marking specific objects with color—you should head for anything red—the developers do a terrific job of always keeping you moving in the right direction.

By far the game's most refreshing aspect is its pacifistic leanings. In a move that the Call Of Duty crowd will find appalling, fighting is actually discouraged. You can swipe an enemy's weapon, and briefly wield it to fire on enemies. Or, in a curiously empowering moment—one unprecedented in gaming history—you can also simply toss it aside and move on with the game.

Beyond the game: Speed Runs challenge you to get through each of the game's levels as quickly as possible.

Worth playing for: Skimming along rooftops, making daring leaps, and dodging and disarming guards can induce a Zen-like state.

Frustration sets in when: You wind up in a room with no apparent way out. (Tip: If you see a gun lying about, pick it up and use it to shoot out any nearby glass walls. There. We just saved you about an hour of misery.)

Final judgment: The story and dialogue are clunky at times. And there are many situations where you'll be utterly perplexed as to where to go next. But overall, no game this year looks, or plays, quite like this one.

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