My Faith is faster than yours: Speeding through Mirror’s Edge’s Time Trial mode

When Mirror’s Edge ships on November 11, gamers will get the chance to run the game’s main character, Faith, through her paces. Set in a world where a police state has locked down modern communications, Faith must rely on her parkour-like skills to deliver messages via rooftops of a city’s skyscrapers.

Outside of the game’s single-player mode, developer DICE will also be including what producer Nick Channon is calling “the icing on the cake,” a Time Trial mode. Last week, Electronic Arts held an event high above the San Francisco skyline — in the Marriot Hotel’s View Lounge — giving us our first hands-on with the mode. 

Details and impressions after the jump.

Mirror’s Edge‘s will feature 20 “Time Trial” levels, which you’ll open up as you progress through the game’s single-player story. As the name implies, you’ll race through these stand-alone areas competing against the clock for the best time. The game will keep track of the best times, with global and friend leaderboards in place to encourage competition. 

Additionally, a “ghost” will be saved for each run through. As you play through a time trial, you’ll be “competing” against the ghost of the best time; the ghost is visualized by a red-bodied figure that you can watch for tips on how to nail faster times. For those looking to perfect their times and shave off precious seconds, it’ll be possible to download the ghost of the number-one time in the world, so prepare for some serious study.

Controlling Faith in Mirror’s Edge is surprisingly simple. You move and look with the left and right analog sticks, respectively. On the PlayStation 3, pressing L1 will make you jump; pressing L2 will make you slide underneath objects. You can do a quick turn with R1, and when landing from a reasonable height, you can hit L2 to roll and keep speed.

During my first Time Trial run-through, it took me nearly three minutes to complete the course, following red arrows and checkpoints throughout. The second time, I was able to complete it in under two minutes. By the end of the night, my best time hovered somewhere right below 54 seconds.

The key to getting the best times is not only knowing the best path, but how to use Faith in any given situation. For example, one path may be to head for a staircase. But the best option would be to run up a wall to hop over a rail. In another area, would it be faster to slide underneath some piping, or hop over the box? The choice, of course, is up to you. Multiple play-throughs of each area will reveal different and faster paths, which should keep competitive gamers coming back for more. Coupled with accurate jumps and well-timed slides, it seems like there’s a fair amount of depth involved, despite the game’s simple premise.

Regarding the much-talked-about demo of the game, word is that an announcement will be coming sooner, rather than later — we were told “towards the end of the month.” While the demo will consist of a single-player area, pre-ordering the game from select retailers will net you a code that will unlock a single Time Trial level of the game. If you’re looking to get a leg up on the competition, now might be a good time to start bothering your local GameStop employees.

Mirror’s Edge hits the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on November 11. PC gamers can expect the game sometime this “Winter.”

Nick Chester