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Mirror’s Edge and the politics of parkour

As world design in games nowadays trends towards visions of vast, sprawling overworlds, intricately layered and impeccably nuanced, questions of mobility have risen to the forefront: how does the player get from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible? Questions of speed are of paramount concern, of course; no one likes to be held up unnecessarily in pursuit of some arbitrary objective. But, as in any art, games too must also be concerned with not just raw efficiency, but beauty as well: it’s not enough to just get there, but to get there in style, preferably…

Welkin Road
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Welkin Road takes parkour from the rooftops and up to the skies

Gregor Panič has just released Welkin Road, a first-person grappling platformer for Windows, on Steam Early Access. It’s not only his debut game but also a sophisticated one that blends puzzles, freerunning, fast-paced grappling-hook maneuvers, and a “surreal skyscape.” The obvious comparison is with Mirror’s Edge (2008) in that it’s both a first-person platformer and eschews naturalism in favor of efficient design. However, while playing it, the game’s cool, almost minty color palette, its inspired use of cloud imagery, and form-follows-function philosophy, led me to draw comparisons to the NES classic Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988). I wasn’t wrong. “Classic platformers have had a big influence on videogames…

mirrorsedgelead
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Looks like you’ll still be punching plenty of dudes in Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst

“Don’t get into any scraps,” a voice tells Faith over her comm about a minute into the latest trailer for Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. Yet, by now, we’ve already seen Faith take out three guards, with more to come. Though most of the trailer is focused on the series’ signature parkour, it does bookend itself with combat sections, opening and closing on notes of violence. It’s all thrilling enough to look at, but also a little dispiriting, at least for some of us. The first Mirror’s Edge was an exciting departure for DICE, most well-known for the Battlefield series, as it…

hhhh
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This is what Jet Grind Radio would look like if made by the French

Hover is like Jet Grind Radio without the rollerblades. It is plainly Jet Grind Radio Frenchified with the urban sport of parkour. They have replaced the inline skates with a grind-rail riding pair of feet. It’s all good because the cartoonish, purple and black city traced with pink electricity scintillating from your sneaks simply looks to die for as you leap and spin and do impossible flips. In the rivalry between traceurs and bladers, if there is such a thing, count this as a win for freestyle running. The Kickstarter is just getting warmed up and already the goal is in…