A thrilling ride, if you're up for the challenge

By Jeff Jensen
Updated November 25, 2008 at 05:00 AM EST

Of course, those who chase after cool risk being too cutting-edge for their own good. Exhibit A: Mirror’s Edge, an upstart action franchise whose next-gen female protagonist aims to give Lara a run for her money. Meet Faith: Eurasian, lean and limber, tatted and athletic. She works as a courier ? of information in an oppressive police state that’s technically dystopian, but eschews the gloomy visual clichés. Her gleaming city is a meticulously designed maze of sharp geometry, and she runs and leaps from rooftop to rooftop like a wire-fu action hero. Mirror’s Edge is a reflection of more recent youth-culture touchstones (extreme sports, cyberpunk sci-fi, manga comics), and the conspiracy plot is alarmingly now: It involves the assassination of an idealistic, change-promoting politician. The game is a visceral thrill, thanks to its innovative use of complete first-person ? perspective, but man, is it difficult. Suck at spatial reasoning? You’ll quickly burn out. Faith might get more love if she’d just quit playing so hard-to-get. In the battle for your videogame affection, Lara Croft remains worthy of your loyalty. For now. B+