Game Diary - November 6, 2008: She's No Killer

Playing my advance copy of "Mirror's Edge" last night I found myself realizing that I was an hour into a first-person game without having killed anyone.

There are enemies in the game. EA's original adventure may primarily be about running acrobatically across rooftops, but make no mistake that you are doing this under duress. Gunfire propels you to flee and fly ever further.

I can't detail exactly what I did in the game last night because of a press embargo that lasts until next week. I can't say how far I got. Nor can I describe the moment when I finally felt compelled to stop running and start fighting, the moment I made my first kill.

I can, however, share this thought: imagine an action game in which you don't kill. Imagine it not for morality's sake but for originality's sake. Imagine finishing "Fable II" without causing a death. Imagine "Mass Effect" minus killing. Imagine mastering the existing, but hard, option to finish most "Metal Gear Solid" games without a kill. And imagine if any company ever made a James Bond game that allowed you to suavely avoid tallying a body count.

Last night, at least for a time, I controlled a character who, in my hands had no need to kill. Lacking a need to kill, my heroine began to feel like a heroine who had no desire and no willingness to kill. That made her feel special among gaming action heroes. That made her feel unique. And that made the first time she did pick up a gun and pull the trigger feel so very different, a violent rupture of a more believable state of mind.

Imagine that.

Next: I'm juggling "Mirror's Edge" with "Resistance 2." But tonight I think I may have time for neither.