Reviewed: February 6, 2009
Released: January 13, 2009
These two words define one of last year’s most innovative titles, Mirror’s Edge. I am a huge fan of first person perceptive titles and the occasional third person titles. Every once in a while a title comes around that changes the way that we play games. Mirror’s Edge is a title that pushes the boundaries on a variation that is not ventured into.
Mirror’s Edge is best described as a headlong long jump off a steep cliff not knowing what will happen next. Mirror’s Edge utilizes the exercise of Parkour and tight camera movements to create a title at that I won’t soon forget.
The story revolves Faith, a Runner, who delivers messages via rooftops to clients that desire to keep the information they contain a secret and out of the eyes of a totalitarian regime that monitors its citizens through invasive surveillance. The regime tracks all forms of electronic communication in order to reduce crime and quell any challenge to its power.
Faith receives a call from her sister Kate, a police officer that she is in big trouble. Upon arriving on the scene she finds that Robert Pope, a candidate for mayor of the pristine city has been murdered. Kate seeks her help but due, to Faith’s allegiances, she cannot get involved with the police. That ultimately puts her firmly in the bulls-eyes of the government and it is now a race to save her sister’s life and her own.
Players assume the role of Faith, but in such a way that makes you feel you are really there. The story itself is somewhat lost in the action as you will more or less be running for your life through rooftops and even subways. As I was playing I pretty much didn’t care who I was disarming or full out running away from.
Now I’ve played the 360 version of Mirror’s Edge so most of my experience starts there. However the PC version is a whole new experience. While the two versions are identical as far as gameplay is concerned, the controls are so much easier with a keyboard and mouse. This is particularly true when it comes to looking around. I find that like most FPS’s are concerned that having a separate aiming tool makes for more desirable end results.
One major improvement that the developers made with Mirror’s Edge for PC was that it is enhanced with NVIDIA® PhysX™ technology. For those that own PhysX enhanced cards you can experience Mirror’s Edge as it was truly meant to be played. There was slight hiccup with the game when I first ran it with PhysX support but now thanks to a patch it runs much smoother.
I also had a nasty habit of hitting the slide button when I meant to hit the jump button a lot of time on the 360’s controller. With a keyboard I found those mistakes to be almost completely eliminated due to the default keyboard settings. The only issue that I had was accidentally hitting the TAB key multiple times when trying to hit the Q key to do 180° turns. That was quickly rectified after several failed attempts to scale certain area by remapping the “Turn-180” key to a more accessible and reasonable location.
I will say that I met my far share of bone shattering, freefalling deaths or the single instance of getting hit by a speeding subway train while attempting an acrobatic feat across a track. I even managed to do one action backed sequence aboard the top of a subway train in only two tries where as the 360 version took me quite a few more tries.
But those of you that shudder at the thought of playing a first person title on your PC keyboard and mouse there is another option. PC users can opt to use a Microsoft Xbox 360 Wired or Wireless Controller to aid their path through Mirror’s Edge.
To help you get through these monochromatic levels Faith has Runner Vision, which highlights interactive environmental elements with a red color. You can also hold down a button and your view will shift to look toward your ultimate destination. Both of these tools won’t always point you toward the immediately path, but they are useful in navigating these huge levels that often look very much alike. And if you feel these tools are "too helpful" you can always turn them off and figure it all out for yourself.
There are nine chapters in Mirror’s Edge that mostly take place outdoors and at dizzying heights. One of the greatest thrills about Mirror’s Edge for me is Faith’s sheer nerves to slide, shimmy and jump her way through some of the most breathtaking environments. I’m definitely not going to be attempting those feats anytime soon.
From time to time Faith’s path will take you indoors for some simple yet futuristically elegant levels through offices, lobbies, or even sewage treatment plants. You’ll find yourself crawling through ventilation shafts or riding on the tops of elevator cars or making daring trapeze-style swings across horizontal poles.
Mirror’s Edge is a fairly short title lasting around 6 to 8 hours depending on how many tries it takes you to escapes heavily armed guards and some tough situations that seem impossible to beat. My first run through I will admit that I didn’t make it through without firing a shot, but since I wasn’t playing the Xbox version I really didn’t care. But for the most part I spent most of the time disarming or taking out Blues the hard way.
There is also a Time Trial mode that treats the levels as obstacle courses. You can play and replay these modes in hopes of achieving record times and even compete via online EA leaderboards. The PC version of Mirror’s Edge does one thing that the console versions don’t. Mirror’s edge for the PC has the ability to download ghosts of your friends or those of the fastest Runners in the world to give you an added incentive to try harder. Who know you might learn a few tricks. I know I did.
The one thing that I really liked about Mirror’s Edge, other than the sheer fun, were the hidden Runner bags and Runner Glyphs. I managed to score 25 of the 30 bags my first run through, thanks largely to a good memory and helping a friend out in his quest for every last one. I wholly plan on returning to find the bags I missed as unlockables are gained for doing so. The PC version features unlockables ranging from the animated cut scenes to concept art as well as music from the game itself.
Graphically, Mirror’s Edge is an absolute wonder to behold. The environments are amazingly clean that someone must be the world’s biggest neat freak. Every once in a while, or at least when bullets weren’t flying over my head, I would take the time to stop and admire the views from the top of whatever I was currently atop.
Not only are the environments amazing but the details on Faith and all of the humans are simply amazing. Since you will spend a large portion of your time seeing Faiths hands, arms legs and body, the developers took great care to make her feel and look as real as possible. The textural detail of Faith’s gear is really impressive, more so on the PC than the Xbox 360 version.
The sound department of Mirror’s Edge was the main things that drew me in when I played the demo. Every day after that my first run through of the demo I was frantically searching the web for any info on who the artist was that created the music for it. The music in Mirror’s Edge is by far some of the most addicting music that I have ever heard. My Zune Social profile can attest to that one.
But while the music is a big part of the adventure, there is a lot more going on in Faith’s world. The pitter patter of her shoes hitting the pavement or the scuffing of her pants as she slid under an air duct. The impact sounds when you flub up a landing or land flat on your back after hitting the wrong button.
Voice acting is quite good and there is also a lot of dialogue to be heard, usually from Merc as he relays where to head to get your ass in high gear. I also found that the environmental sounds to be quite enjoyable…well unless you count the sound of roaring wind as you are about to go splat on the pavement.
Mirror’s Edge, is frankly a short title, and I really didn’t want the joyride to end. I was having too much fun, and it’s always fun to talk shop with friends on what wicked feats you pulled off during you last run. The time trials and harder difficulty mode are incentives to try you luck at more agonizing feats of acrobatics.
The ability to download friend’s ghosts and attempt to best them and ultimately the best Runner’s in the world has some lasting appeal. The PC version of Mirror’s Edge also comes with a music CD featuring the theme song “Still Alive” by artist Lisa Miskovsky as well as several remixes by artists Ben Benassi, Paul Van Dyk and a few others.
Mirror’s Edge is a title that I will not soon forget. In an industry full of sequels and non original ideas, Mirror’s Edge dares to challenge the way we experience first person titles as well as video games as a whole. I found the combat mechanics to me a little shaky and uncooperative at time but for the most part managed to complete my objective with only a minimal amount of frustration. I highly recommend this title to anyone seeking a thrill ride.
"We call ourselves runners. We exist on the edge between the gloss and the reality. The Mirror's Edge."