Mirror's Edge (PC) Review

By Zott820Zott820


*Review contains spoilers.*

I got Mirror’s Edge for PC in February and have been playing it since then. I beat the game once through on normal without shooting any of the guards. I played the game on the highest settings minus anti-aliasing. PhysX was turned on through hardware. I took all the pictures in this review myself. Now on to the review.

As per most of my reviews, I’m going to talk about only what seemed important to me.

Introduction: The concept of this game is simple, get from point A to point B. The execution however is different than many games that preceded it. Yes, other games had first person views, handing from ledges, and wall running. However, few games combined them into a singular package.

The story revolves around a runner, Faith, whose sister is framed for a crime, and Faith must uncover the truth behind the whole thing.

Navigation: The game has some difficulty determining when to hang and when to fall. Let me give an example. The often red glowing pipes are difficult to cling on since if you jump at it at angles rather than pure 90 degrees to its right, or head-on, then you will miss and fall. This has happened to me on more than one occasion and is bothersome. This happens on ledges too, but since they are flat, it is much easier to move perpendicular to a wall than tangent to a rounded pipeline.

One nice feature is the red runner vision and Alt hint key. The Alt key basically sets you in the right direction. It won’t automatically center you on what you are supposed to grab on to, but points you at the destination and you must navigate there yourself. I liked this feature and used it a lot. I didn’t feel it was a cheat so much as a time saver. Without it, I might just be hopping around trying to find out what I’m supposed to do next.


The runner vision makes objective specific objects and doors the color red. This is a useful feature because with so many objects in the visual landscape that is Mirror’s Edge, it is confusing which ones you can attach yourself too, and which are ones that are merely for decoration. An elevator scene near the end of the game was worse for me than normal as wires, and other items hung from ceilings as well as detailed sidings of the shaft, making normally quick decision-making cumbersome. Here there was less runner vision where it would have been preferable. For those who like challenges, Hard mode (unlocked after beating the game once) removes this runner vision, dropping you into a sea of ambiguity. For the most part though, runner vision was a welcomed feature in my book. For every other place, you could usually gauge the climbability from how flat it was.

Enemies: The enemies in this game are annoying. It isn’t because they are stupid, though for all intents and purposes they are merely sentries that may now and then move from their station to get a better shot, but because they are plentiful and well armed.

Yes, in real life, I’m sure the cops would be well armed too, but let me explain why they are especially annoying. I wanted to beat the game without shooting any of the guards, this meant that I only used my fists and threw away the weapons. It is true the PC version does not have any special trophies or achievements like the PS3 or Xbox 360 but that did not deter me from beating the game like this. I like a challenge. However, this led to the increased annoyance of the guards.

Now, if I were playing the game without this gun policy than I would have snatched a gun, ran up to every guard and blasted their brains out like every other FPS, and probably wouldn’t have died once. However, not shooting them, and resisting the temptation to shoot them is harder. Shotgun guys kills you in about one hit, and super armored machine gun guy, who won’t move from his spot is a super annoyance as he pumps you full of bullets as you try and dash up to him.


Stealing guns with the right mouse button ranges from super hard to super easy. For the white riot guards with pistols, they have a very wide opening to grab their gun. For the black guards it is very small. This led to simply killing them with a crouch slide kick followed by punching (which I found to be the most effective). Stealing guns is a one hit kill on the enemy, so it is understandable why it is harder on the more difficult enemies, but overall, the enemies were really not that joyous to kill regardless of the method.

I was constantly killed by the guards which disappointed me. In some rooms I was forced to clear out all the enemies, not because I wanted too, but because I wouldn’t be able to navigate the puzzle aspect of the room without dispatching the guards since they wouldn’t stop pumping me with lead. Dying thankfully set me at a checkpoint just outside the room with the enemies, though when fighting so many enemies in a room at once, I may have cleared out 2 of the 5 or so enemies only to die and have to start all over. Luckily, the load times between dying and the checkpoint were only about 3 seconds. Any longer and I would have dreaded them even more; there aren’t any BF2 loading sequences here. Overall, enemies were not the most enjoyable stuff. Playing through the game I started to dread these enemy rooms.

On the plus side, Faith has a keen ability to dodge bullets as long as she is running. If she stands still, she gets hit with practically all of them. While moving, she may only get hit 10-20% of the time. Very useful information when battling a horde of Blues.


Graphics: Besides the gameplay, one of the most remarkable parts of the game. The PC version benefits from PhysX graphics enhancements, and while I couldn’t tell every part that was different than the Vanilla versions, what I saw I liked. First off, this game was based on the Unreal Tournament 3 engine, so you know the graphics are going to be good. But Mirror’s Edge surpassed my expectations. The textures in this game surpass any I’ve played. What I mean by his is, even if you walk straight up to the wall, you will not find a washed out garble but instead a vivid surface. This is especially true, and surprising for text, improving readability, and believability of the environment. Another example that caught my eye was the bump mapping of a picture that highlighted the oil-painted nature of the texture with circular patterns.


Another example of the stellar graphics are the bullets holes that, depending on the angle of incidence either leave a long streak if the bullet came from a long angle, or the common hole if from a straight shot. This impressed me as few developers program this level of detail in. Bullets also seem to leave 3D parallax holes. Take for example the inside of an elevator. Guard bullets leave indentations that have 3D characteristics. Whether these were programmed for special places or dynamic I could not tell, but they were a very nice touch. For a game based around flight rather than fight, it was astonishing to see this level of detail.

The lighting in the game was also of high caliber. While some reviewers think the lighting looks bad, I must disagree. For the art direction that this game went in. It has the styling of an Apple Macintosh with its clean white edging. It is difficult to describe it, but it was good.


Unfortunately, the lighting suffered from way too much bloom. While HDR is cool and all, when it starts detracting from the gameplay, it is a serious no-no. When you have trouble seeing where you are supposed to jump in a jumping game, you know the bloom was taken too far. Sadly, a version of the bloom even happens inside, meaning you cannot escape the sun even in complete darkness.


Character models are of high quality, though they seem to lack much variation on the guards, which is a bit disappointing considering how many you must fight. One of the concept arts detailed a guard with a gas mask. If they had thrown that evil looking guy in, it may have helped alleviate the clone syndrome. The characters also stand out from the clean environment not because they are dirty compared to the clean environment, but due to the harsh contrast of semi-realism vs. impressionism. Nowhere does this bother me more than on Faith’s character model. So while the models are high quality, they stand out a bit too much in art direction for my liking. The concept art appeared to have better idealism of the final product than what made it in.


Water looked good.

All these high end graphics ran well on my laptop’s 9700gt m, probably getting around 25 fps most of the time. Kudos to visual magic without all the lag. In a high speed game like this, it could have killed it.


PhysX: This special option only available to those with the add-on card or NVidia high end graphics allows for certain graphical enhancements. One addition is plastic tarps on the skyscrapers under construction as well as in the basement of some of the buildings. You can interact with them by shooting them and walking through them. This option also adds random debris floating through the air, which reminded me a little of Call of Duty 4 debris. It also apparently adds more broken glass particles, which look nice falling to the ground after being broken with Faith’s superhuman fist. One time that this add-on really surprised me was when I rubbed up against some boxes covered in plastic and the plastic covering moved a bit as I touched it. I thought it was just a texture, but after that it must have been the PhysX. It was a nice touch which I enjoyed as I dodged bullets behind those boxes.

Unfortunately with all the PhysX I was still disappointed to find paint cans and items and other items stuck to the floor, unable to be hit or punched. This is 2009, Half Life 2 was released in 2004 and you could manipulate more items then you can in this game. It isn’t much to ask if you already have the PhysX engine thrown in anyways.

Story: The storyline in this game was not the best that ever existed but served to cut up the locations and plot. The game takes you to different locals such as the inside of a boat, a car lot, sky scrapers, subway stations, sewers and rooftops. No real location is much different than any other except for the different lighting and color scheme. It might be good in the sequel to include a jungle scene, or desert to change the materials from steel and paint to something else for more variation.


Each chapter was cut by high quality cutscenes. These were similar in art form to the actual game though were anime-shaded. They fit the game nicely, and didn’t detract from the story. They did not serve to improve the story though were more visually appealing then the in game cutscenes. Neither were bad however in their storytelling ways, it was just this story wasn’t super awesome in the first place.

The strongest part of the story for me personally was a part in which you first meet your sister. The first person hug was poignant and worked better than I had seen in other games. (IE, the kiss in “The Darkness” with your girlfriend)

What made the story “meh” was that while I was connected to one or two characters, the rest seemed unimportant. Also, it felt as though I was being pushed from place to place with little reason except just to do it, then magically the plot develops from there. “Oh, this guy is there, I’ll go there.” “Oh the cops are following me? Somehow I’ll get to a place that develops the story” Then once you get there, this guy will lead you elsewhere. Yes, the story is linear, but new characters seemed to be introduced just for the sake of being introduced. Take Jackknife for example. He wasn’t as developed as the other characters, and really only shows up twice. To me he seems just like Celeste, who also suffers the same problem. Faith, her sister and Merc are the only really big players, and of them, Merc is the only one I really connected with as a character simply because of his advising. Merc had the best voice acting of the lot, and so that helped as well.

Other parts of the story, such as the public reaction to your events are displayed through Elevator sequences with a scrolling high resolution texture. I despise these simply because they remind me of the long loading elevators of Mass Effect, though neither on the PC is really due to loading. Also, on subsequent plays, one may not want to read them again, and these sequences are not skippable, making for lost time.

On and off, the story took probably 10 hours to beat for me. I took more time than some, likely because I died so many times avoiding gun kills. At the end you are left with a cliffhanger which was a bit disappointing. Though, considering I wasn’t super invested in the story, it was not a complete loss.

Extras: I like how DICE threw in concept art, and added an ability to play back the game’s music. The concept art gets unlocked as you play through the game. While I don’t think I’ll be listening often to the game’s atmospheric music, it is always a nice feature to have that probably took less than 2 hours to program in. Neat stuff. In the unlockable menu you also can play back the game’s cinematics. These are unlocked after you beat the chapter with the cutscene, and not after you have seen the cutscene. Keep that in mind if you accidently skip through a cutscene.

The game has secret runner bags that are stashed around the levels. These on the Xbox and PS3 would give achievements and trophies, but here on good ol’ PC, they don’t do squat except make you feel good about yourself. Apparently there are supposed to be logos in game to lead you to the bag stashes, though I usually just saw the bag itself. Collect them if you must. I got 10 out of 30 without really trying too hard to find them.


Time Attack: While I haven’t had a lot of time to play this, it seems like a good idea and adds plenty of replay-ability, especially if you are one of the people who is obsessive with being perfect. You can race your times, times set by the develops or world record times. Let me say frankly that the world record times seem a bit sketchy and were probably set with some very tricky maneuvers, and so are unlikely to be broken without repeating those same tricks. 18 seconds on one when the built in time is about 1 minute? The built in developer times are challenging though, and beating them rewards you with unlocking more time challenges.

Conclusion: Gameplay with unique execution, first person acrobat. Excellent graphics at an average system requirement. Nice cutscenes. Replayability enhanced with time trials. Too many enemies. Enemies are annoying. Extras appreciated. Elevator sequences are long and annoying. Story is average. Runner vision is good. Navigation is sometimes tricky. Alt key hint system is nice. PhysX welcome addition to those who can use it. Characters undeveloped. Enough variation in 10 hours to prevent from being overly repetitive.

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