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Sunday | December 11, 2016
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Mirrors Edge (PC)

Mirrors Edge (PC)


We reviewed Mirrors Edge last year on the high definition consoles and today we are following up with the new PC version which features support for Nvidia PhysX. For those who missed it first time around developer DICE have attempted to recreate a high octane game built around the concept of a futuristic parkour environment. You climb, jump and scale obstacles, all while trying to avoid being shot by bloodthirsty armed troops.

The setup is straightforward, there is a faceless government attempting to destroy all the resistance networks and you are one of their members. You control a lady called Faith, a very agile and capable runner who gets caught up in the middle of a tale of betrayal and conspiracy. How do you win? By running your cute perky little butt off … around the various levels while accomplishing the tasks at hand.

This game is all about the athletic prowess of runner Faith and throughout the levels, you will run, scale walls, jump between them and generally perform all sorts of mind blowing moves to reach key points in the environments. By keeping this momentum Faith can slide and jump over obstacles in her path and she can often nail a series of moves to reach her objective. There is no doubting that achieving this can be ultimately rewarding, if perhaps at times difficult. Thankfully the system is as intuitive as you could hope for with simple commands performing the tasks required depending on your position in the environment. This does make the title much more accessible and enjoyable, especially to those people unwilling to learn 40 button or keystrokes to perform a complex series of movements.

One of the most shocking initial aspects of the game is the fact that it is set in first person mode when most games in this genre are strictly third person. In fairness it does work very well, however I do know some people who suffer from motion sickness who find this game impossible to play without feeling physically ill. The camera can shake and move to mirror Faith’s physical exertion and rough landings, which while realistic and impressive to see, can lead to queasy stomach churning situations for some gamers.

This first person mode is attractive as Faith’s various limbs make an appearance on the screen to enhance the feeling of being a person rather than a floating object in time and space. You see her hands as he grabs objects and ledges and her legs appear before you when she softens herself for a particularly hard landing. While this sounds like a small detail, it definitely enhances the feeling of immersion and being a part of a living, breathing environment.

There has been much talk in the past about the environment and just like before the buildings are saturated with bloom and lens flare. This is a stylistic decision on behalf of the developer to give everything a manga style appearance. Imagine the futuristic world devoid of personality, almost sterile even … and you get the idea the developers were aiming to create. The soundtrack is sparse and electronic, yet underscores the setting quite well, there are many ambient noises to signify Faith’s impact on the environment – whether she is running fast or breathing hard.

The biggest weakness with Mirrors Edge was something I mentioned in the first review – the apparent lack of cohesive story line. Obviously many would argue that this fits in well with the graphic settings and the gamers are left to fill in the blank spots themselves, but it just doesn’t entirely sit well with me. The cut scenes are crudely presented and the scripting is weak and at times almost funny for the wrong reasons. The animation isn’t exactly one of the strong points either and I feel the developers could have spent more time with the production values to enhance the overall feeling of interactivity with the characters and the world.

The combat, just as before is also sadly lacking in execution … thankfully it isn’t a focal point of the game but there are times you may need to dabble in it to proceed. The disarming sequences are timed with colours, so you are able to ascertain when to press the button for a successful disarming but they are clumsy and not particularly enjoyable in the heat of the game. You can pick up guns to fight, but the first person shooting element is so poor that it is more challenging and entertaining to avoid this as often as possible. Faith will certainly never be mistaken for a female Duke Nukem.

From time to time the game throws puzzle elements at you to break up the fast paced action sequences and to add a certain roundness to the experience. When these sections appear you need to size up where exactly you are, where you need to get to, and exactly how you go about doing that. The game has a help option and it does this by colouring key environmental structures, such as ladders to point you in the right direction (if you are a smart ass you can turn this help system off). Later in the game some of these puzzles are very difficult and result in your death from which you have to keep trying until you succeed. Thank goodness for Youtube user created help videos !

Value for money is basically a six to eight hour long single player campaign and then a number of time trial courses which aim for speed … you can compare your results with others in the online world. These are quite enjoyable and I found myself competiting against some talented gamers to try and knock a second or two from my best times. You can also return to the story levels and devour through a plethora of unlockables such as video, music and artwork.

The PC version has extras, such as a keyboard or mouse if you prefer that to the Xbox 360 controller option (which I did). Graphically you are given a plethora of choices to suit the hardware on hand, with anti aliasing, texture and graphics quality settings and resolution changes. But the most talked about part of Mirrors’ Edge is the PhysX support. This obviously requires Nvidia hardware and when turned on enables quite a few additional extras in the environment. you are presented with banners that blow realistically in the wind as well as fabrics and plastics which move just as they would in the real world. This can have quite a hit on performance and it was only when I moved to a 260 GTX that I would consider the performance strong enough to use at high resolution. Of particular note was a sequence I played when a helicopter tore through a plastic sheet with gunfire, this was very impressive and certainly shows the potential of PhsyX.

The textures have been significantly improved with more detail apparent on quite a few surfaces and the world has been the subject of enhanced interactive objects such as tumbling bricks. There are also real time steam effects and ambient fog. Our sister site Driverheaven will be analysing PhsyX performance in Mirrors’ Edge with an array of hardware at a later date …. stay tuned for that.

So overall, Mirrors Edge really hasn’t changed much from the console version and whether this is a good thing will depend on whether this kind of game appeals to you or not. FPS shooter junkies need not apply. Personally I think the PC version is the strongest release especially if you have the hardware configuration capable of handling PhsyX at high resolution – this really does add a high level of immersiveness to the somewhat bland environments. If you have the money and Nvidia hardware, then this is definitely worth a look. Highly recommended.

Gameplay

88/100

A little clunky (and irritating) from time to time, but overall a fun experience.

Graphics
84/100

Quite bland, but the adoption of Nvidia PhsyX adds significant impact to the environments.

Sound
84/100

Nice atmospheric electronic score and ambient sound effects.

Value
82/100
Not sure of the long term appeal, but the time trials certainly can get addictive.
Overall
(not an average)
86/100

A nice game to start your 2009 PC gaming experience.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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