Mirror’s Edge – First impressions

Finally started playing Mirror’s Edge last night, and I finished about 3/4 of it in just a couple of hours. Really enjoying it so far. In addition to the interesting story and gameplay, it’s definitely one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played. Maxed out on PC (and 8xAA), many things look photorealistic.

I found myself often comparing the graphics to Battlefield 3, which is on DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine. When I discovered Mirror’s Edge (also by DICE) runs on Unreal 3, I was shocked. I’ve seen Unreal produce some incredible things, but this game blew my expectations out of the water. Mirror’s Edge 2 will be on Frostbite 2, and while I know that will look even more amazing, Unreal does the trick for this game. Lighting and shadows are just phenomenal. Even up-close, textures don’t look overly pixelated or low-res. Light bounces off water and casts shimmering reflections on walls. There were some funny things I noticed, though: The backgrounds are 2D, meaning even clouds don’t move in the sky. Water shimmers in the distance, the sun shines brilliantly, but nothing else moves past a few city blocks. Hair looks awkward, although it still moves realistically, as seen in Faith’s shadow. Nevertheless, those things don’t detract from the beauty of this game.

Much about Mirror’s Edge reminds me of a cross between the two Portal games, and maybe a dash of Half-Life 2 (it just feels like a Valve game in general). The visual style portrays the world as clean and crisp with primarily solid colors, yet there is an oppressive authoritative force and signs of dilapidation. While there are no real puzzles to solve, moving throughout the world is a puzzle in and of itself. Some locations the player comes across have little easter eggs like in Portal, when you stray from the testing areas. Music reminds me of Portal 2 a bit.

I’ve been playing with a 360 controller, but it’s still been awkward going along trying to keep the flow of free running. That’s not the fault of the game, however; I’m just not that good at it most of the time. It’s fun when it does work out smoothly, though. The game keeps up a vibrant intensity as enemies are constantly on your tail. It annoyed me sometimes, because I’m like, “I just did some complicated climbing and jumping and crawling through vents, and you’re STILL bursting through doors right behind me?!” But I easily forgive the game when I realize how exhilarating it is nonetheless.

Hand-to-hand was also a little awkward, mainly because I was doing it wrong. I would just run up to enemies while they’re shooting at me and disarm them, because I’m not thinking in terms of combat. Now, I remember there are ways to execute combat much more smoothly, and I’ll start doing that as I finish up the last hour or so of the game.

I’ll give a little wrap-up post after I complete the game, but my impression so far is that it’s a fun, gorgeous game definitely worth a playthrough. Or two, if you’re like me, a bumbling idiot the first time around, hopefully a parkour master the second time.

Below are all the screens I’ve taken so far. Feel free to use them as wallpaper, for graphics, whatever you want. Credit is appreciated, but do NOT claim them as your own.


~ by The Retro Gamer on December 19, 2011.

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