I tried in vain to capture the sense of momentum, the speed, the exhileration of freerunning across the gorgeous cityscapes of Mirror’s Edge. Ultimately, though, still images don’t really do the job. It’s something you’ll have to play the game to experience. Surprisingly, in a game where you’re encouraged to keep moving all the time, standing still and looking around the world is incredibly rewarding. Vistas like the one above are simply everywhere in Mirror’s Edge. Often they go almost unnoticed as you desperately try to gain enough speed to make the next death defying leap, but after a couple of playthroughs I began to savour the environments and came up with a few of my favourites.
This is a very small section towards the end of the game that I simply call ‘the gold room’. It’s a narrow and claustrophobic obstacle course of pipes and vents decked out in glorious reflective copper. It’s worth turning Runner Vision off to experience the monotone lushness of this area. Though narrow, there’s still some death defying gaps to overcome, and you’ll find yourself frequently swinging over certain death.
This is how you do a sewer section. You start at the other end of this vast hall in the shadow at the top left of the image. Five minutes later and you emerge into the light, and are rewarded with this view of the route you just took, complete with a squadron of hapless guards still searching for you hopelessly on the ground level. This image showcases a common theme in Mirror’s Edge’s environments, a garishly overpowering primary colour tempered by a sterile white. The tone of each area is completely distinct and utterly fearless in its choice of powerful colours.
I had the pleasure of meeting someone from Introversion once. Talking about Mirror’s Edge, he mentioned the fact that all of the trees and plants were white. I didn’t believe him until I looked for it, but he’s absolutely right. As nonsensical as this seems, it fits in so seamlessly with Mirror’s Edge’s aesthetic that you’ll barely even notice it. I liked the above area for a couple of reasons. Firstly, contrary to all press shots of Mirror’s Edge ever, it’s at night, and still looks fantastic. Secondly, this area epitomises the game’s fierce loyalty to the rules of complimentary colours. Mirror’s Edge is like freerunning through the colour wheel. Having endured game after game of grey dystopias jumping into Mirror’s Edge is to be utterly spoiled. Put simply, it pleases my brain in a very basic and satisfying way.
PHYSICS! Or, as I should sadly spell it, PhysX. Small touches such as extra particle effects and realistic smoke and dust genuinely add a bit of extra drama, lifting the PC version above its console counterpart. The devs have cleverly worked in a few set peices to show off their fabric disintegration technology, but PhysX comes into its own in your first serious helicopter escape, which sees the gunship’s bullets showering you in cascading sparks, throwing up dust and sending steam billowing from ruptured pipes. It’s cool.
They say never look down, but I looked down every time I sailed across a big gap. The camera movement and body awareness combine to create moments of genuinely stomach churning vertigo. Sometimes jumps just look impossible, but somehow, with enough momentum, you’ll beat them anyway.
I don’t like to gush, and Mirror’s Edge has some problems, so here’s a guard looking stupid after I just stole his gun. I’m not giving it back to him until he agrees to take all his friends and get out of Mirror’s Edge, taking the awful fighting and gunplay with him. No, you’re not having it! Leave, get out! I command thee!