Game Lens is a game photography feature. I hack, mod, tweak, and stress games (and myself) to not only make them as beautiful as possible; but to explore their environments free of HUD, overlays, and physical confinements; and take interesting, high-resolution screenshots. This time, it’s Mirror’s Edge.
Mirror’s Edge brings along extreme opinions. A game about speed, momentum, and (in many people’s cases) falling to your death; it requires a certain amount of precision and finesse to achieve the emotions the game can make you feel. If you have the patience and skill needed to play the game how it’s meant to be played, it really is something else altogether. Regardless of your feelings for the game though, there is no doubt that Mirror’s Edge is incredibly beautiful.
A stunning artistic vision, absolutely demolishing the norms we’ve come to expect from games using Unreal Engine 3. Mirror’s Edge is bright, beautiful, and so shiny. The visuals are very eye-catching; technically inferior now, perhaps, but aesthetically gorgeous. The visuals of Mirror’s Edge are all about colour; every environment in the game has its own primary colour, setting the scene in some way relevant to the storyline, and the colours are very striking. White is the dominant outdoor colour of Mirror’s Edge, allowing it to be painted with primary green, blue, and orange. Bright red shines through the white, indicating an object you can interact with to engage your next move. The vibrant colour palette makes absolutely everything stand out.
The dull, dark, and gritty environments we’ve come to expect from many AAA games in the current generation aren’t present here. Mirror’s Edge has none of this. Keeping with the colour theme, some notable indoor environments include an office complex made up of overly-designed modern art painted with harsh orange and silver, and in the depths of a huge skyscraper at night, with dark blues matching the stunning azure skyline you see at every turn from outside its gigantic windows. Even it’s token sewer level is made up huge circular designs coloured with solid greens and whites, punctuated by beautiful lighting and shader effects, almost as a scathing reference to the cliché of visual designs in gaming.
Everything is immaculate in Mirror’s Edge, surfaces glistening in the sunlight in a wonderfully unrealistic, pristine way; giving a very clean, futuristic, almost sterile feel to this elegant city. But it’s a totalitarian regime that controls the people, the media, and everything else. Its visual perfection is born from overuse of power, its surreality from authority, its complete lack of crime from a Big-Brother-esque surveillance that controls everything that everyone does. The design of the game does an amazing job of displaying how empty the world around you has become, while still making it feel alive and unsafe. It’s a shame that the storyline doesn’t contest to how strongly the setting is presented.
Mirror’s Edge is a game that gives off such an amazing sense of freedom; though not because of the levels. The levels aren’t entirely linear, as there are a number of ways to reach your objectives and the layout is good; but it’s other things that really capture your attention. Sprinting and jumping across rooftops, seeing cars below you and hearing the wind rushing in your ears gives this wonderful sense of speed which is a completely unbridled experience I haven’t felt in any other game. Mirror’s Edge is the type of game that you can get completely sucked into, and maybe forget for a moment that it’s actually a game you’re playing.
As well as the story mode, Mirror’s Edge allows you to attempt time-trials and speed runs, using levels already in the main game. In addition to this though, there are DLC time-trials available. Visually these are completely unlike the rest of the game, employing an extremely surreal, minimalistic, almost drug-trip style. Floating, stylized blocks in space, formed together specifically for you to run through. The DLC time trials are difficult, but rewarding, and very nice to look at.
The main musical theme to Mirror’s Edge is called “Still Alive”, (not to be confused with Portal’s credit song), and those who have heard it will understand how faithful it is to how the game looks and feels. An ethereal europop track with echoing piano notes and breathy vocals, it perfectly captures the feeling of freedom you get from running, jumping, and climbing your way to the top of a tall building and looking at the living, breathing city around you and below you.
Mirror’s Edge is a stunning creation. Serene, yet hectic, and full of life; life that flows from every inch of the game. Whether through its art style and visual flair, tight (yes they are) controls and freerunning mechanics that give that amazing feeling of freedom, or simply all the little details you spot on every corner.
Settings and Tweaks: 1440p rendering, 16xQ Anti-Aliasing, Free Camera, Time Stop.
Want more pretty pictures? Check out my Flickr here.