Mirror's Edge PC Hands-On
How does Faith leap with a mouse and keyboard? We make the jump.
After a brilliant E3 showing earlier this year, Mirror's Edge quickly became one of the most anticipated games of the fall season because of its innovative first-person free-running mechanics and its attractive new universe. When the final release hit the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Mirror's Edge was well received, yet it was an overall disappointment because it did not live up to its tremendous potential. One thing was certain, however: DICE's first effort into virtual parkour will not be its last, because EA has already confirmed that a sequel is in the works and mention has been made of an entire trilogy. PC gamers hoping to experience Mirror's Edge for themselves can do so when it's released on January 13.
For those not familiar with Mirror's Edge, the game takes place in a sterile city of gleaming high-rises that its leaders want you to believe is a utopia. It's far from it. Free speech has been stifled to make way for a safe and comfortable city without dissidence or conflict, or even litter. Indeed, this is one of the cleanest video game cities you will ever visit. But wherever there is oppression, there is unrest. You play as Faith, a runner who specializes in delivering important messages between leaders of an underground movement. Traditional means of communication are being monitored by the government, and the only option left is to run.
We'll leave the rest of the story elements for you to discover on your own, and you could also go back and read our console review if you don't mind a few spoilers. From what we've played of Mirror's Edge on the PC, it's a faithful port of the console version with a few notable extras. Mouse and keyboard controls are very accurate, and turning with a mouse is a breeze. By default, up movements are executed with the space bar, down actions are performed by pressing the left shift button, and a quick turn is assigned to Q. For simple maneuvers, the mouse and keyboard work great. But the intricate button combinations needed to perform a wall-run, a quick turn, a wall-jump, and sliding under a fence feel more comfortable with a controller, and Mirror's Edge supports both the Xbox 360 controller and the Logitech Chillstream. When you've finished the story, you unlock a speed-run mode that lets you replay the campaign, challenging you to finish each level--with police on your tail--in the shortest time possible. The addictive time trials with online leaderboards will return, and you can download ghosts of top-ranked runners or your friends to compete against. Act fast and you can take on our world-record-holding ghost on the Edge map. In the interest of full disclosure, we should mention that the game has not been released, and we probably earned that record against a total of seven people, but it feels good, just the same.
Mirror's Edge remains a beautiful game, and graphics hounds will definitely prefer the PC version over the console versions. Even on low settings it was a beauty to behold. Little has changed in the environments, so they remain relatively empty and sterile compared to the grit and grime you'll find in a place like Grand Theft Auto's Liberty City. The PC version also implemented Nvidia's PhysX technology to add cloth effects, fog effects, and wind. The effects are subtle, and you may not notice a curtain billowing beautifully in the wind as a police helicopter rains down gunfire upon you, but the PhysX effects are certainly an improvement.
EA recently announced downloadable content for Mirror's Edge, and that too will come to the PC. It won't ship with the game, unfortunately, but the package of new time trial maps will be available for purchase for $10. Overall, the PC version appears to be the best of the bunch, with options to crank up resolution and textures to mind-blowing levels. Even on lower settings, the only settings our lowly machines can handle, the game is at least on par with the console versions. Check back for our full review when the game releases next month, and we'll let you know if the PC version of Mirror's Edge is worth the wait.
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