Mirror's Edge PDF Print E-mail
Written by Silver Sorrow   
Sunday, 25 October 2009 21:19
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Mirror's Edge
Is a story really necessary?
Next movement...
It's raining pigs
Look on the bright side...
Now that I've won
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Look On the Bright Side Of Your Contents Splattered All Over The Pavement Far, Far Below

The only true happiness I discovered in this game was when I -- miraculously -- would disarm a machine gun-toting cop and then use my not-too-bad aiming skillz to mow down the bad guys. Killing the Reborn Jedi Runner cops (or whatever) with a burst of machine gun fire was a healing moment for me. I think this game could have been much better for someone of my base preferences by adding in a really good arsenal to Faith's bag of tricks. Of course, someone would pop this happy little bubble with the inevitable stupid question: where would Faith keep her guns while she's performing acrobatics?

Skul-gun, dammit. Gunther had the right idea.

Style! Flair! Anime Hair!

Mirror's Edge vacillates between cel-shaded and engine-rendered cutscenes (or "cinematics," if you like); in-game movies that interrupt the action are in the style of the game itself, while movies between chapters are cel-shaded. For the graphics alone I applaud the devs, as they are really very good...

...if a little bright.

alt

 

I See A White Light And My Dead Relatives Frantically Boarding Up A Pair Of Large Pearly Gates

Why is it so bright? I suspect that it may be a metaphor for how "clean" the city is, but I also suspect that no one at DICE has any sense of proportion when it comes to gamma settings. (I had the same problem with Assassin's Creed, another EA game that had an unnatural fetish for overcontrasted environments.) I kept fiddling with the gamma between indoors and outdoors, and I never found a happy medium: glaringly bright outside, damnably dark inside.

To the devs: for future consideration, try two sliders: one for brightness, the other for contrast. This makes it easier on those of us who have a little trouble with bright lights. Better yet, why don't all of you just bite...again, never mind. Staying PG...staying PG...mustn't hate...musn't hate...calm...calm...

There's an .ini fix for the brightness, fortunately:

Find the TdEngine.ini in C:\My Documents\EA Games\Mirror's Edge\TdGame\Config\ (or the equivalent under Vista, etc.); find the line "TdTonemapping=True" and change it to "TdTonemapping=False" (no quotes). There you go. And who said that you couldn't learn anything useful from my reviews?

...oh, right. That was me.

alt

 

Nvidia Can Suck It

Besides the growing monotony of repeating an action over and over until I get it right (or quit in disgust), the worst thing I faced in this game was: PhysX. That's right, Nvidia's little program that...does...something. Hell if I know what it's supposed to do, but I know what it *actually* does: it screws up the game. Early on there's a point where I had to escape an office building (yes, that happens a LOT in this game: gunfire, running, screaming, falling, reloading...I just can't stress that enough, can I?) and my framerates hit the floor.

I'm talking about single-digit fps here, people; and it didn't get any better, just worse. So after three tries to get through that section (lots of stuttering, frame jumps, and bullets perforating Faith), I killed the game and did a little research. Medium story short, it was the fault of PhysX, which could very well be used as evidence against Nvidia when the video card war crimes tribunal is convened. Disabling it caused the game to work beautifully, which was kind of the point of my buying a higher-end video card in the first place. Too bad the very same company is working against me in my quest for excellent graphics and excellent performance.

Still, the game ran smoothly enough after killing PhysX. And then...nearly at the end of the game, after a lengthy sequence in which I was required to climb to the top of a very, very tall atrium via scaffolds -- if I wasn't keen to rip out the throats of the devs with my bare teeth before, I certainly was after that particular little jaunt -- I was told to pick up a sniper's rifle and somehow deal with a certain convoy, which was convoying...conveying, I mean...a certain character's sister...oh, blast it all. I was tasked with shooting out the engines of the convoy that held Faith's sister. Fun enough ("That one looks like one of the devs!" >POW!POW!<), but it was at that point the entire game turned into a slideshow. Despite this, I somehow managed to stop the convoy, sorta, but then I was told that the cops knew where I was and I had to...hooray!...run away through yet another frantic sequence of gunfire and missed falls and autoloaded retries. It's not like this was new, or anything. But this time...ah! This time, the entire game slowed to a crawl! YAY!

And *why* did this happen? Simple, really: my computer BSOD'd earlier in the day (it was my video card's fault), and for some reason the PhysX option was reenabled. Turning it off again resulted in a return to smooth gameplay.

Note to Nvidia: I hate you and all your kind.

alt <---- Crushing Nvidia. Die! Die! Die!

The [Nine] Hells Are Alive With The Sound Of Torment

The music was fine, really. The ambient and background music wasn't irritating, the action music didn't make me reach for the Options menu, and the so-called "theme" song did not make me want to jab an icepick into my eardrums. In short, the music did not inspire in me the irresistable urge to mutilate my sense of hearing and/or the corporeal forms of others, which is all you can ask for in a game these days, I'm afraid.

In detail:

The menu music was pleasant, with blips and boops over a tranquil...whatever. I'm not a music critic, I'm a music *enthusiast.* But I liked it anyway. It went quite well with the clean white of the menu itself.

The action music provided a sense of urgency without being an ordeal of nerve-jangling torment.

The "theme" song, "Still Alive"...well, it was adequate. It's puzzling to me why they named it that; as a developer/publisher/evil corporate wretch, would you *really* want your product's theme song to be confused with Portal's funny little tune of the same name? I don't know who Lisa Miskovsky is and I really don't care (I would urge her to change her name to something snappier and easier to spell, such as "Cher" or "Lipps, Inc."), but she's competent, I guess...although not as good as GLaDOS. However, considering the overbright/washed-out nature of the colors, I think Vienna Teng's "White Light" would have been far more appropriate for the soundtrack. But that song is way too good for the likes of this game, and I apologize to Ms. Teng for the unfortunate association.

Speaking of the soundtrack (or whatever they might call it), there was a bonus CD titled [b]Lisa Miskovsky** Still Alive [The Theme From Mirror's Edge] The Remixes[/b], which is a workmanlike and informative title, unlike -- for example -- the J. Geils Band's "Piss On The Wall," which left so many questions unanswered. For example: which wall? Whose wall? Is it a command or merely an observation? Sadly, I have no curiosity left in my soul to warrant any further investigation into the matter.
[** aka, Chaka Khan.]

However, if you sorta liked the "theme" song (really, it's just the contemporary pop/rock/pseudo-indie noise that blares over the beginning of the credits, present in most forms of media released since Al Jolson's theme song to the Jazz Singer, "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta") and want to stuff your ear canals with variations, then you're in luck. "The Remixes" is not just a clever ploy to sell off disguised copies of Mariah Carey's latest crime against humanity, "My Face Is So Goddamn Weird," no...it is, in fact, chock-full of remixes of the theme song. And that is a lot more impressive, considering that chock-full is a deformalized mutation of the original phrase "choke-full," which means that you'll have had it up to here -- pointing at neck -- with the Remixes before long if you have any musical taste to speak of.

alt <--- Shoe-gazing. Get it? Never mind.



 

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