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Mirror's Edge
An asian woman's face occupies the foreground. She has two long black triangles extending from beneath her right eye, presumably tattoos. She is wearing a black shirt. The white buildings of a city are visible in the background, seen from altitude. The title "Mirror's Edge" lies within a red band that crosses the lower half of the image. Three production company logos are at the bottom of the image.
Developer(s) EA Digital Illusions CE
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Producer(s) Owen O'Brien
Writer(s) Rhianna Pratchett[1]
Composer(s) Magnus Birgersson
Engine Unreal Engine 3[2]
PhysX (hardware supported by nVIDIA GPUs only, acceleration and additional effects are exclusive to the Windows version)[3]
Version 1.01[4]
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release date(s) PS3 & Xbox 360

NA November 12, 2008[5]
AUS November 13, 2008[6]
EU November 14, 2008[7]
Microsoft Windows
NA January 13, 2009[8]
EU January 16, 2009[8]
AUS January 16, 2009[8]

Genre(s) First person, action-adventure, platform
Mode(s) Single-player
Rating(s) ESRB: T
OFLC: M
PEGI: 16+
Media Blu-ray Disc, DVD, download
System requirements Supported OS: Microsoft Windows XP SP2 or Vista, Processor: 3.0 GHz or faster, Memory: 1 GB RAM or more, Graphics: Microsoft DirectX 9.0c compatible video card, Shader Model 3.0 required. Video card must have 256 MB or more, NVIDIA GeForce 6800 or better, Hard Drive: 8 GB free space, Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
Input methods Gamepad, mouse and keyboard

Mirror's Edge is a single-player first person action-adventure video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts. The game was announced on July 10, 2007, and was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in November 2008. A Windows version was released on January 16, 2009. Mirror's Edge is powered by the Unreal Engine 3 with the addition of a new lighting solution, developed by Illuminate Labs in association with DICE.

The game has a realistic, brightly coloured style and differs from most other first-person perspective video games in allowing for a wider range of actions—such as sliding under barriers, tumbling, wall-running, and shimmying across ledges—and greater freedom of movement, in having no heads-up display, and in allowing the legs, arms, and torso of the character to be visible on-screen. Mirror's Edge is set in a society where communication is heavily monitored by a totalitarian regime, and so a network of runners, including the main character, Faith, are used to transmit messages while evading government surveillance. In the style of a three-dimensional platform game, the player guides Faith over rooftops, across walls, and through ventilation shafts, negotiating obstacles in parkour fashion.

Mirror's Edge has received mostly positive reviews, with the PC version garnering a Metacritic aggregated score of 81%. The game's uniqueness and its expansive environments have received praise, while criticism has centred on its weakness of plot, and short length. A soundtrack featuring remixes of the final credits song "Still Alive" by Swedish singer Lisa Miskovsky (unrelated to the song of the same name featured in 2007 game Portal) was also released. A side-scroller version of the game for the Apple iPhone is currently under development, and is slated for release in April 2010. In a 2009 interview with Videogamer.com, EA Games Europe senior vice president Patrick Söderlund confirmed that a sequel to Mirror's Edge is in production.

Contents

Gameplay

Mirror's Edge aims to "convey [...] strain and physical contact with the environment", according to senior producer Owen O'Brien, and to instill a freedom of movement not yet seen in the first-person genre.[9][10] In order to achieve this, camera movement has been tied more closely to character movement. For example, as Faith's speed builds up while running, the rate at which the camera bobs up and down increases. When a parkour roll is executed, the camera spins with the character.[11][12] Faith's arms, legs, and torso are prominent and their visibility is used to convey movement and momentum. The character's arms pump and the length of her steps increase with her gait, and her legs cycle and arms flail during long jumps.[11][13]

A uniformed character, standing on a rooftop, falls back after being kicked. Two arms and a leg belonging to the player's character are visible.
Mirror's Edge features a realistic first-person view, with the character's limbs visible during hand-to-hand combat.

In gameplay, the character's momentum becomes an asset. The player must attempt to conserve it through fluidity of physical actions, encouraging the creation of chains of moves.[14] If Faith does not have the momentum required to traverse an object, she will fall off or short of it.[15] Controls are simplified by being context-sensitive; the "up" button will cause Faith to traverse an obstacle by passing over it (i.e., by jumping, vaulting, climbing, or grabbing set pieces like zip lines) while the "down" button will cause her to perform other manoeuvres like sliding, rolling, or crouching.[15][16] To assist the player in creating these chains of moves, the game employs a system called "Runner Vision", which emphasises environmental pieces useful for progression. Certain pipes, ramps, and doors are highlighted in red as Faith approaches, allowing the player to instantly recognise paths and escape routes.[15] Further along in the game, the number of these visual hints is reduced to only the end goal, and the player can opt to turn off this hint system entirely.[14] It is also used to create puzzles in which the player must figure out how to combine the highlighted set pieces into a chain of moves in order to reach the target.[15] Another means of assistance to the player is a system called "Reaction Time", a form of bullet time activated by the player, slowing down time and allowing the player to plan and time their next move without losing momentum or tactical advantage.[16]

The player character can hold weapons, but O'Brien stressed that "this is an action adventure. We're not positioning this as a shooter - the focus isn't on the gun, it's on the person." Gameplay in Mirror's Edge focuses on finding the best route through the game's environments while combat takes a secondary role. Completing the game without shooting a single enemy unlocks an achievement for the player.[9] Consequently, guns may be obtained by disarming an enemy, but when the magazine is empty, it will need to be discarded.[14] Additionally, carrying a weapon slows Faith down; the heavier the gun, the more it hinders her movement. This introduces an element of strategy in determining when to trade agility for short-term firepower.[9][15]

Along with the campaign mode, Mirror's Edge features a time attack mode, where the player must try to complete one of a set of special maps in the shortest amount of time. Best times can be uploaded to online leaderboards, where players can also download ghosts of other players to compete against.[17][18] The maps are unlocked by playing through the campaign mode. According to producer Tom Ferrer, the time trial portions of Mirror's Edge are "bite-sized and short so you can grind them and play them and get faster and faster. It's not like playing an entire level."[19]

Synopsis

Mirror's Edge takes place in a nameless utopian city,[20] where a totalitarian[21] regime (closer in function to an illiberal democracy) has taken over following the events of the "November riots", which took place eighteen years earlier. In Faith's own words, the city was once "dirty and dangerous, but alive and wonderful."[22] The government implemented a policy of invasive surveillance, tracking all forms of electronic communication in order to reduce crime to nearly nonexistent levels and quelling any challenge to its power.[20] An upcoming mayoral election seeks to retain Mayor Callaghan in power to keep the government's control on the city, though a new favoured candidate Robert Pope promises to bring change.

Characters

The main protagonist of Mirror's Edge is Faith Connors, a 24-year-old girl of Eurasian ethnicity,[23][24] who has a distinctive design around her right eye, imitated by the game's logo. Faith earns her living as a "Runner", a courier who carries physical communiques around the city, her services retained by revolutionary groups who avoid communicating via highly-monitored telephone and e-mail channels.[9] Faith's attitude towards the totalitarian government is rooted in her past; her parents were active in protest movements when she was young, campaigning to keep the city from shifting to the oppressive regime. Her mother was killed during the November riots—a peaceful protest gone wrong—and Faith ran away from home when she was 16, living a thief's life on the city streets. Faith became a Runner after meeting Mercury (or Merc), a former Runner who now trains new hires, sources jobs for them, and provides them with intelligence and radio support while on the job.[25] Other characters include Faith's twin sister, Kate Connors, an officer with the city police, and Faith's friend Celeste, another of Merc's Runners.[26]

Plot

Faith, after completing a delivery to fellow Runner Celeste, learns from Merc that her sister Kate may be in trouble at Pope's office. When she arrives, she finds Kate standing over the body of Pope, insisting she has been framed for murder and requesting Faith to discover the cause. Faith finds a piece of paper with the name "Icarus" on it in Pope's hand. Kate remains at Pope's office to provide distraction for Faith's escape. From another Runner, Jacknife, Faith learns that Pope's head of security, a former wrestler named Ropeburn, may be connected to Pope's murder. Faith convinces Lt. Miller to set up a meeting with Ropeburn to allow her to overhear any details. At the meeting, Ropeburn discovers Faith's presence and attacks her, but Faith gains the upper hand and throws him off the roof. As he is hanging above a long drop, she tries to interrogate Ropeburn, but before he can reveal anything he is killed by an unknown assassin.

Lacking other leads, Faith investigates the security firm that has begun aiding the police force in their crackdown of Runners. She finds they are behind "Project Icarus", a program designed to train their forces in parkour to chase and fight the Runners. Evidence also leads Faith to the trial of Ropeburn's assassin to a boat in port; after chasing the assassin, Faith discovers she is actually Celeste, who is now a part of Icarus under collusion to keep herself safe, and warns Faith to consider the same. The arrival of the police allows Celeste to escape.

With Kate convicted for Pope's murder, Merc has arranged the police convoy transporting her into an ambush spot for Faith, and Faith is able to help Kate run free. When Faith returns to her hideout, she finds it has been attacked, Merc on the edge of death and Kate recaptured. In his dying words, Merc tells Faith that Kate is now at the Shard, Mayor Callaghan's office and where the main servers that run the city's monitoring systems are located. With Miller's help, Faith is able to enter the Mayor's private offices, destroying many of the servers to gain access to the roof. On the roof she finds Kate held at gunpoint by Jacknife. Jacknife reveals he too is part of Icarus, and has been part of the plan all along to lure the Runners out of hiding. When Jacknife tries to take Kate onto a waiting helicopter, Faith is able to jump on, knocking Jacknife out of the helicopter and falling to his death but also damaging the helicopter in the process. Faith helps Kate to escape safely from the falling helicopter.

During the end credits, media reports that Faith's actions have only served to intensify Project Icarus, and Faith and Kate are still wanted for Pope's murder. However, with the electronic servers down, the population is cautioned to avoid using electronic means of communications until the servers are restored.

Development and release

In 2007, DICE creative director Ben Cousins told GameIndustry.biz that the studio was looking to create "something fresh and interesting", anticipating a need to diversify away from the successful Battlefield franchise the studio was known for.[27]

In June 2007, Computer and Video Games magazine revealed that DICE was working on a game called Mirror's Edge, which was expected to "shake up the [first-person shooter] genre".[28] On July 10, 2007, Mirror's Edge was officially announced by Electronic Arts, and at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in February 2008, the first demonstration of gameplay was shown.[16] A video featuring entirely in-game footage was released at the Sony PlayStation Day in London on May 6, 2008.[29]

The art direction grew out of the gameplay. We wanted to give people a sense of the world very quickly and move through it very quickly. We initially stripped out all of the colors and then just put in red [to guide people to objectives]... I wanted a game where I could look at a screenshot and say, "Hey, that's Mirror's Edge."

Owen O'Brien[20]

Mirror's Edge has a distinct visual style, with the outdoor environments predominantly featuring white and distinctively lacking in green, punctuated by deliberate use of strong primary colours. According to Senior Producer Owen O'Brien, the stylistic choice allows the player to focus on the Runner Vision guidance, as well as serving as a health meter; the colours become more desaturated as Faith starts to take damage.[20] Because development of Mirror's Edge began before DICE's own Frostbite Engine was completed, the game uses Epic's Unreal Engine 3. A lighting system called "Beast" was developed for the Unreal Engine by Illuminate Labs in association with DICE. The new software would accentuate the different art style of Mirror's Edge, by allowing for the reflection of colours as well as light.[2][30] In order to address the issue of simulation sickness associated with the free movement of the camera in first-person view, a small reticle was placed in the centre of the screen. The reticle serves as an aiming and focal point, preventing dizziness in similar fashion to the dance technique called spotting. Aside from this reticle (which can be hidden by the player), no heads-up display exists in the game.[20][31]

The demo for Mirror's Edge, consisting of the game's prologue chapter, was released via the PlayStation Store on October 30, 2008,[32] followed by the Xbox LIVE Marketplace on October 31. On November 7, 2008, DICE announced that Mirror's Edge had achieved gold status, and PS3 and Xbox 360 versions would be shipping to retailers on November 13.[33] On January 16, 2009, a Microsoft Windows version of the game was released.[8] The PC version features support for NVIDIA's PhysX, adding detail and physics to glass, smoke and soft materials. The game includes the SecuROM v7.x (activation based) DRM software,[34] unless bought from Steam.[35]

The game is at the centre of EA's conflict with EDGE Games, a California-based development studio.[36][37] EDGE Games is not related to Edge magazine beyond the licensing of its trademark. In September 2009, EA petitioned to have EDGE Games' trademarks cancelled, alleging continued threats of legal action. Tim Langdell, president of EDGE responded by accusing EA of engaging EDGE in settlement talks as a "play for time". Langdell's company claimed true legal ownership of the phrase "Mirror's Edge" among other variations of "Edge".[38]

Marketing campaign

Buyers who pre-ordered Mirror's Edge at Game Crazy received a code that unlocked a time trial portion of the demo, as well as a Mirror's Edge-themed t-shirt. A time trial code was also included in GameStop preorders, along with a yellow "Runner Bag" resembling the messenger bags used in the game.[39] Preorders from UK retailer GAME included a Mirror's Edge-edition Fenchurch t-shirt.[40] The game could also be bought through the Electronic Arts website, where a package deal with a red Timbuk2 messenger bag was available. The bag featured the game's logo on the outside, while the inside featured a portrait of Faith.[41]

Comics

During Comic-Con 2008, DICE announced it would create a limited-run comic book adaptation of the game together with DC Comics division WildStorm.[42] The comic is drawn by Matthew Dow Smith and written by Rhianna Pratchett.[43]

Soundtrack

On October 7, 2008, EA announced the release of a remix album featuring the Mirror's Edge theme song "Still Alive" by Swedish musician Lisa Miskovsky. Contributing artists included Benny Benassi, Junkie XL, Paul van Dyk, Teddybears and Armand Van Helden. "Still Alive" is also the name of the closing credits song of 2007 game Portal; the two tracks are unrelated.[44] The album, titled Still Alive – the Remixes, was released on November 11, 2008.[45] In May, the Mirror's Edge Original Videogame Score was released in online-only form. The album was composed by Swedish electronic musician Magnus Birgersson.[46][47]

Reception

 Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
Metacritic 81% (PC)
79% (Xbox/PS3)[48]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com A-[49]
Computer and Video Games 9/10[50]
Edge 5/10[51]
Electronic Gaming Monthly A-, B+, B[52]
Eurogamer 8/10[53]
Game Informer 8/10[54]
GameSpot 7/10 (Xbox 360)[55]
IGN 8.3/10 (PC)[56]
7.4/10 (PS3)[57]
Official Xbox Magazine 9.5/10[58]

Mirror's Edge has received mostly positive reviews, with score aggregator Metacritic reporting scores of 81% for the PC version and 78% for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions.[48] Official Xbox Magazine gave the game 9.5 out of 10, praising its "brilliant sense of motion and gameplay". Play awarded it 9 out of 10,[59] while GameTrailers.com gave it 8.3 out of 10.[25] Computer and Video Games was also positive, calling it "A brilliant and unique experience, even if the small shooting parts aren't quite up to scratch."[50] IGN awarded the game 8.3 out of 10, calling it a "thrilling and stylish venture", but "the first chapter of a franchise that's still finding its feet."[57] GameSpot praised the immersive gameplay environments, but criticised the inconsistency of gameplay speed.[55] Ian Bogost of Gamasutra commended the game for being unconventional, calling it "a shooter that makes you hate to shoot".[60]

An asian woman wearing a black shirt is visible in the right-hand side of the image. She has tattoos around her left eye and on her right arm. White buildings and a red construction crane are visible in the background beneath a dark blue sky.
Instead of computer-rendered cutscenes, Mirror's Edge uses animated sequences to move its story along. Reviewers were divided in their opinions of the stylistic choice.

Edge gave the game 5 out of 10, stating that the levels felt contrived and that there was no true freedom through the levels, merely multiple preordained paths.[51] The Guardian noted the game's short length,[61] and many reviews criticised the "trial and error" nature of the play.[19][62][63] Despite giving the game a score of 8 out of 10, Eurogamer dismissed the storyline as rambling, adding that "[Mirror's Edge] is going to divide audiences down the middle... Some will be able to overlook the gaping flaws, but others will never appreciate its moments of brilliance, and both positions are justifiable... "[64] Other issues raised were the stylistic choice of animated cutscenes,[56] and the "cramped" feel of some of the levels.[51][65]

The developers initially projected a total of three million copies of Mirror's Edge to be sold,[66] and in February 2009, Electronic Arts reported sales of over one million.[67]

Expansions and sequels

Floating, interconnected yellow and white blocks are seen from below. The sun shines in the left hand side of a deep blue sky
The time-trial maps feature a "more abstract aesthetic" than the main game.

On December 4, 2008, EA announced the creation of seven all-new time trial maps for Mirror's Edge, slated for release in January 2009. According to Owen O'Brien, Senior Producer for DICE, “The freedom of movement and control in first person has been the most popular aspect of Mirror’s Edge so we decided to distill these down to their purest form for this map pack... We deliberately chose a more abstract aesthetic that is still within our distinctive art style and then focused on flow and gameplay to create an experience and challenge very different from the main game.”[68] In January 2009, the release date was specified as January 29.[69] The release was delayed until February 19, 2009, when the 'Time Trial Map Pack' was made available as downloadable content for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC.[70] An eighth map is available exclusively for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.[71]

A side-scrolling browser game interpretation of Mirror's Edge titled Mirror's Edge 2D was released by Electronic Arts in conjunction with independent developer Borne Games. The game is similar to and uses the modified engine of Borne's popular game Fancy Pants Adventures.[72] A one-level beta was released on November 11, 2008, with an expanded three-level beta released on February 24, 2009. The developer's site states that "the full Mirror’s Edge 2D has been released, but we’re still in beta."[73] A version of Mirror's Edge for the iPhone and iPod Touch was announced on December 2, 2009. It will be a side-scrolling game with 3D graphics, featuring 14 levels and dynamic camera angles, and was scheduled for release in January 2010.[74][75] It was then later revealed that it was pushed back to an April release.[76]

In October 2008, the game's senior producer, Owen O'Brien, suggested that "the story we're telling at the moment is kind of a trilogy, a three-story arc."[77] In a June 2009 interview with Videogamer.com, EA Games Europe senior vice president Patrick Söderlund confirmed that a sequel to Mirror's Edge is in production.[78] In January 2010, Karl-Magnus Trodesson of DICE declined to comment on the sequel, explaining that DICE "[hasn't] officially announced that we're working on it."[79]

References

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