Mirror's Edge - 4 Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - August 21, 2013
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When considering the graphics and performance of Mirror's Edge, there are three things to keep in mind. First is that it is four years old, second is its minimalist style, and third is its use of PhysX.
Being four years old, Mirror's Edge obviously does not look as good as many modern games. Many textures and meshes are of a low enough resolution that you can see vertices and pixels being blurred. Graphics have improved quite a bit since this game has been released, but despite that, these graphics still hold up well. The reason for this is its minimalist style, as the simple color palette of primarily white, red, blue, yellow, orange, and green makes many imperfections from age unnoticeable, without looking for them. This style is also present in the cel-shaded cinematics.
When I think of Mirror's Edge I cannot help but think of PhysX as well. This is because I have always thought of it as one of the earliest games to use the technology, after NVIDIA acquired it. Of course it is not the earliest, but you can still see its age. For example, windows shatter into larger pieces than you would expect. Cloth flapping and tearing, as well as fog being disturbed, though, look very good. As always, it is little more than eyecandy, but if you can run it, turn it on and enjoy. Running through a glass walkway as bullets fly past you is just much more intense when glass is flying around as well.
Computer specs and performance time:
- Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
- Cooling: Corsair H110
- Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
- GPU: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB
- PhysX: MSI GTS 250 1 GB
- G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
- PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
- OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit
Discussing performance for Mirror's Edge is going to be a bit more complicated than for most games. To achieve the best possible performance, developers will optimize their game or engine. There are different ways to do this and sometimes this leads to white-listed resolutions, meaning the list of resolutions the game can be set to run at are limited to only those the developers allow. As most monitors have a common, standard resolution, such as 1920x1080, this is not an issue. My monitor, however, has the uncommon resolution of 2048x1152, so sometimes a game will not list it as an available resolution. Mirror's Edge does list it though, like many modern games, but unlike many modern games, this slightly higher resolution has a dramatic effect on the game's look and performance.
One would normally expect that when running at a higher resolution, a game will look sharper, as it takes advantage of the addition pixels. That is not the case for Mirror's Edge apparently. The best example of this is the text throughout the game, such as in the main menu. This text is being rendered from a font, a vector graphic, which means that it can be scaled to any resolution without artifacting, unlike image files that will become blurred as they are scaled up. At 2048x1152, the text in Mirror's Edge did have the definite appearance of being scaled up, which should not happen. I decided to ignore this though, thinking it to just be some weird quirk, but really I just did not think about it. I then played the game and in some areas I noticed mild frame-rate drops, probably into the high 30s and 40s, almost always near PhysX objects. Looking back at the screenshots, though, to write this review, I took a closer look at the text and noticed that the scaling is too severe to just be 1920x1080 scaled to 2048x1152, which would have made sense if the text was being scaled. To investigate this I ticked the resolution down one notch to 1920x1080, and suddenly the text became as crisp and sharp as it could be. (By the way, I have my drivers set to not scale; the monitor does the scaling if it does not letter and pillarbox.) Having an idea for what was happening, I went back into the game where it had previously slowed down, greatly. Now I was able to run through the PhysX-heavy areas with almost no FPS drop.
The simplest explanation I can think of is that the developers optimized white-listed resolutions, but did not institute a white-list of selectable resolutions, which would have prevented my 2048x1152 resolution from being listed. That could explain why the performance was significantly better at a slightly smaller resolution. The issue with the text could be some engine-glitch tied to the lack of optimization for my resolution.
So what does all of this mean to you? If you also have a non-standard resolution, it could mean quite a bit, but if all you have is a single 1920x1080 monitor, then it probably does not mean a great deal to you. As I at least alluded to earlier, at that resolution, the game ran very well at the most intense action sequences. There was some minor stuttering, but nothing major and it was not very common. This is at the highest settings the game has to offer, including the highest anti-aliasing.
As the game is so action oriented, I have to admit I failed to notice the music much, as I focused most on what I saw and the sound effects of gunfire and shattering glass. The gunfire sounds quite forceful, especially when you are firing, and the shattering glass has that very noticeable tinkle that you can always hear, no matter what else is going on.