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Minimalist Designs from Mirror’s Edge

“She’s on the first floor,” the radio blares. I weave down the vivid green hallway with great precision. A helicopter whizzes by the pale-lit windows, “STOP… RUNNING…” it said. A carpet of bullets comes raining down the skylight. Glass shards and debris overwhelm the air, but it does not faze me. I dash my way through a series of orange and black office rooms. Damn, this doesn’t look good; if I don’t get myself out of this building anytime soon, I’m as good as dead. I see a red door up ahead; it must be the exit. I break out into a full sprint, but suddenly a police man lunges at me from the left. I scale the opposing wall to avoid his oncoming assault and dropkick down the door. As I rolled my way out onto the rooftop, the stark white cityscape and brilliant cerulean sky blinds my vision temporarily. The helicopter is making its second round. Don’t look back; just keep running.

My eyes are glued to the TV screen. For the past 3 hours, I’ve been playing this PlayStation 3 game Mirror’s Edge non-stop. I can’t seem to put down the controller because it’s too cool. Not only is this game pumped with hardcore adrenaline action, it is visually intense with its contrasting jubilee of colors.

So what’s the deal with this game? Let’s start off with the story and concept first of Mirror’s Edge. Mirror’s Edge takes place in an alternate reality, where in a nameless city, a totalitarian government regulates and monitors its people with strict surveillance. Within this dystopia, a group of rebels emerge to retaliate. The main protagonist, a girl named Faith, is a messenger (AKA Runner) for the rebels. Her sister, a former cop, was framed for a murder she did not commit. She is captured and awaits trial, while Faith continues to evade the Police. As the story progress, Faith later finds out that the government is not only targeting her, but also other Runners as well. Faith mission is to rescue her sister and avenge for the deaths of other Runners.

As for the game play (Excerpted from Wikipedia.com):
“Mirror’s Edge aims to “convey the 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. This is achieved not only with the exercise of parkour [the art of moving from point A to B in the most efficient way possible], but also by tying camera movement more closely with character movement, such that the rate at which the camera bobs up and down increases as Faith builds up speed while running and the camera spins when she rolls.”

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A typical rooftop cityscape of Mirror’s Edge.

Now that we know the story, let’s talk about the design aspect of the game. The cityscape is mostly bleak; white buildings sparsely contrasted with bright colors, such as yellow, blue, green, and purple. With the Runner’s vision option on, we can spot patches of red here and there to indicate the optimal running line for a Runner. The colors of the interiors in buildings are the most interesting; though they are predominantly one color at a time (a red room will be completely red, or a yellow room will be completely yellow), they are vibrant and sleek. The overall feeling of the game, the architecture, billboard graphics, and corporate company logos, has a minimalistic vibe to it. From the start menu graphics to the virtual world of Mirror’s Edge, there is obviously indication of serious graphic design work done on it. Regardless of the fact that the designs in the game are simple, they work seamlessly together and are effective aesthetically.

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A screenshot of an office room. Notice the overall orange and black theme based off of the corporate company logo on the computer screen.

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A subway station featured in Mirror’s Edge. The walls are white, but are accented with blue and orange colors to spice up the overall Minimalist feel of the level.

http://media.teamxbox.com/games/ss/1794/1205172484.jpgA prison level that was not used in the final version of the game. Though the game designers scrapped this idea, they decided keep the distinct color scheme of white/lime green, and used it frequently in other interior design works, such as hallways, lounges, and elevators.

3 Comments

  1. Bob wrote:

    Very interesting read. I’m surprised no-one else talks about how the buildings have different “color codes”. I generally found it was

    Blue: Transport, security and unfinished sites (Subway)

    Green: Prisons (As pictured)

    Yellow: Media (City Eye Channel News)

    Orange: Industry

    Mix: Private sector offices (Two main ones are Popes office which is green, and his bodyguards which is orange).

    Monday, December 28, 2009 at 8:40 am | Permalink
  2. Dogbro wrote:

    Very interesting reading indeed. Though I am absolutely shocked that you decided to play this game on a lousy PS3.

    Only a good PC can truly bring out the visual, stylistic and graphical beauty that Mirror’s Edge have to offer.

    This should be particularly vital to you as you have taken an interest in the games stylistic environments.

    Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 9:17 am | Permalink
  3. Dogbro wrote:

    has to offer*

    Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink