Mirror's Edge PhysX Side-by-Side Videoby Derek Wilson on December 8, 2008 9:00 AM EST
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A little while back, NVIDIA brought us the news that Mirror's Edge for the PC would feature PhysX support and include some neat effects physics. Effects physics, as you may recall, is the physical simulation of things that don't impact gameplay but simply enhance the visual impact of a game. This can range from particle systems to persistent debris enhanced destructibility or more accurate simulation of fluids, smoke or other volumetric effects. The impact is in immersiveness but it doesn't bring game changing aspects of hardware accelerated physics to the table quite yet.
And we haven't seen anything, until Mirror's Edge, that looked promising in terms of adding anything really compelling to a game. The previous video we posted showed some nice potential, but we still haven't gotten the opportunity to play with it ourselves and really feel the difference. We requested a side-by-side video hoping to get a better handle on what, exactly, is improved in Mirror's Edge. NVIDIA delivered.
Here's the original video of Mirror's Edge we posted.
Here is the side by side video showing better what DICE has added to Mirror's Edge for the PC with PhysX. Please note that the makers of the video (not us) slowed down the game during some effects to better show them off. The slow downs are not performance related issues. Also, the video is best viewed in full screen mode (the button in the bottom right corner).
The effects in there can be simulated on either a CPU or an NVIDIA GPU. The advantage to the GPU is performance and NVIDIA indicates that even an Intel Core i7 processor will have a tough time without GPU support. So these effects aren't anything we've never seen before, but it certainly looks like there is just a lot more of it in Mirror's Edge (and not in that really bad too many particles/too much debris sort of way). The glass breaking itself honestly looks the same (or close enough) to us, but the persistent particles are where it's at. Having a little debris stick around and be affected by the character is a nice touch. The cloth, plastic and tarp effects are what look like the real icing on the cake in the game though. The complete absence of the cloth objects when physics is disabled makes an already sparse looking world look pretty empty by comparison.
We still want to really get our hands on the game to see if it feels worth it, but from this video, we can at least say that there is more positive visual impact in Mirror's Edge than any major title that has used PhysX to date. NVIDIA is really trying to get developers to build something compelling out of PhysX, and Mirror's Edge has potential. We are anxious to see if the follow through is there.
Extending this story is the fact that today NVIDIA is announcing that EA and 2K games have both licensed PhysX and will be working with NVIDIA to include the technology in future titles they publish. All EA and 2K development studios will now have license to develop with PhysX for all platforms. This means Mirror's Edge may not be the only EA title going forward to get the PhysX treatment, and 2K will bring PhysX to the table with Borderlands (which is being developed by Gearbox).