Published on July 26th, 2016 | by David Guild0
Review: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
After eight or so years, we finally see a sequel reboot of the cult classic Mirror’s Edge by EA’s DICE. Back in 2008 when the original game came out, it was a breath of fresh air. It was a game based on getting from point A to point B using a form of free running or parkour. The game placed you on the rooftops of Glass a utopian city and one little slip can send you crashing to the ground. There was some combat involved and at times the gunplay felt forced upon you but the game was fun but sadly it wasn’t enough to score a sequel, which takes us to Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.
The game was officially revealed at the EA conference at E3 back in 2013 and as the video went it looked it was going to be a prequel of the original game as we were shown the origin of Faith but it didn’t take long for EA to announce that it wasn’t a prequel or sequel. As the development went on we heard that Faith will no longer use guns and that the game will be open-world which got to big thumbs up from this man. Catalyst was sounding more and more like how the first game should’ve been.
So first up Mirror’s Edge Catalyst once again takes place in the dystopian city of Glass, Faith has just been released from Juvenile prison and it doesn’t take her long to return to the rooftops and become the runner she once. It’s a world where Corporations are in control of everything, even the city’s law enforcement. Everyone gets chipped and under the every watchful eye of big brother, so you either get in line or you’re part of the problem. The runners live as outlaws who live off the Grid on the rooftops of the city, who make their way doing courier jobs.
As Faith returns to her outlaw lifestyle of a runner she retrieves a hard drive and seen by the CEO of Kruger Security, in which starts a series of events of K-Sec trying to take down the runners and recover the hard drive.
Personally for me, I never found the story of Mirror’s Edge all that memorable, it’s the kind of story we have heard before of a futuristic dystopian run by corporations, something is always quite shifty but the people are controlled by the corporations who own the law but a select few always rise up. Games, movie and anime have used the structure for years and this won’t be the last. The story also starts you off running and doesn’t really slow down, once Faith is out of Juvy she’s straight in to the action and before you know it you’re introduced to a bunch of forgettable characters and the tutorial. But Mirror’s Edge never had to rely on the story, the city of Glass and the thrill of running on the roof tops was good enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.
As I mentioned before Mirror’s Edge Catalyst has changed to an open world game which would perfectly suit this style of game if the story was more interesting but maybe it’s just me but I usually just prefer a more linear approach, though I could be suffering from open-world fatigue. Though I should make the case that when I was enjoying the game, it was fun making my own way through and to a mission. It didn’t feel like I was on a track but it gave me more options, the routes that were obvious would mostly likely be the slower path to take while if you had time you could use your skills to find a faster route but that is the problem, if you had time. Navigating the area can be a challenge, especially in a world I thought had very little landmarks but thankfully you will have Runner’s Vision which is pretty much your GPS device. It will let you follow a trail to help you find a route to your next waypoint, but that path was usually the obvious path once you see it, so on time critical missions it wasn’t the best option.
When not doing missions, the world is filled with collectibles, time trails and side missions which can all give you experience that can be used to give or upgrade Faith’s skills and it will also fine tune your own experience in controlling Faith. While not highly skilled at Mirror’s Edge, I was comfortable with my abilities to navigate an area flawlessly but when I started playing Catalyst it was like learning to walk again. Even in the tutorial I managed to screw up simple jumps and tricks, and yes I may be a little rusty not playing the game with its unique controls, I shouldn’t have struggled.
My main problem with Catalyst was the combat, DICE mentioned they wanted to focus the player to keep Faith moving and only having to stop to fight when she really needed to but that wasn’t the case. With the introduction of new and stronger enemies, sometimes running wasn’t possible and the game gives you a list of combos you can use to take down each enemy but I ended up being a one trick pony and using the same move over and over again just like when I use to play Street Fighter 2 when I was a kid and spammed Hadoken just so I could win. Yes, I liked the removal of Faith using a gun but the ranged enemies really made the game a struggle to switch on. Faith is like the T-1000 in which it takes a bizarre number of bullets to take her down, this is due to Runner’s shield. Now I can believe Runner’s Vision, if your proficient at a task or hobby you will start seeing ways to make yourself more efficient, plus in this dystopian city everyone is connected to some network, which can be used to give you some TomTom like abilities to navigate to a way point but Runners Shield … there’s no way to explain that in the realms of possibility, just makes the game that little more farfetched.
It’s not all bad though, there’s user created content in the form of custom time trails. You can create and share a course so people can challenge people to beat your time. As I said from the start, for me Mirror’s Edge has always been about the parkour and how excited I get running to a destination and that’s still fun, when you are not encountering waves of enemies. With every gigantic leap of faith to a rooftop I’m holding my own breath and killing brain cells while playing the game. So giving players the chance to create their own routes is pretty fantastic addition to the game.
The world is breath taking and the Frostbite engine always pleases but I did notice some texture pops but I couldn’t fault the framerate which is important in this kind of game. Plus the music is fantastic, even though it’s not Lisa Miskovsky’s Still Alive from the original game, Chvrches did an outstanding job with Warning Call, I happily bought the track.
In the end while it was great to see another Mirror’s Edge game, I just wasn’t as impressed this time round and that’s mostly thanks to the dull combat in the game. I don’t mind having enemies but I rather have the thrill of the chase than having to combat enemies or figure out how to pass an area with guards who have machine guns. Mirror’s Edge should be about the movement of Faith to rooftop to rooftop which is does extremely well. I would’ve preferred to see a more linear game, yea I love the parkour but there’s a time when it can be a bit much but without the open world design you really couldn’t have the user created time trails which I enjoyed. So I guess it balances it out.
I didn’t play the game non-stop like the last but I hope the game finds its feet and it won’t be the last time we see Mirror’s Edge. There’s a magnificent game just bursting to get out, EA just needs to listen more to the fans, keep the combat a minimal and give us a better story.