The Real Catalyst
There was a cult following of speed runners, avid gamers, and casual gamers that formed not too long after the release of Mirror’s Edge in November of 2008. Mirror’s Edge managed to do something that almost no other game could, and that was a complete and smooth parkour system that was completely unrivalled. Years later, EA announced that Mirror’s Edge would be getting a sequel, after popular demand. Mirror’s Edge 2 was kept under wraps for a long time, and it was only before E3 in 2015 when fans found out the game would release in 2016, with the title; Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. So does it live up to the hype of all its fans and players around the world?
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst serves as a prequel and origin story to the original. Catalyst makes an effort to delve into Faith’s past, and to explore what got her to where she is today as a runner. After some backstory about the death of Faith’s close family, Faith is released after one year in juvenile detention (If you want to know why, I recommend you read the Mirror’s Edge Exordium comic). The main story follows Faith throughout the dystopian City of Glass. Glass is run and controlled by various corporations, the most relevant being Kruger Holding. Faith gets mixed up in some trouble with Kruger Holding, after trying to pay off a debt she owes to a black market dealer she used to work for, called Dogen. I don’t won’t to go any further to avoid spoilers, so I just want to talk about the story as a whole. I found that Catalyst’s story as a whole was a very mixed bag. Some things were done well, like Faith’s character and background story, but others such as stereotypical characters and an underwhelming plot twist that had much more potential bring the experience down. I really liked Faith’s character, and it was really cool to see her past, and to see what made her who she is, and characters like Icarus and Dogen I grew to like quite a bit. Other characters were extremely stereotypical, and when emotional moments were supposed to affect me, they didn’t. The story isn’t anything special, but some of it is enjoyable. Thankfully, the comic book style cutscenes of the original are gone, and are now replaced by proper cutscenes. Unfortunately, Catalyst’s story isn’t the only mixed bag in the game.
A Restrained Dystopia
When it comes to gameplay, Catalyst strikes more rights than wrongs, and it does all the right things to improve the formula of the original. Mirror’s Edge is all about free running, and finding various ways to your objective. It feels great to nail long jumps, slides, wall runs, and leaps of faith, and in my honest opinion it never got boring. There are however, a few fundamental changes to the formula, some of which are great, and others….. well, not so much. The grapple hook is a fantastic addition to Faith’s arsenal, and it makes for a reliable and fun tool used to traverse Glass. Faith now unlocks skills for combat, traversal and gadgets through a skill tree, which you can move through relatively quickly, and it gives a real good sense of progression. Glass is a big open world, where Faith can get to her destination by her choice. It’s nice to have such a large sandbox to explore and run through, but it feels sparse, barren, and lifeless. There are minimal NPCs and the world is scattered with repetitive side quests like deliver this or deal with these guards. It got really stale, really quick, and I wasn’t motivated to find any of the collectables either, because they simply slowed down the pace i’d built up over time. Glass had so much more potential, but now I just wish they’d stuck with the same system as the original, where you can go from mission to mission without a hub. The combat system has also been vastly changed in Catalyst. Gone is the ability to use firearms (thank god) and the combat system is comprised of dodging and directional hits. Dealing with minimal amounts of enemies is always fun, and it’s quite exhilarating. The ability to jump off walls and kick Kruger Sec guards in the face feels immensely satisfying, but once the combat slows down, the combat becomes a pure drag. It becomes mindless button mashing and dodging, and sometimes that is simply unavoidable. I really wish all of the combat was optional, simply because traversal attacks feel and look awesome, and they would’ve been more than enough to satisfy a need for combat. You can also leave your mark on the world by creating time trials and races for uses to compete in.
Is it really a Dystopia?
There’s no denying that Mirror’s Edge Catalyst runs well. The game ran at 60FPS for the entirety of the campaign, which was delightfully smooth to play. This 60FPS is at the sacrifice of graphical fidelity, but it’s a sacrifice i’m willing to make. The game looks decent, and it shares a very similar art style to the first game. The sound track is absolutely awesome, simply because it’s once again done by Solar Fields. I experienced a few game breaking bugs where I had to restart the game in order to fix it, and that annoyed me quite a bit.
There’s a simple way to define whether or not you’ll like Catalyst. If you liked the original, you will no doubt like Catalyst. It’s really nice to play another Mirror’s Edge game again, and i’m eager to look forward to future instalments. It definitely isn’t perfect, but it’s the Mirror’s Edge we know and love.
-Fantastic parkour system
-Dead open world
-Repetitive side quests
Thanks for reading guys, I might do a post on my E3 thoughts soon. Up next is Kirby though, so that’ll be up later today or tomorrow. Have a great day guys :D. Harry