The original Mirror’s Edge has become a cult classic, loved by its fans but mostly forgotten by the general gaming population. Despite featuring many interesting and unique ideas (for the time) EA just failed to garner interest and the game just faded into the background, and this makes the sequel all the more intriguing. Even with little interest from the general game player DICE still brought us a sequel to the original even if it was many years later, and with it they brought us a fun and refreshing experience that leaves you wanting more for better or worse.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst brings DICE’s franchise back to the attention of the gaming public, but it doesn’t do it by relying on the familiar. The core gameplay may remain the same but DICE has gone all out to build a bigger adventure that seeks to evolve the franchise, Catalyst can be thought of as a re-imagining or a reboot of the franchise making this entry fine for newcomers as well as veterans.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst sees series protagonist Faith explored a lot more than the previous game delving into her family and her own reasons for running, all of which are important to the games narrative. The main story sees Faith getting released from prison and immediately getting drawn into her old life of running, performing burglaries, and making money for what she does best. Faith is drawn back to old friends and acquaintances who are a mixture of forgettable and interesting depending on the scene and what is happening, what really counts was Faith’s own personal attachment which at least sells Catalyst’s story of conspiracy and intrigue.
The story of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is constantly intriguing and really captures your interest right from the start, it has many enjoyable twists and turns which keep things interesting and it really wraps you up with every critical point. There is a great amount of investment presented by the narrative that really pushes you to keep going and want to run to the next major point to see where it will take you next, and see what problem or development will next come Faith’s way.
This follow up expands upon the formula of the original game, rather than going level by level Catalyst presents a massive overworld for the player to explore. The overworld allows us to explore the world of Mirror’s Edge and feel more like a runner than ever before, and part of this is through the usage of side content.
Numerous tasks are scattered across the rooftops of the dystopian setting of Glass, Faith can take on many challenges such as using her parkour abilities to collect a wide variety of collectables. The City also offers multiple time trial style missions which have you running to a set location before time runs out, these missions are challenging but do grow tiresome on repeated try’s and there are often only so many ways to traverse the set path.
This is a problem that also extends further into the open world itself, each new area is initially exciting and from a graphical standpoint they are stunning, but after a certain amount of time the world becomes tedious. There are only so many tools at Faith’s disposal, and there is only so many ways that you can climb a wall, after so long you begin to feel like you have done it all before. From a world building perspective and even a narrative perspective the open world is great, but there is only so long before the bright city becomes tiresome and you start ensuring that all fast travel points are available.
While the overworld does grow stale the same cannot be said for many of the games main missions, most of the time these are set in their own self-contained environments and offer plenty of thrills from Mirror’s Edge Catalyst’s unique parkour system. In many of the games setpieces you feel clever and fast as you navigate the maze like design wall running and ledge jumping your way throughout, then at the same time also avoiding many of the games numerous problems that force you to think quick and use the environment to avoid trouble. There are also many moments that ask you to take a leap of faith to make a large gap and these sections are where the game shines making you feel really great as you recover your breath. These sections just become better as the game reaches its conclusion and you take on some truly incredible and breathtaking feats.
Everything about the game is about momentum, moving quickly through an environment to make large gaps, or constantly running to maintain a certain balance. This is what Faith is all about and ties into the games combat system, momentum allows you to make heavier attacks, recover lost health, and even create a shield overall building a solid if not simple system. Combat is mostly built on a basic combo system, you can choose to use your arms and legs to attack quickly although this usually loses momentum, instead it is encouraged that you use the environment and find ways to air kick your enemies or use your momentum to deliver a swift hit. It was amazing how intuitive and enjoyable this system was, there are rare moments where it gets tedious or overwhelming but it makes use of the games core mechanics well and never tries to be something it isn’t.
As you complete missions or time trials in the game you are given experience points that can go towards unlocking upgrades to make the game better. Some of these follow core mechanics from the game such as a roll which is baffling as an upgrade, but there are multiple other skills that help you to move faster through the environment or assist in combat situations. Some abilities you can unlock include the disruptor which can mess around with enemies, there is also a grappling hook that is unlocked through the story but expanded through the upgrade system.
This grappling hook becomes a worthy feature for the game offering new forms of traversal without ever making you too free, it never really improves places like the overworld in the long run but it does add a slight bit of diversity to your approach. Its implementation during missions is also notable allowing you to soar to great heights and cross larger gaps, though it never makes things to easy and is only used when necessary.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst offers some great moments as well as many enjoyable ideas and the things that work you want more of, but for what works there is also many shortcomings. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst will likely be a game that will be forgotten quickly by many and will become like the original and be loved by a certain audience. Despite all this there is a lot of fun to be had with this game and by the time you hit its conclusion you want to play more, hopefully when the next game shows up they will offer an experience that benefits from the positives and evolves.