Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst is the long awaited sequel to 2008’s well acclaimed Mirror’s Edge. The original Mirror’s Edge saw you free running around a white city with splashes of color to guide you along the linear levels and help you find our way.
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst sets you in a more open world environment where you can travel freely from place to place to give you a better sense of story than the first time around. While posing as a sequel, the game actually reboots the story of the original game and starts fresh, explaining more of the protagonist Faith’s origins.
What Is It?
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst has you take on the role of Faith Connors as you run, jump, vault and climb your way around the city of Glass. You are tasked with ferrying deliveries back and forth to various clients around the city, all under the secure eye of Kruger Security. The game begins with Faith being conditionally released from a detention facility after two years of confinement. She then immediately disables her link that allows the dystopian city to monitor her, and begins running again. The game will have you running from one place to another, exploring Faith’s past while at the same time trying to take on the head of Kruger Security, Gabriel Kruger.
Why Should I Care?
The game has made leaps and bounds since the original in 2008. The free running controls have been simplified, confining your movement abilities to two buttons on console controllers. I was playing the PS4 version which required L1 to jump and L2 to slide. You could then use these in various ways, for example holding L1 to make a large jump or vault over and obstacle instead of simply bypassing it. I then unlocked the ability to use L2 to tuck my legs in the air allowing for greater ease in traversing the open world. The simplicity of using only a few buttons helped keep my mind on travel and gave me more time to think than the original did.
The upgrade system in the game is a new addition. The game divides the upgrade trees into three separate categories of movement, combat and gear. Your movement tree is already mostly unlocked and the only abilities you would need to upgrade for would be rolling or wall jumping, abilities that you possessed in the previous game. The combat tree has one or two combos to learn but the majority revolves around increasing your damage to different types of enemies. Finally gear contains upgrades for your new toys, the magrope and disruptor. The upgrade system never felt constricting at all and served as a way to mark progress through the game in terms of ability alongside progression through the story.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst also expands upon its predecessor with an open world. While the feeling of an open city instead of linear levels was a nice touch, it doesn’t add anything to the game. The open world is not something to really be explored and acts more of a hub area to go from one mission to another and to find collectibles. The extra challenges like deliveries and runner courses are dotted around the map and it’s interesting to explore different ways of reaching your objective.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
The game is all about parkour. There is more emphasis on the story this time around, but I generally found it to be a shallow excuse to push you from one waypoint to the next. I admire DICE’s decision to set Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst in an open world but I feel like the decision was made out of necessity for the sake of making a longer title. In reality the game could have easily been just as enjoyable with more linear level-based design.
Catalyst is a great looking game. The design is similar to the first where color splashes on a white background attract the eye, making obstacles pop out and turns the city of Glass into what seems like a living, breathing painting. The story this time around really puts across the dystopian future feel and the clean but neutral look of the city goes the extra mile to immerse you in the world. While the textures were usually very sharp, at some points when picking up a collectible such as a security chip, the texture when opening the boxes would become blurred and the chip you pull out would essentially look like a cluster of polygons. Texture problems kept occurring, even turning entire rooftops to a mass of pixels. This might not be the case on PC, but I found it disappointing on console.
The game may not ensnare you with its story, but the gameplay is refined and the process of free running over rooftops and stringing together rolls and jumps is incredibly satisfying, and it’s what will keep you playing. The game’s online features allow you to upload custom made runs to your friends and other players, letting them run your creation and compete to beat your time. This feature was a nice addition and it adds post game content to a game that runs too short for its price tag.
The game is certainly worth the bang for its buck but in my opinion, it’s worth it for any true fans of the original. If you just want to run and beat times and be the fastest runner you can, then this is your game. If you come to Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst expecting a vast open world with an enriching story, you will be disappointed.