Mirror’s Edge Catalyst (Available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Mirror’s Edge Catalyst T for teen because of mild language and violence. This ultra-unique world is quite unlike anything else out there, and while there’s violence, it’s not over the top. The entire game plays in first-person, however it’s not a shooter, so there are no weapons at your disposal, just your two hands and feet. I could see some pre-teens really enjoying this and given the subject matter it’s really not much of a stretch to allow them to play it. That said, really young kids likely wouldn’t be able to come to terms with the complex controls.
Plays Like: If you experienced 2008’s Mirror’s Edge you know exactly what to expect here, with the main difference being Faith’s new adventure is featured within an open world. You still have access to a wide assortment of Parkour moves, as you make your way through the game’s scripted storyline.
Review Basis: I picked up the Collector’s Edition, which is incredible by the way, and played through the storyline, tackled a wide assortment of dashes, and finished all of the side-missions. Total play time was around 12 hours or so.
I’ve got to be open about something, I absolutely loved 2008’s Mirror’s Edge, I really did, however I sucked so badly at is. It’s one of those games that you love to play, even though you aren’t any good at it. The same is true for Catalyst. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I died while I playing through the game, and yet at no time did it ever become frustrating. That says something, it means the game comes together in such a way that it remains fun throughout the adventure regardless of your skill level, and that is excellent news because there’s some real fun to be had here.
There’s nothing else on the market quite like Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. The game is inspired by the incredible feats of Parkour practitioners. Faith, the protagonist, can whisk alongside walls, vault over obstacles, and roll to safety from high jumps. When all of the pieces come together, it’s breathtaking to see and play, because you truly feel empowered to travel anywhere in this open city, however you’d like. It really is an amazing feeling of freedom.
- The more you play, the better you get. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is one of those game where the player’s skill level dramatically improves as they play. While at first it may seem impossible to run along a wall, leap to another wall, ascend a small obstacle, and then vault over a balcony just to roll land to the questionable safety of a high wire 2,000 feet above street level. In time, you’ll be doing this and much more with precision you never thought possible.
The upgrade system works well, although it feels a little bizarre unlocking some key moves Faith should already have given her skill set from the previous game. Every time you score 1,000 points you’re able to unlock a new upgrade, which is broken down into movement, combat, and gear trees. I recommended focusing on movement upgrades first as these allow you to reach your objectives much quicker than your default move list.
Freedom to explore and the incredible wealth of collectibles will keep you coming back for more as you get to focus on what the game does best, running, jumping, and using the environment to your advance. From collecting over 300 gridleaks, to achieving a 3-star rating on the dash missions, there’s enough content here to keep you coming back for a very long time to come.
While the city Faith traverses looks quite barren overall, the intricate level design is nothing short of awe-inspiring. This is extremely evident when you try to hack all of the giant billboards located on some of the tallest buildings in the city. When you first arrive you’ll scratch your head trying to figure out how the heck do I get up there, only to realize shortly afterwards that if you do X, Y, and Z, you just might be able to make it. When you finally reach your desired destination, the feeling of accomplishment you get it incredibly rewarding, and the game is littered with these moments, all thanks to the fantastic level design.
The animations and overall graphics look very nice and detailed. Running, jumping, and all other abilities feel spot-on thanks to the little details like the controller vibrating a bit just before you hit the ground from a high jump. You can almost feel the wind in your hands, which is awesome.
The audio is also impressive, beginning with solid voice acting, great musical scores, and fantastic sound effects.
+/- Runner Vision is meant to assist you in showing how to reach your next objective, however I often found it didn’t pop-up quick enough, so there were many moments where I was running along just fine, but then had to stop because I needed to wait and see where I was supposed to go next as it wasn’t overly obvious. The echo also doesn’t show you the optimal path to follow, which gets annoying when you’re trying to deliver a package or complete a dash challenge. In those situations I found trial and error to be best, and often would shut off the echo for periods at a time just to ensure I didn’t take the long way to an objective. A little bit of tweaking could have made this a much better system, such as perhaps being able to upgrade the echo so that its effectiveness was improved over time.
+/- Another element that is sort of a hit or miss is the game’s storyline. On one hand it doesn’t detract from the gameplay in the least, but it surely doesn’t live up to its potential. Faith lives in such an incredibly rich and diverse world that the developers could have done so much with the story, and instead it’s clichéd and predictable. I was truly disappointed by this as I had such high hopes for a sequel that would have dug a little deeper into this near future dystopian city that is controlled by corporations and where people no longer have a voice. Instead we get something terribly generic. Such a shame.
- For everything the game does right with movement, and the fluid nature of the gameplay, the combat feels much less responsive. I get what DICE was trying to do here, allowing you to use your environment to perform flying wall kicks and things like that, but it never comes together as intended. The end result is combat feels slow, clunky and stiff, which is directly counter to everything else the game is trying to do. To make matters worse, there’s a focus meter which once full makes Faith essentially bullet proof, but the only way to fill the meter is by continually moving, however that’s not always an option for some of the combat situation, which drags the game to a halt.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is an incredibly fun game when it fires on all cylinders, however it sputters along at times thanks to some forced combat scenes, and a disappointing storyline. That said, I’m still a huge fanboy of this universe and I can’t recommend this game enough. I adore how unique the gameplay is, and I respect DICE for continually trying something new. Fans of the original game may take some getting used to the open world nature of the game, but I think veterans and newcomers alike will find a lot of fun to be had in this game.
Final Score: 8/10