Game Review: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

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EA finally brought back the Mirror’s Edge series this year after a long hiatus. Will Mirror’s Edge Catalyst be the game everyone was waiting for?

I was one of the very few people to pass on the first Mirror’s Edge game. I remember going into Blockbuster a little while after release and there were endless copies for $20. I still elected not to purchase the game despite the low price. It just didn’t sound that appealing to me. I decided to give Mirror’s Edge Catalyst a chance after seeing the different trailers on it and wondering if I had missed out on something great all those years ago. Results were somewhat mixed.

Mirror's Edge Catalyst
Faith in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

If you’re expecting a great story-driven campaign, you’re going to come away disappointed. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst doesn’t deliver a whole lot when it comes to the story despite the improved cutscenes. It’s an uninspired world with unhappy characters. I don’t think I saw a single smile in the entire campaign. You have to feel like there is some light at the end of the tunnel when playing a game, otherwise, it feels perilous. There wasn’t much in the way of character development. By the end, I didn’t really have any feelings for any of the characters.

As generally pointless as the story was, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst redeems itself a whole lot with its gameplay. Everything happens from Faith’s perspective (except for finishing moves which pan out to a third-person perspective). It’s a totally unique experience that is unrivaled by any other game. You can’t quite beat seeing the world as you’re rolling out of a jump or swinging from a zip line. It’s all pulled together by the great audio like hearing your shoes squeak on the floor or Faith’s hand hit a bar as she swings around it.

The open-world style of Glass really makes it feel like nothing is impossible. Faith can climb pipes, wall-run, jump off one wall to another, use a grappling hook (acquired later in the game), and more. If you can think it, you can pretty much do it (within reason). Stringing along these different movements is fluid and it’s not uncommon to traverse a good portion of the city within a couple minutes because of it.

Mirror's Edge Catalyst
Zip-lines are scattered throughout Glass for easy traversal.

There are a lot of different side activities in Catalyst. These activities range from time trials, user-created events, taking out security boxes and cameras, billboard hacks, and finding documents. Glass is definitely full of things to do long after the main campaign is complete while still not feeling like all the side missions are daunting tasks. All of these side missions and tasks gain you XP to utilize in Faith’s upgrade tree. There you will be able to buy combat abilities, traversal moves, and the useful Disrupt EMP attack. It definitely makes completing those tasks that much more important.

Faith has both a health meter and a bit of shield. The shield is charged by continuous movement. The more you move, the easier it is to take down the K-Sec guards. If you stop moving and attempt to punch your way out of things, you’ll surely wind up dead. The goal is to use an aggressive takedown from the air or off the wall to eliminate guards quickly. I like this style because it makes you utilize more of Faith’s move set and forces you to think outside the box. If you do happen to die, checkpoints are very forgiving and reload times are quick. Catalyst certainly doesn’t punish you for trying something new.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst guides you around the city with a red track and things like pipes glowing red so you know where to go. It’s nice to have this type of guide because there are portions of the game where you just won’t know where to go. It certainly beats a map beacon (although that’s there too).

I’ve read that Faith could use guns in the first Mirror’s Edge. That option is not even available this time around. I don’t know why it ever would have been. Guns do not fit her character at all. The controls are smooth and flow nicely from one attack to another. The HUD also lets you know which direction the enemy is while running. It’s easy to get lost so this is a welcome feature that was absent in the last Mirror’s Edge from what I’ve read.

Mirror's Edge Catalyst
Sentinels are the toughest enemies that Faith has to encounter.

The combat moves are pretty easy to use. It’s directional-based which means that, if you want to kick someone to the left, kick left, and so on. The guards are comical at times throwing themselves off a ledge or over railings after simple kicks. They’ll even die after stumbling into a wall at times. It’s not incredibly realistic, but neither is the entire game. You start to feel fairly strong when jumping off on things and performing aggressive attacks and Faith always feels like she’s one step ahead with her speed. It’s enjoyable and fairly different from any other combat system I’ve used.

I’ve enjoyed Mirror’s Edge Catalyst a lot for what it is, but the fact remains that it could have been a lot better. The campaign is relatively short at about 8-12 hours depending on your skill level and exploring Glass afterward can get dull rather quickly. I would recommend borrowing this games or renting it if possible before buying as it’s possible to complete it in a weekend and be done with it. With that being said, I did have a lot of fun with it and I hope there is a third game in this series.

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