Mirror’s Edge Catalyst: reboot, prequel or sequel?
Battlefield developer, DICE, returns to the Glass City to give us another go at EA Games' free-running franchise with Mirror's Edge Catalyst.
2008's Mirror's Edge was an under-rated affair on the Xbox 360 and PS3. The parkour-inspired rooftop running became exhilarating as you got going, but these moments were short lived, coming to an abrupt stop as you stumbled into a wall or missed a jump. Having fired up the PC version recently, the eight-year-old game still has legs. Even so, I'm rather still surprised that EA choose to return to Mirror's Edge and reboot Faith's adventures.
Like it's predecessor, Mirror's Edge Catalyst is played in first-person as you follow the adventures of free-running courier come freedom fighter, Faith, as she negotiates the rooftop of the dystopian Glass City.
Catalyst isn't supposed to be a continuation from the previous game, but it feels as if it could be. The game starts with Faith having just been released from juvenile detention. Meeting up with her old gang, she gets back into the business of delivering items and doing her bit in undermining totalitarian corporations that run the city.
The story is pretty good and, as Faith uncovers the corporation's plans for the city, the ante gets suitably upped, keeping you interested and engaged. I'm still in two minds whether I was playing a prequel to the first game, a sequel or a whole new version. Regardless, it's a top sci-fi tale.
For Mirror's Edge Catalyst, DICE has opened up the city for us. Open world gameplay really suits the free-running game mechanics, giving players the opportunity to practice their skills just running and jumping across the rooftops at their leisure. The more you can get to grips with the parkour, the more fun you are going to have.
Faith's various leaps and slides can also be incorporated into combat moves with flying kicks, sliding tackles and face punches taking down the various security personnel getting in Faith's way. Like the general parkour locomotion, the smoother and more fluid the attack, the more effective the strike
It's a bit weird as first, kicking an opponent in the side of the head, or punching them in the face from a first-person view, and I messed up loads of time. But as I got used to it, like the general movement, itself, it all became rather cool.
Faith can jump, duck, slide and wall-run across the city with increasing dexterity as she unlocks more abilities. The locomotion in the first game was fun, but easily interrupted with a slip-up. This time the movement is more fluid and wholly more enjoyable. At times, it can be quite exhilarating.
Dotted across the city map are various activities, from races, time trial deliveries, challenges and side quests, as well as the main story mission. There's loads to do and it all adds up, earning XP that in turn unlocks upgrade points.
The upgrades some in three flavours, covering movement, combat and gear. You can increase your parkour abilities, fighting moves and even gain a Batman-style grappling device.
It is a beautiful-looking game. The sterile whites of the city, it's glass spires shining under a perfect blue sky, make for a visual treat. Those clean lines are punctuated by red highlighted objects that are at once a very stylish colour contrast and serve to help you to find your route to your destination.
If I have to split hairs about the graphics, it would be that the background does get a bit muddy on the Xbox One. But overall the game looks great and runs at a stonking pace. For PC owners, it's a different story.
I also got the chance to play the game on a PC equipped with a brand-new Geforce GTX 1080 and the graphics setting turned right up to “Hyper”. At this setting, the already impressive visuals take on an almost animated movie-quality level of detail.
The one real criticism that I have with this game is that it is a bit too similar to its predecessor and in that respect, it lacks originality. Granted, most players will not have just played through the first game (or, indeed, have played it at all). The Magrope changes things up later on in the game and the open world aspect is a much better approach, but it is very much the same game.
Mirror's Edge Catalyst takes the mechanics of its eight-year-old predecessor and polishes them up to give us and enjoyable and sometimes exhilarating game. It offers a very similar experience to the last game, but without the frustrations. You could almost say that the two are too similar, but hey, don't fix what's not broken.