Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Review

The original Mirror’s Edge from Scandinavian developers DICE was a breath of fresh air when it released way back in 2008 and is one of my most memorable games of the period having released on consoles and PC. For me its charms were the fact its a first person action game without the emphasis of shooting and being a fan of Namco’s “Breakdown” – go look it up – the first person combat appealed to me. It was also one of the few games to nail parkour which has become more popular nowadays. I think back then I could excuse the dodgy characterization, the lack of freedom and the overly bloomed visuals, but today there’s greater expectation. So, when EA DICE announced a sequel I was overjoyed, ecstatic actually because it’s been long overdue. Excitement aside though there was always a niggling doubt in my mind as to whether Mirror’s Edge was one of those game that just didn’t need a sequel and perhaps with the release of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst that idea might not be such a bad thing.

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Lead character Faith returns after spending some time in jail after all the crap that went down in the first game. There’s a bit of backstory to her, and her sister’s past, but the real meat comes from being able to explore the city and perform all those action moves – knowledge of the first game isn’t really a must here. A major upgrade from the original which I absolutely adore is being able to freely move across zones of which more unlock as you progress the story. This gives the whole game a much more open feel which the original lacked. With an open world game here this time means there’s a selection of side activities you can undertake such as deliveries under a time limit, collecting items, entering hard to reach locations and more. The city simply has a variety of stuff to do which in many ways is great and if you’re online connected then you can make your own time trial runs and share them with the wider community.

There’s a lot of pluses in Catalyst which it’s hard to argue against except it’s not all plain sailing though because there’s some poor combat moments which I really didn’t like so much. Sure, there was combat in the original (which I enjoyed) and you had a choice of picking up guns at the expense of mobility but here it’s handled differently where mistakes can cause mission failures – and this time you can’t pick up weapons. The combat has been revised to offer more attack moves but it just doesn’t sit right with me and feels a bit forced to make the game more action packed in a contrived way. Instead now I’d rather evade and escape than be made to fight uninspiring goons in set pieces.

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Aside from the combat, the parkour is pretty good and arguably the best part of the Mirror’s Edge experience. Running, jumping, climbing, mantling it’s all here and when keeping momentum going once you’ve learned the lay of the land is rather intuitive. In fact anyone can easily pick up and play in this regard which is plus point. For me, having the city at my finger tips is great where I can simply run around and goof about without much need for anything else if I choose. But again, the game does want to trip you up by forcing you into situations which pull you out of being free – such as guards spotting you and then having to evade a patrol helicopter which just plain sucks the fun out of the free-running.

Visually, the city looks more alive than before although the graphics aren’t as sharp or distinctive as they were in the original. There’s more movement and video billboards to look at making for environments which feel more like a lived in city than just a play area. I like the art direction here, but then I also enjoyed the minimalist look of the original which gave it a uniqueness that’s not present anymore.

Solar Fields return to provide an enchanting ambient soundtrack which is great and I think there’s no other style that would fit the game more, so a big thumbs up for maintaining the same theme. The voice acting is also a bit more edgy this time with much more drama, but I can’t say I like any of the characters to be honest. The first character you meet is a typical I’m better than you nob head, who later wants to be your friend which I found uninspiring and totally cliche. There’s drama a plenty told via some nifty scenes but for me the story just didn’t feel like it was engaging enough to keep me enthralled, I simply expected more.

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I’m glad I get to play another Mirror’s Edge game as 8 years is a long break but I feel they[DICE] could have done a lot more with the game rather than merely offer an open world play ground to dip in and out of. I’ve enjoyed the experience but the negatives do get in the way of what would be a worthy sequel. I believe I can be confident to say it doesn’t really improve on the original much and in some instances takes a few steps back even.

I can recommend the game to fans seeing as I’m one of them and I still got plenty of satisfaction playing this, but if you’re here for the story, the action sequences then you might be a little underwhelmed. If you can ignore the pitfalls though there’s a sound parkour game here where the open ended nature is fun to play with in smaller doses.

Score 8/10

Review code supplied by Team Xbox.

Written by: Andrew Banks

Andrew loves all genres of video games and has been playing them since he was 5 years old. Many years later and the passion is still there.

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