To this day, I am a big fan of the original Mirror’s Edge. It’s a simple game about movement with a hero I rooted for. I spent a good amount of time after the campaign was over to go back, run again, and get better times. The levels were fun, challenging, and the rewarding feeling of doing a perfect run was great. Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst still captures some aspects of the original, both good and bad. Even though there are glaring issues that got me frustrated at times, the game is still worth playing.

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The story of Catalyst is yet another cluttered blockbuster story about freeing people from an overbearing government. Just like other triple A games that follow this path, I got in the plot every other moment, did not get care about what was going on, nor did I feel satisfied when the story came to a close. Luckily, the characters that Faith interacts with are serviceable. Some characters are much better to listen to than others. For example, Plastic is quirky character that also happens to offer cool side missions. Thane, however, is a character that just spouts out philosophical malarkey that will get on your nerves quickly. The story took me away from the entertainment of free running through obstacles and being able to roam where I want. It frustrated me that bad to sit through. Also, gone are the excellent comic book cutscenes from the first, which makes me sad. The cutscenes here are the typical CGI cutscenes that look good.

This time around, the playground our hero, Faith, gets to roam is much larger. Instead of linear paths of parkour to traverse, the rooftops are open to you. There different paths to take, opportunities that open later in the game that offer chances for bigger rewards, and plenty of runs and collectibles to find. You can also find runs that players around the world have created to test out your abilities. After playing for a handful of hours, I still have mixed feelings about the open world setting. On one hand, it offers some freedom to run as you want. You can throw on your Runner’s Vision to get a clear path to an objective, but you can play the whole game navigating on your own. This new freedom is a good addition. On the other hand, a great majority of the areas that aren’t part of the main missions are very bland and repetitive. On multiple occasions I felt like I was in the same area that I just explored ten minutes earlier. Missions, both main and side, offer different locales and design that challenge players more than the rest of the world. At times, I did miss the linear, simple design of the first games.

There are some really outstanding moments in the missions. At one point, I was scaling a construction site to the very top while making huge leaps that made me hold my breath. Another had me running from enemy fire and avoiding combat. These moments make the game come to life. Though objectives are mostly the same, the design of each mission is excellent. Side missions, especially those with Plastic, mix up the pace of the main story. Traversing your way up a control center without your Runner’s Vision to help guide you is a good puzzle. The open world also comes in handy during some moments in missions or out when you must escape from enemies. The game encourages you to navigate your way out of combat. A Grand Theft Auto-like Wanted meter starts when enemies take notice. These moments are very tense, especially while you have a helicopter trying to find you on the rooftops. However, when you must fight, it’s as clunky and awkward as before. Even though you can upgrade Faith’s movement and fighting abilities, they still don’t help an unnecessary feature in the game.

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There are some really outstanding moments in the missions. At one point, I was scaling a construction site to the very top while making huge leaps that made me hold my breath. Another had me running from enemy fire and avoiding combat. These moments make the game come to life. Though objectives are mostly the same, the design of each mission is excellent. Side missions, especially those with Plastic, mix up the pace of the main story. Traversing your way up a control center without your Runner’s Vision to help guide you is a good puzzle. The open world also comes in handy during some moments in missions or out when you must escape from enemies. The game encourages you to navigate your way out of combat. A Grand Theft Auto-like Wanted meter starts when enemies take notice. These moments are very tense, especially while you have a helicopter trying to find you on the rooftops. However, when you must fight, it’s as clunky and awkward as before. Even though you can upgrade Faith’s movement and fighting abilities, they still don’t help an unnecessary feature in the game.

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My hopes were high for Catalyst. I wanted a game that would finally catapult the series so players can fall in love with it like I have. Unfortunately, there’s just too many flaws that hold it back from greatness. While some issues remain, more flaws appear. In the end, there are moments in Catalyst that make it a game worth playing. The rooftop is your domain, and it’s up to you to decide where to run to. It’s exhilarating to just run aimlessly for some time. If only the rest of the game could keep pace.

Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Good

  • Running mechanics are excellent
  • Excellent visuals
  • Memorable missions

The Bad

  • Story and characters lack any substance
  • Repetitive areas
  • Combat is awful

 

 

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