Mirrors Edge Catalyst Review – Faithful Formation (PS4)
It has been nearly eight whole years since the original Mirror’s Edge released. The series has always been divisive – you either loved it, or hated it. It’s been a long road to get this sequel out the door, but now it’s time to see if DICE and crew were able to lift Faith up to new heights, or if the series should have been left alone after all this time. Read our Mirror’s Edge Catalyst review to find out.
Better Than Before
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst improves upon the original in every conceivable way. The city looks better (if a bit unpopulated). Combat has mercifully been improved. The open-world concept actually works quite well. Loading times are very short. Runner’s vision is helpful, and also optional for those masochists out there. We’ll dive into each of these sections below, but if you’re looking for the skinny: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is the sequel the fans have been yearning for.
If you were never comfortable with Mirror’s Edge’s control scheme, then Catalyst will only compound on your issues. Besides jumping with L1 and crouching/sliding with L2, thanks to several new attachments to Faith’s right wrist, you also need to pay attention when to hold L1 to use a grappling hook-like device, or X to pull certain items towards you. The new gadgets open up new ways of traveling, though they feel a little underutilized. Otherwise, controls remain the same as in the original.
Combat sucked in the first Mirror’s Edge. Here, it’s not nearly as bad, but can still be aggravating from time to time. Thankfully, you cannot pick up a gun in Catalyst, which, as anyone who played the original can tell you, is a good thing. You will, however, likely kill a few enemies as you send them plunging to their deaths. Faith is an adept fighter, and if you keep your speed up, your focus shield fills up, and acts like a literal shield from enemy damage for a few hits. Rotating around enemies and knocking them into each other becomes one of your better tactics, as well as using the environment to your advantage to perform flying kicks. A new progression system starts you out missing a few key abilities from the first game, but you level up quite quickly and should have all of Faith’s moves unlocked in no time. Without spoiling anything, I will say that the game’s final mission is a show of DICE and/or EA’s massive lack of confidence in the game’s combat mechanics.
Good Production Values
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst maintains the original’s look and feel of the city of Glass, which was unnamed in the first game. Expect to see a mostly pristine utopia, with a seedy underside that can only be glimpsed at from the surface. The Frostbite 3 engine performs very well, though some texture pop-in can be seen at high speeds, though only on distant screens that are playing video – anything that’s important does not appear to have this problem. As you traverse this sprawling city, you’ll be given a short bit of information about the area in which you currently find yourself, as well as stats on what you’ve collected thus far. One issue that may bother some is that the city is very sparsely populated. Perhaps most of the city’s inhabitants are indoors, but you rarely see anyone inside any buildings, even including luxury apartments and lobbies. It’s a little jarring, however this does fit in with the game’s narrative of a subdued populace, complacent with their lot in life as conglomerate slaves.
The soundtrack is once again composed by Solar Fields, who also created the memorable soundtrack to the original game. The audio work is hard to describe, but fits right in with the dystopian outlook that the game’s protagonist and other characters have on the supposed utopia of Glass. There’s also howling wind whenever you’re perched up high on a skyscraper, and the familiar squeak of sneaker meeting glass or polished platform as you run around.
DICE probably found themselves at a tough spot when it came time to pen Catalyst’s story. Since the story here focuses on Faith’s past, it’s not as if the conglomerate known as KrugerSec could be overthrown in this game. But they came up with a new cast of characters, with more than a few nods to the game’s roots. There’s Noah, Faith’s father figure and leader of a group of rebels. Icarus is a douche, at least when you first meet him. Naturally, the story progresses and he and Faith bond a little bit. The story this time around is a bit more fleshed out, though it has an abrupt ending, which, given the constraints placed upon the team due to the story of the original Mirror’s Edge, is the best we could hope for.
Open World Works
One major change in Catalyst is the game’s change to an open-world. Some may think that this is an odd fit when the original game was so linear, but it works quite well. The city has been expanded, and named, with different areas to explore, each featuring a certain architecture style and caste of citizens. From down in the underbelly of the city’s sewers, up to the clouds in the highest of skyscrapers, the city of Glass has a lot to take in, and you are free to roam about it from the game’s outset. If you so desire, you can ignore the story missions and opt to do side jobs, or compete online with Catalyst’s asynchronous user generated content. While the main campaign can be completed in around 8 hours or so, the game’s longevity lies in the side missions and user generated content. I’d expect a play time of closer to 30 hours to achieve the coveted Platinum trophy. Obtaining a three-star rating on all of the game’s time trials will take a lot of patience, skill, and muscle memory.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst continues in the series tradition of being a divisive game. If you loved the original Mirror’s Edge, you will likely love Catalyst as well. On the other hand, the same issues that some people had with the first game are still present in Catalyst. This doesn’t feel like it’s going to win over any non-fans of the franchise. Yet, I wouldn’t say that is a bad thing. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst knows exactly what it is, and more importantly what it is not. It is a stylish platforming game that just so happens to be in the first-person perspective; it is not a shooter, and it is not for everyone. The change to an open-world map was a huge gamble, but it paid off. This is a more-realized version of the original Mirror’s Edge, and is a fun game in its own right.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.