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When the original Mirror’s Edge was first released, it managed to create a compelling world with an innovative first person parkour system. Now eight years later we have finally received a follow-up in the form of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.

One thing to note for franchise fans is that this is a complete reboot. The events of the original Mirror’s Edge will not take place in the world that Mirror’s Edge Catalyst has set up. The designers seemed to a picked out things they liked and discarded the rest. Some aspects of the story are the same, and some are not.  You still play as Faith in a heavily monitored and controlled city. Characters from the first game show up but are completely different in this one. It seems kind of a shame that fans have been asking for a new game for years, finally get one, but the events of the first game have little to no impact on this one. The fact that when the game was announced, DICE developers stated they didn’t see the game as a sequel or a prequel. Saying “We have landed on a vision that honors the first game.” confused things.  

The original Mirror’s Edge was criticized for creating a unique world and then having a story with no connection to it. Even though the story was weak, there was still a lot that fans liked. Things like the main character Faith. The Faith in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a lot younger than the original. She is rash and makes decisions that will have dire consequences that set the game in motion.
Mirror's Edge Catalyst Gameplay

The main draw of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is its parkour and movements system. The free running is hardly changed from the first game and is still incredibly fun. With the game’s move to an open world, it is very satisfying just to run about the city, learning new routes and improving your skills. One thing that baffles me is that you have to unlock moves that should be available straight away. When you start playing, you don’t have a roll or a quick turn. These things a vital for traversing the city and it only makes it awkward when trying to play. Instead of just giving you the necessary tools and letting you learn naturally, it halts your progress for no reason. Luckily you don’t get too deep into the game before you can get them, but it is still a bad choice. Once you do get the necessary upgrades the parkour feels fluid, and when you get in a rhythm all of the movement just works together.   

Combat has been changed quite a bit. It works great when you stay on the move and mobile, but as soon as you stop and try to fight someone, it just becomes an awkward mess. Sadly there are several occasions the game will force players to stand and fight. You now have a light and heavy attack. The light attack work best if you want to stay on the move, and you can use the heavy attack to kick enemies into obstacles and such. Some enemies will require you to rotate between light and heavy attacks in order to take them down. 

The world is littered with collectibles and side-quests. These normally consist on delivery missions where you have to get a package from point A to B. Fitting work for a “runner”, but they do get tiresome after a while. There is also times trails that can be set up by the community which are a lot of fun, and encourage experimenting with different paths and such. After a while, I stopped doing them until I had all the main movement unlocks, due to the fact even if I had the skill, sometimes I just wouldn’t be able to beat a time because I didn’t have a particular move. 

Mirror's Edge Catalyst White City

One of the new additions is a grappling hook, which allows you to get to certain parts of the city you wouldn’t normally be able to reach. At predetermined points, it lets you shoot out a wire where sometimes you’ll swing across a street or be pulled up to a ledge. The swinging is fun, I just wish I could use it more freely, and the places weren’t so rigidly set.

The city of Glass looks beautiful. The bold whites are complemented with colorful adverts that enforce the control corporations have over the city. When you look down to the streets below you get the sense this is really a bustling city.  As you progress through the game you see a variety of different environments such as building sites and sewers. All of these environments look good and add a little something to the game. Allowing you to see parts of the city the corporations wouldn’t want the average resident of Glass to see.  

Mirror's Edge Catalyst City

The story for Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is pretty lackluster. One of the reasons I don’t like that this a complete reboot is because they threw out all the stuff from the last game only to make another bad story. And in some cases, changes to characters are way worse. It’s filled with eye-rolling moments that can be seen from miles away, and the ending, not only is it boring, its offers zero closure. The storytelling itself isn’t that bad. Cutscenes are done well, and light, ethereal sci-fi sounding music sets the scene well. However, characters are all over the place, and the story moves at a pace that leaves no breathing room. We barely get time to get to know characters before they are just gone, and we never see them again. Overall a complete reboot of the story wasn’t worth it.  

It is a game of conflicting ideas. It emphasizes speed and movement yet doesn’t give you all the tools you need at first. Its combat works best when on the move but forces you to fight in small arenas against tough enemies. It reboots its story but doesn’t do a good job with it. Design and story choices that consistently seem to conflict with each other.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is best when you’re on the move, climbing a tall building and booking it across rooftops. When the world is like a puzzle that you are solving on the fly using all your skills. These moments are in the game, but there just aren’t that many of them.  There is still a lot of fun to be had with the game’s parkour system, but the experience is just let down by some bad design choices and a weak narrative.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst was reviewed on the PlayStation 4 with a copy purchased by the reviewer. It is also available on PC via Origin and Xbox One.

6.0
 

Good

Summary

Mirror's Edge Catalyst is best when you're on the move, climbing up a tall building and booking it across rooftops. When the world is like a puzzle that you are solving on the fly using all your skills. These moments are in the game, there just aren't that many of them.


Sam Mcarthur-Mclean

Staff Writer

Writer for TechRaptor since 2014. An avid follower of the gaming industry that loves to write about it. Currently a student. From Glasgow, Scotland.



  • Reptile

    So… eight years to make the same thing with the same story but open world and with locking skills to create the illusion of progress? Oh Yeah and a grapling hook, the most recent “Other games have so we need it somehow on our game” thing.

  • John

    Ouch!

  • SevTheBear

    They should have dropped the story. Whoever wrote the story either didn’t care or had ZERO talent for story telling. Or could be the writer wasn’t given time to write something decent. A pure parkour game with focus on gameplay + MP race mode with up to 4 players would have been a much better idea it seems.

  • SevTheBear

    It would seem like EA didn’t care much for this game. You can always see when a dev or publisher has a favorite product the want to promote. It’s given all the attention and gets the best meals. Any other project gets the left overs.

    Mirrors Edge is a “we own the IP what should we do with it” game. It’s gameplay design screams laziness ala Ubisoft.
    – Throw in a bunch of pointless fetch quests because the main story is short… CHECK
    – A story so thin, old and predictable that is sounds and feels like a cheap B movie… CHECK

    They should have dropped the story totally and focused on gameplay (worked for Crazy Taxi) and some VS race. Cheaper and less of a cluster fuck.

  • Reptile

    Versus race would be really cool in Mirror’s Edge, I can only imagine you activating traps while running, like making the crane lower the platform so that the other player have to search for another way. Lovely to destroy friendships.

  • SevTheBear

    Great ideas.

  • Chris Anderson

    To be fair, the original also had a pretty terrible story that didn’t use the rather interesting world its set in, but focused on interpersonal drama more than on anything else. Catalyst isn’t really different in that respect, even if it tries to be different.

  • Chris Anderson

    The thing that bothers me the most about Catalyst is that the open world serves no purpose other than padding the time in between missions. I loved the original game (still do), but Catalyst misses what the original had: pacing and carefully constructed levels that allowed you to be creative even if the levels were exceedingly linear.

    The main missions are great, and in many cases a lot better than anything the first game had to offer but the open world is empty, pointless and filled to the brim with boring activities that are often hard to complete without the runner vision guiding you to where you need to go since the absence of any recognizable landmarks makes navigating way harder than it has to be.

    Catalyst is mechanically, graphically, sonically superior than the original in each and every way but lacks the carefully designed levels that made the original that great. Solar Fields’ soundtrack is gorgeous though, just like his score was for the first game.

  • Sebastian Mikulec

    “Sadly there are several occasions the game will force players to stand and fight.”

    Ugh. Well, I’ll be passing on this one. The few forced battles were the thing I hated the most out of the original and it seems they repeated their mistake. It’s a game about free running, its strength lies in fluid movement. The game should NEVER force you to stop and fight, that goes 100% against the core tenet of the game. Why is this so hard to understand?

  • SevTheBear

    Agree. The story of the first was bad to

  • Chris Anderson

    That fluid movement definitely plays into the combat with attacks that are meant to have you keep that momentum while you’re fighting and you can use the environment in fights as well. Fights are also over really quickly and you can skip 90% of the fights by running away.

    For all the faults that game has, I don’t think combat is one of them because they managed to translate fluidity to the combat pretty well.

  • discusser

    Death to “open-world”. I want levels.

  • Yosharian

    As a massive Mirror’s Edge fan, I’ll be passing on this one. They went in the wrong direction with the open world aspect, and the story failing to improve (and from what I can see, becoming worse) is a major fail for me.