Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
After its release in 2008, Mirror’s Edge was one of those games I played for an extended period of time. It was a fresh take on the first person genre, while instilling some elements from different genres. There was also another game I used to play on the original Xbox that was ahead of its time that also used the first person style in a unique way. The game was called Breakdown.
Breakdown was one of the first to introduce first person hand to hand combat and include parkour platforming to a certain degree. I'm comparing each because my appreciation for Breakdown was identical to Mirror's Edge. Also, I felt that no matter how much I enjoyed the game, I never thought that Mirror's Edge's sales would merit a sequel.
Well, it looks like the fans voices were heard and Catalyst is here. The question is, is this a sequel? As much as I was excited for the release, what we were given in place of a sequel was a reboot in place of a sequel. I don’t think this was a necessary decision, simply because the game didn’t really get to establish itself with only the console/PC and mobile games. I remember Mirror’s Edge as a stylized first person platformer that took jumping to the next level.
The original game was level based and I was content with that. The story left more to be desired, yet I knew I wasn’t playing it for that reason. It was the urge to run, jump, and defend yourself without the use of firearms. These alone were the elements that kept me playing years after its release. So does Mirror’s Edge Catalyst leave the same impression? When you look at what makes the original so enjoyable, the answer is yes.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst retains the core values that made Mirror’s Edge such a unique and fun game to play. However, as with most sequels, reboots, or successors to a series, comes change. Developers usually promise that change is for the better and in some cases (i.e. Tomb Raider 2013) they’re on point. In the case of MEC, it depends on who you’re asking.
In my case, there was a lot going on this time around and most of the content I can personally do without. What was previously a simple level based design, has now joined the ranks of the open world sandbox with Catalyst. This also brings what you would expect to find in these types of worlds; hidden items, tons of side missions, races, and even puzzles in the form of hacking billboards.
Some of the side missions have some story intertwined, which would give more of an incentive for someone simply looking to complete the main story only. Sadly, the story for me is the weak link here. From the moment Faith is released from her prison sentence, I knew I wasn’t going to care for the narrative. The characters feel generic and lack personality.
As I progressed through the campaign, nothing compelled me to continue playing story wise. What did keep me interested was the gameplay. This is something EA DICE has gotten just right. In the city of Glass, the rooftops are your playground and Faith is the perfect tour guide. This is where Mirror’s Edge shined and why I became a fan to begin with. The movement is smooth, as is the framerate on the Xbox One version.
Along with the traditional running and platforming, comes a fantastic new piece of equipment to assist Faith during her journey. This new addition is called the “MAG” rope. This pretty much makes you feel like Spider-Woman as you swing across buildings with ease. The MAG will also gain upgrades as you progress, even using your glove as a weapon of sorts.
Another returning component is the enemies you will face. The amount of enemies in both variety and volume have received quite the bump. Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed by four guards on a roof as you’re trying to get off the grid. Missions that require you to disable the Conglomerates radio towers, seems familiar, as it’s something many games in this realm tend to add. Locate, disable, defend, escape, rinse and repeat.
The best thing that Catalyst has going for it is the large amount of content. This alone makes the game worth picking up. I try to be fair with my thoughts because I may not enjoy certain things about the game, yet I feel a lot of the readers will appreciate and truly enjoy the extended content available out of the box.
The one thing that I didn’t spend too much time with was the multiplayer aspect called “Social Play” and “The Beat”. There isn’t a true multiplayer such as co-op or live races. Players can play user generated races and challenges you will find throughout the game's map. I think I will revisit this once I get more familiar with the map and complete the main campaign.
Overall, there is a lot to like with Mirror’s Edge and despite the bland story and characters, EA DICE gives you a large vibrant world with so much to do. New fans will find a new appreciation for the first person action adventure. Xbox One owners now have the ability to play the original via backward compatibility, which is now available digitally. It’s not the sequel I expected, but it’s the one we deserve.