Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Review

The 2008 Mirror’s Edge was widely embraced by gamers pulled in by the first person view point of Faith, a medium build “hot” Asian woman voiced by Jules de Jongh.  The fast pace and stunning graphics helped users overlook the somewhat limited freedom of movement.  This year’s sequel, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, seems to be creating a polarizing reaction.  Players who were pulled in by the character and the storyline were disappointed that the new storyline is thin and that there was a missed opportunity to flesh out the characters bringing in some depth.  They found the game less than engaging.

Players who craved more of the action with its jumps, twists and turns were more than satisfied.  The battles are still a little clunky and more frequent, but increased freedom of movement more than compensated.  The main character had a bit of a transformation looking more edgy and streetwise with a smaller physique and shorter hair style.  The voice actress for Faith Connors was also replace with Faye Kingslee taking on the task.  Although her voice was a bit thin in the trailer, in the actual game, Kingslee was able to nail it

Running is supposed to release endorphins that make people happy, but Faith Connors and her friends don’t seem to take any joy in being off-the-grid mailmen in the city of Glass’ Big Brother-ruled future. Literally everyone in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is sullen at best or angry at worst, and without a shred of humor or levity it becomes a huge downer. Fun fact: you won’t see a single smile in this entire eight to 10-hour story campaign (more if you fill it out with sidequests) until Faith finally cracks a grin in the post-credits scene. Some people feel the character development is nonexistent, and worse, everyone – including Faith herself – is completely unlikable.

Her physical transformation indicates that this will be a more dramatic version.  I was quickly immersed in her world.  I appreciated not being distracted by side plots that would have perhaps developed more sides of Faith’s character.

Faith’s own backstory is revealed when you experience the moment where Faith begins her rise from a carefree runner to the hero the city needs. Playing in first person allows players to feel her fluid movement, combat and power. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a classic example of form over substance. Pleasant, acrobatic sprint over futuristic roofs is often slowed down and distracted by focus on combat or hidden items. Basic gameplay and running in the City of Glass is still more than worthwhile though – there’s no better courier than Faith.  EA needs to take the plunge and allow the game to veer from traditional game play that requires battles to keep our attention.

Movement in Catalyst still feels as fresh and empowering as it did in 2008, with our viewpoint firmly fixed through Faith’s eyes for every jump, slide, wall run, and skill roll (save for the occasional finishing move that pulls the camera out to third-person). That perspective makes the simple act of running a thrill, just like in the original. The crunch of gravel or the squeak of a glass floor under Faith’s feet, the heavy breaths she draws as she runs faster and longer – it’s quickens my pulse to  practically to string moves together successfully as I move from one area of Glass to another across its rooftops. The grappling hook I picked up partway through the campaign helped sell the idea that Faith could traverse a city like you can tie your shoes. Perhaps no other game utilizes the LB/L1 button more than Catalyst – it’s your jump button that leads into momentum jumps, mid-air attacks, and zip lines – but it felt perfectly natural as I ran and jumped around Glass.

Unlike the original Mirror’s Edge, Catalyst’s version of the gleaming white city of Glass is an open world, and it offers a couple of advantages. First, it lets you challenge yourself to put together epic-length, perfect runs that span the entire city.

Fans of the original Mirror’s Edge favorite element was the built-in tool that let you easily create your own time trials.  In Mirror’s Edge Catalyst you can really enjoy putting it to the test in this freeform city. Your time trials automatically show up as optional events in your friends’ games.  Through side quests you can guild up your XP so you can unlock more traversal moves, combat abilities, or Faith’s gear.  Other missions like Secret Messenger Bag retrievals are small parkour challenges that are intriguing by themselves. Checkpoints are liberal and reload times are relatively quick, so you can take risks and experiment without losing much ground.