The opinions in the following review are the result of a total of 20 hours play-time, on PS4, with the Day 1 patch installed.
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, it’s a game that a lot of people thought would never exist. Since the original game came out back in 2008 fans have been clamouring for more adventures featuring their favourite tattooed free-runner, Faith.
I was one of them
The series’ publisher, EA, made it clear over the years that a sequel was not financially viable. Even though fans were very loud about what they wanted, they were also in the minority. Not enough people bought the first game for it to make sense for EA to have sequel produced, or at least, that’s what they said, anyway.
Imagine my surprise, then, when Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst was announced. Not only were they making another one, but it was growing in scale, promising a large, open-world with lots to do and a deeper story.
I was excited.
My opinion now, after having finished the main story, all side missions and a large handful of time-trials/races is the same as it was after I finished the original game 8 years ago.
There is so much potential, and so much room to improve.
That’s not to say that this game is bad, far from it. For the most part I actually really enjoyed my time with it but there are without doubt more than a couple of mis-steps.
I’ll start with the positives. The act of free-running and the animations that tie it all together is as fun as it ever was. This is mostly due to the a sizeable series of rooftops and tunnels to explore at your leisure. There is even a slight hint of “Metroid-Vania” in there, encouraging you to go back to previously visited areas with new gear, such as a grappling hook in order to access new areas. The sound work is all top-notch from the squeak of Faith’s sneakers as you make a sudden turn while running on glass, to the eclectic, future tones of conglomerate ads. It all adds a good flavour to the game.
However, while there are great strides in improvement over the first game, they have in fact created a whole new set of issues that will need to be addressed at some point. I should note that these aren’t game-breaking issues, I never had any problems with the core gameplay during my time with it but they did sour my overall opinion.
Firstly, the story. Whilst bigger, broader and more personal, I feel that there are sections missing from within the game. The opening hours see characters make references to events past and present but without any actual details for the player to have context for. During one of the loading screens I encountered a “Tip” that encouraged me to find a copy of a comic IRL that has been released to promote the game if I wanted to know more about something. I’ll be honest, that pissed me off. If the information is important for context, put it in the game. I haven’t read the comic nor do I intend to. With that in mind, whilst the story does resolve itself, I was left the majority of the game wondering what was actually happening.
The thought that some stuff is missing is further cemented in my mind by Faith’s interaction with side characters. One character has a poor opinion of Faith, and her of him, but two missions later they’re buddies, supportive hands on the shoulder and positive words, what gives? Was a mission cut that gave context to this change of character?
A further example of this comes from another side-character that you are warned about before going to see her because she can be a little “different”. This character spends a lot of time alone and as such has poor inter-personal skills, she’s rude, but only in a matter-of-fact kind of way, it’s not personal. She also shuffles away from Faith when she sits next to her, again not personal, she just isn’t accustomed to conversation and close-proximity to other humans.
Two missions later and bam! She’s jumping to your defence over the comms and proclaiming herself as your friend to the third person on the call. Once again, where is the context for the sudden change of such deep-seated characteristics?
I may be looking way too far into that but still, it bothered me while playing the game and still does as I write this now.
Whilst I may have my issues with the narrative of the game and the way it dishes it out, I still enjoyed my time with it for the most part. As I mentioned before, the game itself plays great and its a blast to be wall-running, jumping, tucking and combat rolling again.
The new combat system works well too, you can read my preview if you’d like more details on that.
If you’re new to the series I’d recommend playing the first Mirror’s Edge before jumping in. It’s cheap nowadays and acts as a great litmus test to see if you should take the plunge.
For fans of the original game or even people that just simply played it for an hour and got bored, this game is not going to change your mind. If you liked it before, you’re going to appreciate having the large world to explore and the truck-load of time-trials and user-created runs. If Mirror’s Edge repelled you back in 2008, I don’t see anything new here that will draw you in.