July 11th, 2016 at 4:00 pm
|Tagged With: Console Hub, DICE, ea, Mirror's Edge, pc, playstation, playstation 4, PS4, Recommended, review, xbox, xbox live, xbox one|
Faith Connors finally returns in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst which appears on the scene a whopping eight years after its predecessor. While Catalyst does a lot to improve upon the widely criticised faults of the original game it is spoiled by the fact that the game introduces a range of new problems of its own. Ultimately, these new faults serve quite a bit of damage to the experience offered by the game.
As the game begins, we are reintroduced to Faith who has just been released from a juvenile detention facility. She is the same as you remember her: a speedy Runner, carrying out sensitive courier contracts for shady buyers. The platforming elements are truly the highlight of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. Every so often, you will reach a point in one of the game’s story quests which requires you to complete a beautiful, complex sequence of technically-stunning wall jumps, wall runs, climbs and leaps to reach another destination; these are the times when Catalyst feels like an incredible game. The mix of exciting platforming with a hint of an aspect of puzzling feels fresh and is quite unique to the Mirror’s Edge series. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for much of the game.
One of the major areas where Mirror’s Edge fails to captivate its players is in the world design. The open world of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst should be bold and unique to compliment Faith’s riveting platforming but is instead filled with dull, forgettable skyscrapers. Obviously, you would expect Catalyst’s world to be a model of conformity and uniformity given its backstory, however, the developers have not done anything to give the world any hidden charm or redemptive features and the world is simply a bland vessel for Faith’s platforming and is devoid of any character. It feels like the world wasn’t given much thought or time in the development process and this is unfortunate as it significantly impacts the power of the game to compel its players.
Sound is another aspect in which the game impresses. The beautiful howl of wind as you run briskly through the city, tap of a shoe hitting concrete as you leap across a rooftop and pant of Faith as she climbs up a wall all do wonders to help immerse you in the game in spite of the uninspiring world design.
World design is not the only area where Catalyst has issues: the combat system is also unimpressive and perhaps its biggest flaw. There are no firearms of any kind in Catalyst and all combat is executed with melee attacks. The developers have attempted to implement the combat in the same format as the exciting movement system; a free-flowing, fast system knitted tight with the movement system with no restrictions on your combination of attack and free-running. In reality, it works horrifically and looks awful at times. While the implementation from Faith’s point of view is not too bad, it is really in the AI combat system that we see issues. Enemy AI usually tend to stand around doing nothing for long periods of time and fall into and over eachother. Combat is not optional in Catalyst and so enemies must be taken down to progress at times. This means that combat cannot be free-flowing with your run as you need to stop your run to deal with the idiotic enemies who run in the wrong directions and tend to do more damage to eachother than to you. Again, it is another area where Catalyst could have been excellent but falls flat on its face due to bad implementation.
In terms of content, while the main missions are varied enough not to become boring, the same cannot really be said of the side missions or collectibles. Many of the side missions consist of a race across an area of the map. Given the dreary world, this type of side mission begins to grate quite quickly. Additionally, collectibles consist of electronic parts, documents, gridleaks and more, however, they do little more than given you XP and I did not feel motivated to spend time collecting them.
Speaking of XP, DICE created a system in which Faith’s abilities are locked behind the experience system and so you will need to boost your XP to a certain level before using a particular ability of Faith’s. Despite this, many of Faith’s most useful abilities are available to you right from the start and so it feels that the XP system was just added to make the game seem more of a complete package. In truth, it does the opposite and portrays the sense that the ability system was another afterthought for the game.
One area where the game redeems itself to some extent is the online mode; players can create their own time-trial missions across the game’s map and allow people to attempt to complete them. It is in this area where the excellent movement system gets its chance to truly shine in a game where it is bogged down by the major flaws in combat and world design.
Overall, I cannot recommend Catalyst unless you were a big fan of the original game. Mirror’s Edge was a brilliant new idea with some issues and disappointingly, Catalyst perfects those flawed aspects from the original title but opens up a host of its own restrictions. This is not the Mirror’s Edge game that fans of the original were looking for, but, if you were a fan, it may be worth overlooking the game’s flaws to experience the sleek movement system.