The original Mirror’s Edge was a breathtaking title that, up to that point, wasn’t comparable to anything I’ve played before. The minimalistic visual aesthetics and dynamic style of parkour gameplay was refreshingly different and something you wouldn’t expect out from a studio like DICE, whom are best known for their shooter titles like Battlefield. Even though unique in its kind, Mirror’s Edge could have gone one further and we haven’t seen anything in terms of a follow up until now.
EA DICE has returned to the series to give it a follow-up we’ve all been waiting for but have decided to pursue a full reboot rather than a sequel. The decision to create a re-telling of Faith Connors – the protagonist from the original Mirror’s Edge – is probably a smart move considering the original was criticised for its subpar narrative.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is set in the urban jungle of Glass City, which share similarities to the original title – a clean minimalistic palette which is gorgeous running on EA’s Frostbite engine. Unlike the original, the city is also an open-world playground which allows players to step into the shoes (or sneakers) of Faith as she uses her skills to traverse around the rooftops. The open world aspect opens up opportunities for exploration as there’s a few side quests and collectables to find, too.
There’s also an addition of Social Play, which allows players to create or play custom races created by other players online. It feels somewhat similar to the shared universe concept used in last year’s Need for Speed, however in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst you can create your own trial runs and see how fast others can complete it – adding another degree of depth to the open-world aspect of the game.
“you can create your own trial runs and see how fast others can complete it – adding another degree of depth to the open-world aspect of the game.”
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and an open-world may seem like a match made in heaven, however, disappointingly, it’s probably one of my biggest criticisms of the game. While there are a lot of nooks and crannies to explore in the city, it just feels underwhelming due to the lack of things to actually do. Each section is filled with a handful of typical scenarios – take out the guards at this point, help this guy/girl out, find several collectibles, and so on – but ultimately it feels really repetitive due to how often they pop up. The world doesn’t feel as alive as it should be in an open-world game and combined with Mirror’s Edge Catalyst’s terrible AI, it gets pretty dull fast.
Combat feels great and fluid which fits into Mirror’s Edge Catalyst’s momentum but it’s let down by the shockingly bad AI that plagues the conflict scenarios. Yes, there’s no questioning that the AI in the original was bad, but in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst it feels too robotic and often hilariously stupid as enemies repetitively fall onto each other or stagger around after colliding into an object. The bad AI not only breaks immersion, it hurts the combat, which, almost always, is dynamic and really enjoyable. The fact that you can wall-run and finish off an enemy with a side kick is rather satisfying but with the AI not responding quick enough, in turn making the fights annoyingly frantic, the combat becomes a chore and you’ll eventually find yourself trying to avoid confrontation altogether.
The best parts of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst are actually what made the original great. Most notably, tight navigation levels during Catalyst’s story missions. These parts are often difficult as you have to find ways in an enclosed level to push on to the next part. They’re almost puzzle-esque and were something I found the best and most interesting to do.
While Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a beautiful game with great ideas and a fluid movement and combat system that connects A to B seamlessly, it’s the expanded idea of an open world and bad AI that brings the game down. While the story has been quite interesting so far – learning about the game’s organisations and Faith’s past – I’m still progressing through the campaign and holding off on giving the game an overall opinion and finalised score.
This is a review-in-progress, with a score awarded after playing through the game’s early access portion and continuing on with a review copy. An overall review and final score will be published later this week.
Developer: EA DICE
Publisher: EA Games
Platforms: Xbox One (Reviewed), PS4 and PC
An EA access code and review copy was provided by the publisher.