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When games that attempt to try something original, you want to be very supportive about it. However, you also have the conflict of the potential of this “unique” game not being good. So, do you support the game due to its unique gameplay, story, and setting, even if it is flawed? Well, in some ways, yes, but for me, I won’t give a unique game a free pass if there are legit flaws with the game. This is where Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst comes into play. The original game was a surprise to everyone, with its focus on fast-moving platforming, and less of a focus on combat and gunplay. Catalyst, a reboot of the series, attempts to refine the experience by being more about melee combat and improved platforming. Does it succeed? Well, let’s find out.
The game is a reboot/prequel to tell the origin story of Faith Conners, voiced by Faye Kingslee. She recently got released from prison, and rejoins a group of rebels that try to take down the big corporations that are trying to be in full control of the entire city and its people. Yeah, you can say I didn’t put too much focus onto the overall story, but when you see one “a free spirit taking down a giant conglomerate” story, you have seen them all.
If you played the previous game, then you should be fairly familiar with this new game in the franchise. It’s a first-person fast-paced platformer that relies heavily on platforming design inspired by those parkour specialists, where you use the surrounding buildings around you to traverse the city. The gameplay has been definitely improved upon, with the platforming feeling more fluid and easier to control. The levels don’t feel so clunky, and it felt great being on the move and knowing how to wall-run, wall-jump, and running across buildings to evade the bad guys. They took out gunplay in this game, and instead put more emphasis on the melee combat, the first game’s biggest weakness. It definitely feels more varied with the ability to punch, kick, push or kick enemies into a wall or into other enemies, and while there is one section where you can’t avoid enemies, you can pretty much go through some major areas without punching a guy. The game is now open-ended, with a huge world to explore, and multiple side-objectives to take part in, like racing challenges, deliveries, and hacking large signs. There is even this “multi-player” element, where you can compete with others and beat their time challenges. The game will take about eight or so hours to complete the main story, and a few more if you decide to take on the side challenges or keep playing the “multi-player” aspect of the game.
Graphically, this game is beautiful. It might be a sterile, mostly egg-white-looking world, but what were you expecting with a world of oppression and big business? The facial details and textures of everything are really pretty to look at. It actually looks as good as that ambitious, if forgettable Quantum Break. The music is once again atmospheric and techno, which fits into this bleak futuristic world into which you are placed. If you are curious about the composer, it’s the same individual that did the soundtrack for the first game, Solar Fields. The voice work is solid, but I would say it’s done well enough to show that the actors were trying to make this script work.
So, what is wrong with Catalyst? Well, unfortunately, a lot. First off, the story is forgettable. It’s yet another generic “screw the big companies that we must take down so we can be free” stories, and I’m sorry, but it has been played out so much in recent years, that it’s not very creative. I didn’t really care to remember anyone’s names, because the characters were boring. I know DICE probably doesn’t have the best scriptwriters, but they could have put more effort into the story. I also found the lack of gunplay not a bad idea, up until you reach an area that you can’t escape and have to fight a horde of enemies. This part is tedious, because they will throw in a few too many long-range enemies that you can’t deal with, due to the fact that they won’t let you shoot anyone. The melee combat is good and all, but the level itself is not equipped enough to give you a fair shake. It’s the one part of the game that goes against its own rules, set for no reason. It’s infuriating, and it doesn’t auto-save after each round. I wouldn’t mind all this, since I have played a lot of games with a bunch of mediocre sequences that no one in the testing group thought to speak up about, but since the story isn’t great, why should I complete the game? The game is also rather repetitive, with not a lot of variety in terms of platforming and challenges. I’m sure it would be challenging to make a huge variety of memorable challenges for a game all about platforming, but still. The world also feels fairly empty. It sort of makes sense, but I wish they had put more life into this stale, clean city. I also ran into some glitches, like soldiers shooting at walls, and yet the bullets would still hit me.
I really want to be supportive of Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. It’s a solid game with some truly fun and satisfying platforming, but it’s weighed down by a boring story and sometimes tedious combat. I think it’s fair to say that if you haven’t played this game yet, give it a rent, and if you like it, get it for cheap. It’s good to always try something new, but sometimes, being different and unique isn’t enough.
This game gets a 6 out of 10