Review: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst (PS4)
After many years of torture the team of DICE finally came to their senses and developed the game fans have been begging for. Gone is the linear structure of the 2008 cult classic and in its place is an open-world for you to explore. The problem is that fans don’t always know best and sometimes they’re the catalyst to a game spiralling out of control.
Red is the new black
Events kick off exactly where the Beta started, if you played it, where Faith is in prison. It happens to be the day she’s being released and is told that they will be keeping an eye on her. She barely puts a foot outside of prison when she connects up with a new character, Icarus, who guides her back to the person who raised her, Noah. Upon your arrival you, as the player, gets some insight into Faith’s past and her reasons for being hell-bent on bringing an end to K-Sec, a powerful city law enforcement. Now it’s time to run!
Players familiar with the original game will feel right at home. Your shoulder buttons and triggers will handle most of Faith’s parkour actions. L1 let’s you jump and climb obstacles. It also allows you to wall-run and something else I’ll touch on in a little while. L2 on the other hand lets you slide or crouch. Combine the two and the city of Glass becomes your playground. The face buttons are used for interacting by accepting missions and combat. The problem is that the combat is uninteresting and quite frankly broken.
In Mirror’s Edge Catalyst you will no longer be able to disarm enemies. In fact, you can’t shoot any guns whatsoever. If you’re at your happiest with a gun in hand this is not the game for you. You will face off against various enemy types including the K-Sec Guardian, Protector, Enforcer, Shock Protector and, the most hardcore of the lot, Sentinel. By pressing the square button you can punch and kick your foes using light attacks, though you’ll have to get a good grasp using the triangle button to perform heavy blows. By pressing left or right while performing a heavy attacks you can kick the enemy into each other or off platforms for them to fall to their death. Oh, they also die when you kick them into each other. Yes,the combat is just so clunky and makes little to no sense. Pressing R2 to evade incoming attacks becomes essential when facing off against sentinels as they’re rather tough. The best option is more often than not to avoid combat altogether when possible and therefore you need to focus on your upgrades.
Focus on your upgrades
Whenever you’re running or performing parkour moves you’re building your focus bar. A focus bar is basically a shield that protects you from incoming gun fire. Once the bar depletes your health will drop. This is why it’s important to look out for collectibles and other missions scattered around Glass. Collecting Gridleaks, surveillance recordings, documents, secrets bags and electronic parts will not only tell you more about the citizens in Glass, but also provide you with much needed XP to upgrade your movement, combat or gear attributes.
When upgrading your movement you’ll add moves that veterans might find is missing at the start, such as using the R1 button to perform an instant 180 degree turn or pressing L2 for a soft landing. The combat upgrades will increase your strength and overall health, but it’s important to focus on your gear upgrades. Throughout the campaign you’ll upgrade your Beat Link – a device attached to her arm that allows her to communicate and find landmarks in the open-world. Later on you’ll be able to use L1 to swing between buildings or out-of-reach areas by shooting out a rope (called the Magrope). Your Beat Link can also be used as a disruptor, by pressing the circle button, that’ll stun enemies if you feel the situation has got out of control. There’s lots to upgrade, but there’s a major flaw in the system.
Faith no more
All these upgrades and amazing moves is pointless when your city is a dull prospect. Those who played the original will know that the linear approach provided some unforgettable moments – levels that felt like puzzles to complete and understand. You had to master the controls of Mirror’s Edge in 2008 to get to the end of the game. It’s missing in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. Everything feels too basic by comparison. The only areas that posed a challenge, and ended up being some of the best level designs in the game, were the linear structured Grid Nodes. You complete a Gird Node to activate fast travel to a safe house around the city. There’s just no use in having the most amazing abilities in an environment that does not complement your arsenal of moves. But that’s not all.
Your map is generally a complete mess. Whenever you take part in a Diversion, Delivery, Security Hub mission or Dash your time goes up on a leaderboard, which is good, but that icon on the map does not disappear, just in case you want to improve your time. You end up with a mess displayed on your map, and it can’t be turned off individually. The campaign, should you tackle none of the side missions, will last you about five hours at most. It’s quite a predictable plot line, but there’s nothing quite as dull as Faith’s voice. For some reason she sounds out of place when compared to the other voice actor’s who all sound like they’re there for a purpose… and let’s not even talk about the fact that there’s a main character in the game with the name ‘Plastic’. If you played the Beta there’s very little reason for you to return unfortunately.
Everything still has that clean feel to it. Like it’s almost too perfect when you see the red markings of your echo guiding you to your next objective. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a game that could have been so much more. If they had the world to match the parkour (or platforming) abilities this would have been something special. It’s proof that some worlds should remain linear. Instead you’ll have to do with something that’s okay, but nowhere near great. Fans will find lots to love, but newcomers will have little faith in this boring world of Glass.