I remember playing the first Mirror’s Edge many years ago on the Xbox 360. It wasn’t my favorite game or anything, but I did like the system of movement, and the general atmosphere of the city in which the game takes place. It had this cold, minimalist stylistic corporate vibe to it, that for some reason left a mark on me. So when I saw Mirror’s Edge Catalyst for sale on Steam for 2 euros the other day, I couldn’t help to dive in – I mean, what is 2 bucks even if it sucks?
The first thing that hit me going in, is that I don’t remember being thrown in prison from the first game, and apparently I needed to read some kind of comic to understand why I was. A huge negative stain on the game already, and I’m about 5 minutes into it. I hate when games do this, movies too for that matter. Expecting you to find/buy, and read media outside the game to understand the plot. Another thing that messed up my understanding of the story whilst it was ongoing, was that I had no idea that Catalyst is a reboot, and not a sequel, which I thought it was. I didn’t know this until after I finished the game. I discovered it when I was searching for answers to some questions I had about the plot. Apparently, it wasn’t a retcon or two, in the story, the whole thing had been retconned, huh!
So, about the storyline? Overall, it was pretty bad – uninteresting characters, boring bad guy, with some kind of weird technological doomsday weapon to enslave humanity forever that I think didn’t get explained that well. It sounded, to me, like it was some kind of Facebook app with the ability to kill you with some kind of switch. But who knows? One big problem I had with the story, is that Faith Connor (the protagonist) suffers from the Skywalker syndrome. Somehow, her family, and herself, are involved on a personal level in everything that happens in the city – a city of millions. Like in Star Wars, the world becomes small when everything revolves around just a few characters. It feels a little too fantastical to me, and above all, boring.
Otherwise, it’s by the books. I had a really hard time caring for anything. Besides the story, being as standard as it can be, some themes of the story were: betrayal, conspiracy, revenge, and tech-revolutionaries larping as communists. Which, to be fair sounds like a grand old time, but unfortunately not in this stale tale.
If we are going to talk a little about the graphics, setting, and city – well, while the graphical fidelity sure is higher than the original game, something here was lost when it comes to the city. At first, it feels like being back, it’s almost nostalgic, the white plain concrete buildings, and the sunny sky, giving that slight surrealistic sleek minimalist, but oppressive look. That quickly changes, at least for me, when I realized how gamified the world felt. It felt overly designed instead of representing a glossy futuristic city. And the biggest fault of them all, it had turned into an open world with corresponding fetch quests and a lot of backtracking. And I mean A LOT! In some areas, you will run through at least 10 times, if not more. I quickly abandoned any will of completing side-quests, deliveries and fetch missions out of repetitive boredom. I can only imagine how many times certain areas will be crossed, if you, in pure madness, decide to do them all, because the game is absolutely littered with these things. Furthermore, I would even say that the majority of the game is these kinds of tasks.
A couple of good parts of the game are the combat, and the traversal system – for the most part. I found the first-person melee system very enjoyable, and responsive. It gave me a glee of satisfaction, kicking guards of ledges, and over railings. Unfortunately, the game comes with 2 enemies that I think ruin some of it. The dude with the rifle goes down easy enough when you manage to get close, but oh man, is he annoying when ranged. He is usually located in an out-of-the-way place, too. He will fire upon you while you are fighting the dudes that are fun to fight, which sucks the joy out of those engagements. Another guy that I found highly tiresome, is the heavy guard with his damn shock gloves. His movement and such, don’t differ that much from the regular corporate officers, but when he hit you, it has this irritating buzz sound and shaky cam effect. And at times when fighting more than one, they keep hitting you in quick succession, annoying the hell out of me. It’s a real shame that these two made the cut because otherwise I found the martial arts combat exciting.
Since I played the original Mirror’s Edge on Xbox 360 with a gamepad, I can’t make a direct comparison to Catalyst, control-wise, because now I played it on PC with a mouse and keyboard. But, overall, I felt the controls were responsive, and pretty tight while traversing the rooftops. I did have some minor issues, like when the game wasn’t responding correctly to my double taps on the SPACE key. This meant, at times, while Faith was supposed to do a double jump, she just jumped over the obstacle instead of from it, falling to her pancake-like death.
The conclusion. Would I recommend the game? I don’t know to be honest. The story was abysmal, the setting had lost something since the last time, and the city felt way too gamified to feel real. But I did have some fun with it, running, and jumping around, kicking dudes over railings, and whatnot. It’s the entertainment, you would expect for 2 euros, so I can’t complain too much. I guess I would say, the game is worth 2 hard-earned whatever currency, you are currently using, just for the parkour freedom of zipping around in a pretty world among the rooftops. There are not too many of those, I would think.
Thanks for reading.