Mirror's Edge Catalyst - Xbox One Review

Mirror’s Edge is a title that has a lot of differing views on it. The original was usually either loved or hated, and it all depended on the individual. Besides just general taste, a lot of people couldn’t get their heads around first-person parkour, and it ended up as a bit of a niche title, that wasn’t heavily talked about for long after release. Personally, I loved the game, playing through it and completing it, getting pretty good at moving around, and enjoying pretty much the entire experience. Catalyst offers...a lot less than the prior game, whilst giving the impression that it is going to offer more.

The first of Catalyst’s issues is the fact that it went open world. Now, I’m a fan of open world games, and in ideation this sounds like a good idea, but it doesn’t work in practice for this game. You spend a large chunk of the game going through areas you’ve been before, over and over again. In the first 3 hours, I probably hadn’t covered almost any unique areas that I hadn’t seen in the first hour of play, and that’s an immediate sore spot. The first game was very linear, and that was a good thing, because you’d meet new obstacles, and find new environments that you could go through, and nothing felt stale. With too much offering in the new installment, it takes too long to get to new environments, and I quickly grew tired of it. The new City of Glass looks great, but among all the extra clutter and ‘side routes’, there isn’t much you can do to go somewhere new, that ends up useful. A lot of the side paths are just inefficient to use, even if they look neat or use interesting movement to get through, causing them to be unused for a majority of the time.

They also made an absolutely terrible decision to add progression to the game, locking stuff behind walls that removes skill and the potential to be at your best right from the beginning. Locking stuff such as simple UI use, or ‘advanced’ parkour maneuvers behind leveling up just feels bad for the player, and they locked stuff away that was in the past game, and in turn it ends up feeling awkward trying to move around and do some of the stuff you’re accustomed to. One less noticeable side effect of this system is that they have to make earlier areas more accessible, and less exciting to explore, removing stuff such as the 180* turn, on walls or not, is one of the biggest offenders, and makes the game slower because it’s built on not having that. It significantly lowers how good you can possibly be when you don’t have all your tools at your disposal at any given time, and creates an adjustment period that feels odd, trying to make use of new tools when you haven’t for a while. On top of this, progression-locked tools are just straight up shown to you, but you don’t have a chance to use them until you get to that point, which spoils one of the reasons that we like getting new tools in games - that being the surprise of adding to your arsenal, and being able to do more out of the blue.

Now, one of the good things that I can say about this game is that it’s pretty. The world looks really nice, with both design and textures/shadows/etc. Reflections are something that they got done really well, and a lot of things reflect Faith to a different agree, and are seemingly accurate, and realistic looking. And, at least on the Xbox One, there are a lot of issues with loading textures properly, and it’s quite common to go a few minutes into a new area with blurred colors as textures, or watch an entire cutscene the same way. Animations are a bit odd on faith, most notably combat. Nothing feels powerful, and it’s all tiny. If you’re kicking, your leg suddenly pops out and you - for all intents and purposes - just lightly tap someone, and they go flying.

There’s no good feeling when it comes to combat, because your body is small, so the limbs are thin, and they fly out fast. To boot, there isn’t much of a visual impact - one that’s noticeable at least - that gives any extra ‘oomph’ to your attacks. And considering that they did away with guns and focused on hand-to-hand combat with Faith, you see this often. Speaking of, the combat just does not feel fluid, and doesn’t work as well as it should. To do directional attacks, such as kicking an enemy to the right, it feels as if you need to hold the stick for longer than should be expected, and I found myself constantly failing to use one of these attacks when I just flicked the stick to make my moves faster. On top of that, the wonky animations make it hard to tell if you’re really hitting, or sometimes, where you’re hitting. I feel like they should have spent more time on combat, both animations and design in general, and at this point, I would have preferred they just kept the guns and went for more stale combat.

Overall, I simply didn't like this game. I went into it with high expectations, after having loved playing through the first game past its prime, and ended up being utterly disappointed. Between the numberous gameplay problems, between combat feeling weak and clunky, movement being gutted in favour of a progression system, and the open-world making the game repetitive, this was not something I found almost any fun playing. It’s not the worst, but there are so many things done wrong, and so little done right, it just wasn’t an experience I could personally enjoy, and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re a die-hard fan of the series.

Game Information

Xbox One
Electronic Arts
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
PlayStation 4

Article by Chris H.