I recall 2008’s Mirror’s Edge as having colorful scenery, fun running mechanics, unique environments, while in spite of all of that beauty – it still being extremely frustrating to play. The game featured some incredible use of primary colors and lighting throughout it’s mainly linear, 8-10 hour length story driven campaign. Running through the rooftops (mostly) of a brightly lit cityscape, players got to see the everyday life of Faith: a highly skilled ‘Runner’ who’s job is to to deliver information and packages while avoiding Utopian government interference. Developer DICE felt it’s time for a reboot, under the title of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, which I had the honor of being able to test out during a closed beta the weekend of April 22-24.
Going into this beta I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting it to be great but if the finished product is anywhere near as good as what I’ve just experienced, Catalyst will definitely be one to remember.
Mirror’s Edge has been transformed from a linear first-person story centered game to an open world platforming action-adventure game. Faith is back again looking better than ever on DICE’s new Frostbite 3 Engine, last seen in Star Wars: Battlefront, but this time with a whole new leveling system. Where in the original Mirror’s Edge you were guided through beautiful office buildings, rooftops, sewers, open streets and everything in-between; this time around players are given the option to where they’d like to venture. Though most of the routes taken to get from one objective to another is fairly consistent (meaning there’s either the quick way, or the long route); the act of running, jumping, vaulting, and keeping your momentum up is part of the fun.
The closed beta did a fairly good job at introducing players to the open-world of Catalyst as well as the new characters, but mainly focuses on the new/changed mechanics. A major flaw in the last game was that, for a character fully focused on running and hand-to-hand combat, the times in which Faith is forced to use weapons felt unnatural. This time DICE did away with that entirely, now players can engage multiple enemies with various fighting techniques which may or may not be locked behind an upgrade menu. In the beta most things like running, vaulting and wall-running were unlocked initially, but who’s to say what the final product will hold? Visuals were on point, as expected, with the addition of a few time based running trials by the name of Dashes. Users can also create their own time trial course whenever and wherever they please, for others to try out and share. Leaderboards are everywhere so whether you’re tackling a side mission or just taking in the sights of Glass City, players could feel free to challenge and shame other players, or friends, with ease.
The overall experience had a very Dying Light feel to it, though it could just be the fact they both share a major focus on parkour, a similar leveling system, similar open world exploration, a grappling hook-like device, but with more of a futuristic and realistic type feel. Get a look at Faith and her new story in the new trailer below.
Catch Faith making her triumphant return to PS4, Xbox One and PC on June 7th 2016.