I was a big fan of running free at high speed across skyscrapers in the original Mirror’s Edge. However, I did not feel the same euphoria while playing through Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. While the environment felt more open than before; a subpar story, constant visual hiccups and stifling gameplay kept me from enjoying it as much as the original. I wanted to love Faith’s new story and the world she lived in here, but I just couldn’t do so with all of the problems I found throughout my experience. I hate to say it, but Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a big disappointment.
The gameplay of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is similar to the first Mirror’s Edge, only now you have a more open area to run through and explore. You can complete important missions that are scattered across the city, as well as optional side missions, which give you experience and skill points to level up Faith’s abilities.
Running and jumping from building to building in this open world is smoother than before, especially with the new grapple hook gadget, but it can be tough reaching that high speed momentum. I had many instances where I couldn’t grab a ledge or unintentionally leaped off a building and had restart at a checkpoint. The loading screens when you fail aren’t long, but can quickly add up after repeated failures and restarts of a mission.
Combat is different this time with more special moves and abilities for Faith to use when fighting. You don’t use any guns, but instead different flips and dodges to take out enemies and maintain momentum as you run around. Fleeing from attackers is usually preferred, but the game sometimes forces you into closed off sections where you must eliminate all enemies.
For a game that puts emphasis on running free at high speeds, these sections bring the experience to a screeching halt. This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the clunky hand-to-hand combat against some enemy types. Attacks can put baddies into a long cheesy stagger animation that looks comical, but is counterbalanced by some enemies that feel a bit overpowered.
You don’t need to play the original game to dive into Catalyst’s story, as this is a reboot of the series that focuses on Faith’s early days as a runner. That isn’t a bad thing, but it becomes an issue due to lack of information about key events related to the main plot.
Loading screens refer to a comic about Faith right before the game’s events, but none of it is revealed during the game. This is made worse when characters constantly make comments about it, but never giving details about what exactly happened. This made it harder for me to care about Faith and her struggles, especially when I felt like I was the only one that missed something incredibly important.
The problems with the story don’t stop there however, as characters besides Faith were either confusing or completely unlikeable. Most of Faith’s inner circle seemed very dull and uninspired, such as the annoying Icarus. Every time Icarus would show up, I would shrug as he whined or made a snarky comment about Faith’s inability to do something. I didn’t even care when some characters suddenly disappeared for part of the story, mainly because I didn’t understand their importance to Faith or the struggle at large.
Time Trials and other side quests are nice distractions from the main campaign. You can create time trials and running tasks for other players online as you move about the city, as well as take on challenges created by other players. This is easy to get into while roaming around the city and not completing any story or optional side missions. Racing for a spot on the leaderboards and tagging billboards is a fun spin-off from the main story, but only for a short time.
As much as I wanted to love Mirror’s Edge Catalyst as a fan of its predecessor, I couldn’t help but feel that a huge ball was dropped here. The open world design of the city is good, but traversing the cityscape just isn’t that exhilarating. Combat feels stiff and can have more than a few technical hiccups as you progress through different missions. The story is weak with a confusing plot and unlikeable characters that make everything I did feel very forgettable. By the end of my experience, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst was simply disappointing.
This review was based on a digital review code of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst for the Xbox One provided by Electronic Arts.