When Mirror’s Edge came out in 2008 it seemed like a strange mix between a tech demo and an excellently designed first person free running experience. The game was not without its shortfalls but it was a truly unique experience that built up a cult following of lovers, among whom was myself. When news of a new Mirror’s Edge title was announced I could not have been more excited.
Digging into the Mirror’s Edge Catalyst BETA I was a little hesitant, curious and excited, a confusing three emotions to have. I really was not sure how they could advance the game without ruining what made it great. A very basic white aesthetic with the red interact-able objects made the game fun, but how can they improve it without ruining its simplicity has been running (pun partially intended) through my mind since the announcement.
Starting the beta it was clear that a lot of thought has been put into the game, with considerably more detail in the characters and the surrounds. My first concern was that Faith was clearly anti-establishment and thought that she is going to be the cliche anti-establishment, emotionless bratty type. Fortunately post tutorial her interactions make it clear she is actually very likeable. Her character received very little development in the initial game so it was nice to see I did not need to be worried about them over analysing her to the point where she is just not someone you would want to interact with.
The aesthetics, the gameplay and how the two fit together really is the most important element of this game, after all it is what made the last game so beloved by many. Fortunately they have made the scenery a lot more detailed, but used a lot of white to give the clean and sterile look to the City of Glass. This is important as it is what makes the crucial red objects stand out in the gameplay and sets the tone of the heavily manufactured, technologically advanced, police state city that Faith does not want be a pawn in.
The red objects can be turned off and are not always present, but they usually highlight a way to get to the end of a level. This not the most efficient way but it is up to the player to try something different to get better times in challenges. They have also got a red trail that pops up in some missions and when you set a marker in the open world, which really helps stop you from wandering around aimlessly, which brings forward my next point. The open world is amazing and just so freeing as you are able to explore the cities rooftops as opposed to specific levels. I said before the trails help you not get lost, but getting lost is also something you should let yourself do early on as it is so much fun just exploring and running for no other reason than it is fun as hell.
Combat was an area I was concerned about going into the game. Combat in the original Mirror’s Edge was terrible but it did not need to be great as the general idea was to avoid it. Fortunately combat is considerably better in Mirror’s Edge Catalyst but not amazing, which still fits with the idea to avoid it or to do a passing attack to keep running.
The issues I found were for the most part minor and infrequent. Occasionally features like arms bounced around a little in cutscenes, but that was minor and I only saw it because I was really looking. The load times on the other hand were especially bad, clocking in regularly around 25 seconds when Faith falls to her death. This drove me insane, especially if you made the same mistake a couple of times. It was an unnecessarily long pause that I hope is somehow shortened before the launch of the game.