I feel sorry for any upcoming open world games that started development before the Witcher 3
came out. Before then, the common Ubisoft style design, consisting of a large map sprinkled liberally with repetitive collectibles and meaningless side content, was acceptable.
But that was before CD Projeckt Red completely redefined the genre with a game that had story, cutscenes and polish for every single mission. Heck, one random bandit camp had more story tucked away in the various notes left behind then the entirety of Destiny.
So it’s a great that Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
tarnishes what otherwise may have been a truly great experience if it hadn’t picked the wrong open world style to emulate, and had focused on the elements that made its predecessor a cult classic.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
takes place in a futuristic, dystopian city called Glass, notable among dystopias in that it’s one of the few that looks at leasts aesthetically pleasing to live in. Glass is ruled almost entirely by a series of mega corporations, whose grip on the city runs so deep that their control over their employees crosses over into virtually aspect of everyday life, including where you can travel, where you can live etc. Those who break these rules are exiled to horrific slave labor camps in the surrounding countryside.
However, the corporations are resisted by Runners, groups of black market parkour specialists who operate over the rooftops in order to facilitate communications that aren’t monitored. One such runner is our protagonist, Faith, who, after a two year stay in juvie, ends up embroiled in a conspiracy involving the city's biggest modul, Kreger, and must unravel the truth that threatens the entirety of the city.
There’s the germ of an interesting story here, Faith remains one of the coolest character designs out there, but the game doesn’t really commit to any of it’s interesting ideas. Nothing is explained in detail about the dystopian nightmare world the story revolves around, and none of the characters are really given much characterization beyond a broad archetype.
It’s not terrible, but more effort should’ve gone into the narrative beyond a few codex entries explaining what the story should’ve.
The free running parkour system, mostly unchanged from the original game, is fantastic when it works correctly. It’s a really invigoration and rewarding experience to expertly leap across rooftops, slide down a zipline and kick an unaware guard off a hundred story skyscraper. And for most of the game, this is really, really fun. Parkour has never worked this well in first person before, and it’s obvious that a lot has gone into smoothing out the kinks from the original.
However, like in the first game, there are more than a few sections focused on vertical climbing, where Faith has to climb from ledge to ledge. This completely drains the game of momentum and becomes a huge slog.
Speaking of slogs, the combat is kind of a mess. Faith can do a slew of combo attacks, but seeing as she’s such a light weight character that most of them aren’t very effective unless backed up by momentum….which is very hard to get in self contained rooms, meaning that players will have to run circles around heavily armed security troops in order to get up the speed to do any real damage.
Pushing guards off high places and dropping onto them from above is great, but only if it’s during a long, obstacle course like stretch of rooftop where they’re just another thing to be dodge around, not actively fought.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
is not a bad game, it’s just not nearly as good as it could’ve been. It reeks of sterile, corporate design forced upon it by exactly like the conglomerate that makes up the game’s villain gallery.
Fans of the last game will probably adore this one, thought it won’t blow anyone away.