It's almost been eight long years since we were acquainted with runner Faith. Despite hints of a sequel in 2009, years of silence after Mirror's Edge
was released meant that fans of the game lost all hope of a sequel. Eventually, rumours circulated about a new game and it was finally revealed that our runner would be able to stretch her legs once again. It's been a long time coming, but this month saw the release of the heavily anticipated Mirror's Edge Catalyst
. Is Faith's new and long awaited adventure worth it after all this time?
Faith makes the jump to Xbox One
The original Mirror's Edge
told the story of Faith, a young woman who possessed the impressive skill of galloping across rooftops at lightning speed as she aimed to thwart a tyrannical organisation in a totalitarian society. We saw her story progress in a linear fashion, playing through a number of missions until completion, and then maybe coming back to segments for speed run challenges. That is really all that the game had to offer. This time around, though, Mirror's Edge Catalyst
has replaced linearity with an open world. At first this seemed unusual as it was a drastic change for the franchise, but this actually works in the game's favour. Main missions still take priority over the rest of the game, but you are now given freedom in what you want to do next. The world is quite literally your playground where aimlessly racing from one rooftop to another is just as viable an activity as any mission.
The playground through which you run is the city of Glass. You will only see the city itself via the rooftops, just like the previous game. Mirror's Edge Catalyst
shares the same visual style as its predecessor, toting vibrant colours amongst a sea of crisp white buildings. Particular areas, especially later ones, are beautiful. While they appear as rather simplistic in some respects, the colour palette compliments the overall game design very well. In the midst of your sprinting, it's sometimes worth slowing down and looking out to the city as its futuristic and bright design is definitely easy on the eyes. This city is heavily under the influence of KrugerSec, an organisation that completely opposes the runners and everything of which they represent. Being one of these runners, Faith begins her journey after being granted release from jail at the start of the game. Of course, she despises KrugerSec with a passion. The story starts relatively slowly but despite being fairly predictable, it does have its moments as it progresses.
Faith's playground is definitely pretty in places
Almost all of your time in Mirror's Edge Catalyst
will be spent putting Faith's lung capacity to the test with running. The last instalment allowed you to jump across large gaps, climb up pipes and ladders, run across walls and skillfully traverse over fences without losing momentum. That same gameplay continues here and not all that much has changed, something that isn't bad in any respect as the running feels very fluid and perfectly mirrors Faith's skill. Stringing together movement combos looks smooth and it causes this insatiable desire to constantly run as quickly as possible across the map even when you aren't travelling to anywhere specific. You may sometimes screw up a wallrun or wallclimb and so Faith looks rather inelegant as she crashes to the floor, but this is counteracted by the suitably fast paced nature and accessibility of the gameplay.
With how fast you can run, Faith can unfortunately spend a lot of time accidentally jumping or slipping off a roof to her death. When on a particular mission or side activity, this can become extremely frustrating if it starts happening on a regular basis. Checkpoints seem to be frequent and so progress isn't really lost as such, but nonetheless it is with practice that you'll truly become a master at running. Expect to make plenty of wrong moves and get Faith killed throughout your time with the game. Despite this, the need to constantly be on the move will never stagnate even if it is easy to put one foot out of place.
If you aren't running to your heart's content then you'll be engaging in combat. Gunplay has now been taken out of the game completely and the focus is purely on melee. Faith has been given access to a variety of new moves to keep her out of harm's way and with them you will always want to be on the move as you fight. Shift gives you a burst of acceleration in the chosen direction and in combat this is essential in dodging enemy attacks. Faith has to mix up her combos to stop herself from being hit and when you begin to go from a heavy kick to a light punch while swiftly strafing around enemies, it looks just as fluid as the running gameplay. Staying on the move will also help you to build up your focus shield, and this is basically your health. It is crucial when against large crowds of enemies or tougher opponents, so be sure to not stand still when fighting. It's a vast improvement on combat for the franchise but it can still be a tad irritating when you are suddenly stunned by a projectile while running at full speed.
If Faith stays on the move, KrugerSec stands no chance
Alongside the main missions, the city of Glass has plenty for you to do. In true open world fashion, optional side activities litter the map and it's up to you where you want to go. The game doesn't completely overwhelm you with content, though, and within 10-12 hours a decent amount of main missions as well as all types of side activities had been sampled multiple times. There are various scenarios in which to take part, but nearly all of them are things that we've seen done before. Hacking things and navigating to specific nodes isn't particularly original, but it still adds more choice to the game. The game is also packed full with collectables, a lot of which seem to be pointless for the most part. As you complete the various missions available to you, Faith will gain XP that will eventually unlock another point for her skill trees. There are plenty of moves and gear to unlock. Some items will be accessible periodically throughout the game but the rest of them will be chosen by you. It's nothing too special, but it's a serviceable way of getting players to earn their skills and gives collectables some meaning when gaining XP from them.
Package deliveries will have you going from point A to point B in a given time limit and this can be rather tough to do. That is because the game regularly gives just enough time to do it, as long as you don't make mistakes. Frustration returns again here as you will find yourself attempting them time after time until you find the best route. Faith's runner vision helps to guide the way but this only shows a direct route, not necessarily the fastest one. This means that it will be a case of trial and error until you know exactly what to do. It can feel slightly harsh but unlike main missions that aren't timed, this is where the challenge lies in Mirror's Edge Catalyst
Dashes are the other time based activity and these are the closest counterpart to the time trials of the original. Here, you will need to be even more aware of your surroundings and so find the best route to the end to acquire the coveted three star rating. Following the markers will get you to the end, but not always in a good time. Like the package deliveries, this is where the challenge lies in the game. They aren't quite as frustrating, though, as you aren't forced to try again unless you do so by choice.
Mirror's Edge Catalyst There's always a way for a runner to get up here
has 49 achievements in total and they aren't nearly as daunting as the first game. You will gain plenty of story achievements as you play through and simply trying out everything enough times will net you others. You'll have to scour every inch of the rooftops for all the collectables, though, as well as earn three stars on every dash, which is probably the toughest achievement of them all. With a few guides and enough dedication, even the average player should be able to bag them all.
We've waited almost too long for Mirror's Edge
to make a comeback, but now that it has returned, was it worth it? Yes it was. While the story is nothing to write home about, the core gameplay of Mirror's Edge Catalyst
is its biggest strength. Running is fluid and the moves flow together to create perfectly executed combinations. The overhauled combat is enjoyable, and simply staring out to the city vistas is a joy in itself. With the new open world style of play, there is more freedom than ever but side activities aren't particularly unique. Throughout it all you will see Faith plunging to the ground regularly, but with this comes more practice and you'll constantly want to come back for more running action. Whether you're a fan of the original or a newcomer, this is a title for which you may want to stop.
- New open world style of play works well
- Visuals and colour palette are simple yet impressive
- Running feels very fluid
- Combat vastly improved from the original game
- A lot of game elements and side missions are unoriginal
- Trial and error and many deaths can lead to frustration
The reviewer spent 15 hours running across rooftops and getting Faith killed far too many times. 32 of the game's achievements were earned in the process. A physical copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.