Man, I remember it like it was just yesterday. Parkour was blazing a trail across the internet and was featured heavily in movies like Casino Royale and the Jason Bourne franchise. So, naturally, it was only a matter of time before the video game world got its own taste of this flourishing extreme sport.
The original Mirror’s Edge was released when there was absolutely nothing like it at the time. There were first-person shooters everywhere you looked, so imagine the shock when DICE and EA (the partnership that brought one of my favorite games, Battlefield: Bad Company) decide to make a first-person game that was all about the movement instead.
This unique quality and the exciting gameplay helped this game find a dedicated audience and it seemed like a sequel was always going to be a sure thing. Well, after years of waiting that sequel finally came in 2016 when the world was finally introduced to the long-awaited, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst.
But that was over 4 years ago and let’s be real. There are a plethora of games on offer these days that can deliver that sweet sweet parkour action in a variety of fun and exciting ways. What was once a unique franchise isn’t so special anymore when we’re getting a new Assassin’s Creed every year, if you know what I mean.
Still, this game wouldn’t have the fan base it has without being a little entertaining and, since I never got the chance to play this game when it was released, there’s no better time than now to grab it on EA Play through the Xbox Game Pass. So, without further ado, let’s see if Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst is still good in 2020?
MIRROR’S EDGE: CATALYST
So, What’s It All About?
In Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, you play as Faith Connors. A young and rebellious ‘Runner’ fresh out of juvenile detention, eager to right the wrongs of her past by doing the thing she does best…running. So, right from the start it’s all about the parkour gameplay and traversing the static, quasi-futuristic city known as Glass.
Every citizen within Glass is classified according to their financial status and their overall worth to society. There is no such thing as privacy and all their information is constantly tracked and monitored through the Grid to make sure that no one slacks or steps out of line. Crime might be non-existent as a result but freedom has no place here as well.
Runners live completely off the Grid, unchecked by societal laws, and, as a result, they’re not as welcome as the regular citizens (known as Employs). This means that while traversing the many rooftops, you’ll need to avoid the security cameras and Krugersec security forces that are always on patrol exploring doesn’t feel like a chore.
Unlike the first game that was very linear with its design Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst is open-world through and through, giving the player freedom to explore the city outside of the usual story missions you’ll be taking part in. So you can tackle the missions whenever you’re done getting familiar with all the acrobatic fun that this city has to offer.
Main missions and side missions are given to you by the main characters in the game that are often located in the Safe Houses scattered throughout the city. There are also optional delivery missions as well and time trials that can be found on the map and accessed as you make your way through the map.
So, What’s GOOD About It?
The major selling point for any Mirror’s Edge game is the gameplay itself. The franchise prides itself on delivering a great first-person parkour experience and this time…I think they nailed it. By no means do I think it’s perfect but, as the main feature of the game, it doesn’t disappoint.
Especially with the new and improved navigation system, you got this time around. In the previous game, your path was shown to you by highlighting all the objects you can interact with in red. So the ideal railing, drain pipe, or ledge would turn a bright red to indicate that this is the way you should go.
This time we get a trail to follow called ‘Runner Vision’ which, again, isn’t perfect but the ideal path was a lot easier to follow, helping to keep the momentum going since this wasn’t like Assassins’ Creed where you could climb on nearly every object in sight. Plus, it’s not a strict path and you can deviate if you think you see an easier route. It just helps a lot, especially inside buildings to always be aware of where you need to go.
Some Side Content Is Fun
There’s a lot of extra content to digest within the world of Mirror’s Edge as well which helped to extend the overall playtime just a little. My favorite was the Gridnodes that were these giant computer servers that we have to climb in order to hack into it and it was a great change of pace because these sections force you to slow down and do some proper platforming.
The combat also surprised me as well. A lot of the time, you’ll have the option of running away from any Krugersec forces since it’s the more advantageous move but, in those moments where you have to fight, it was pretty satisfying taking on multiple enemies with Faith’s basic move set. It’s not deep but there’s enough there to make the fights entertaining.
— Stevius Maximus (@SteviusM) December 8, 2020
So, What’s BAD About It?
CIt goes without saying, I’m a huge fan of single-player campaigns and it’s the genre I play and review the most. There’s nothing I love more than a compelling narrative to compliment the exceptional gameplay and this is where Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst takes a suicidal leap straight off the rooftops of Glass.
Pick any word you can think of to describe bad writing and it will apply to this game’s story. Character? I can’t stand most of the characters we meet. Pacing? This game just dumps information in your lap and expects you to comprehend what’s happening on screen. Emotional Investment? I don’t care about anything that’s happening, no matter things explode.
Like, seriously, there are moments where new information brings a twist to the story and it comes out of nowhere. There was no build-up or foreshadowing, they just tell you this information and expect you to be shocked. Even when one of the main characters meets their demise, it feels so lifeless. Like, why should I care?
It’s All About The Side Content
To make things worse, this entire story is short af. I found desperately looking for some side missions at one point just to make sure I didn’t rush through this game too fast, and it was still too short. The main campaign takes up about 30% of the overall content and I was left wandering around wanting more, and not in a good way.
The majority of the activities outside of the main missions aren’t a relaxing side option either. A lot of these Deliveries and Diversions required near-perfect runs in order to complete them without fuss and I didn’t want to spend all my time doing these generic runs that didn’t add any value to my character or my progression in the story.
— Stevius Maximus (@SteviusM) December 8, 2020
If you’re a Speedrunner or a Completionist at heart, then there’s a lot for you to enjoy from a game like Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. There is an abundance of collectibles to find and nailing all of those Deliveries and Diversions is sure to keep you busy for weeks to come as you finsih it off 100%.
But, if you’re a casual player looking for an awesome single-player experience, then you’re better off leaving this game on the shelf. While it may have been a one-of-a-kind game in the past, there are many parkour games on the market today that offer all that same platforming gameplay but with a little something extra…like zombies for instance.
So, if you’ve already signed up for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and EA Play, then this will be a decent playthrough even if it’s just for few hours of some interesting parkour action.
Have you played Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst? What did you think of this first-person platforming adventure? let me know in the comments section below.