Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst Review (Xbox One)
Gameplay: 4/5 – The controls are just about as good as the first game. You can’t pick up guns in this game but considering how useless they were in the first Mirror’s Edge, this doesn’t really bug me. There is a lot more fighting with guards in this game which felt a bit monotonous – but maybe I just didn’t bother to learn all the ins and outs of combat, so that could just be my own small gripe.
The climbing and free-running mechanics just feel excellent and running across the over-world is a blast. I was a little worried about the shift from focused levels (in the original Mirror’s Edge) to an open over-world, but I have to say that the city is an excellently varied game world and I never felt the settings were too repetitive.
The game has two variants of Runner’s Vision. The new variant (called “Full”) not only highlights objects in red but also shows you the route you’re supposed to take. I personally preferred the “Classic” version (which can be turned on from the settings), but the Full version is probably good for novice players still getting used to the game-mechanics. And for really hard-core runners, you even have the option of turning RV off entirely.
Probably the single thing that bugs me the most about this instalment, ironically the same as the first game, are the occasionally super long reload times when you die during a mission.
Graphics: 4½/5 – I can’t really fault the game for anything here. Like I said, the game’s world is just wonderfully worried. You’ll get to run through the downtown area ad nauseam, but there are also unique locations within it, the up-town sections look amazing and I even enjoyed the construction sites. The guards also have slightly more variety and because you interact with story characters outside the levels, you see more characters. Part of me kinda misses the simplified look of the original game but DICE has clearly put a lot of love and detail into the game world so I don’t have the heart to criticise it.
Except, that sometimes it’s not really obvious where you’re supposed to go with some walkways and stairwells blending perfectly into the walls.
Animation: 4/5 – This may feel harsh, but I genuinely preferred the 2D animated cutscenes of the first game over the engine-rendered ones in this game. I do think the cutscenes look amazing for the most part but I also feel the game maybe loses a little bit of something in its atmosphere.
Music 3½/5 – The music just honestly doesn’t stand out the same way it did in the original game and that’s probably because you have so many characters chatting you up through the game. Whenever the game does quiet down on the chatter though, there are some genuinely awesome pieces of electronic music. The soundtrack is pretty chill though. I maybe need to give it another listen but nothing really jumped out at me about it.
Sound: 4/5 – The voice-acting is mostly solid and there is only one thing about it that irked me. Most of the voice-cast was excellent and I especially loved the voice-performances for Noah, Plastic and Dogen. Also, the dialogue is occasionally quite funny with the myriad of characters talking with Faith. The down-side is that there’s maybe a little bit too much chatter and I have to be honest, occasionally I would just ignore what the characters were saying (especially Rebecca) because I just wanted to focus on climbing. This doesn’t devalue the dialogue, but I found myself cringing at the constant mentions of “KrugerSec”, “Employs” and “Scrip”. There’s lore building and then there’s trying too hard.
Also, I found the prospect of doing almost any fragile delivery mission incredibly unappealing. For whatever reason, the people employing you have to play an audio-log every time you start or restart the mission (yes, every time) and they are always the whiniest, most annoying characters in the game-world. But the delivery missions are entirely optional, so you do have the choice of not listening to these assholes talk until the cows come home.
Plot: 4/5 – The plot of this game is definitely a step-up from the first one in the sense that the individuals involved are defined a lot more clearly. The character motivations and different factions are just a whole lot more clear and the stakes for the runners are also more well-defined. In fact, the only problem I see with the game is side-thread of the plot concerning Faith’s sister and the finale definitely feels a little over-the-top and rushed. Still, everything leading up to that point is excellent.
Replay value: 4/5 – I do have to say that the game impressed me. The side-missions are actually pretty easy and fun to do on the sidelines and the big over-world makes it feel like you can go do more stuff after finishing the main story. Plus, the game has more length this time, so playing through it a second time shouldn’t feel as eerily familiar as playing through the first game a second time. I feel I might give some of the side-missions a whirl even now that I’ve completed the main-story.
Score: 80% – Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst is a game that does a lot of things right and feels like a really solid package because of it. It does have a lot of minor nit-picks about it but over-all it actually improves on the first game in almost every way. I still sort of prefer the simplicity of the original – but Catalyst is a very different type of game from the first one. Both games are excellent in their own way. But those of you who felt the first Mirror’s Edge was a little too short and didn’t offer enough to do after you beat the main game are probably going to enjoy the sequel way more.
Mirror’s Edge (Xbox 360) – Score: 76%
- GAM: 4/5 – GRA: 3/5 – ANI: 5/5 – MUS: 4/5 – SOU: 4/5 – PLOT: 3½/5 – R.V.: 3/5