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Mirror's Edge: Catalyst

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: DICE
Release Date: June 7, 2016 (US), June 9, 2016 (EU)

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.

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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Mirror's Edge: Catalyst'

by Brian Dumlao on April 27, 2016 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Mirror's Edge sees the return of Faith, on her way to becoming a legendary runner in a totalitarian city overrun by corruption.

Pre-order Mirror's Edge: Catalyst

The last few months have seen loads of betas hit the scene on almost all of the platforms. It is rather unusual when compared to the last few years but makes sense when you consider how many games with multiplayer are set to arrive in the next few months. By contrast, the recent closed beta for Mirror's Edge: Catalyst feels much different because it has a significant amount of the single-player game as well as a sampling of the new multiplayer. Judging by what's here, fans of the original game will be pleasantly surprised.

Catalyst retains the kinetic movement for which the original was known. Faith is either standing still or running, and you can hold down the sprint button to make her run just a little faster. Every move in your arsenal helps you traverse things while minimizing the need to stop. The left bumper lets you leap toward building ledges and clamber over gates. You can use it in conjunction with your left analog stick to swing from pole to pole, get a running start toward ladders and vertical pipes, and do a little wall-running. It becomes the equivalent of the A button in Gears of War in terms of the many things it is allowed to do. The left trigger helps you slide under objects, and it also lets you do a softer landing to minimize damage from long falls. The right trigger lets you sprint and barge through doors.


It doesn't take long before you find yourself using all of these abilities to make spectacular runs from the rooftops of the city named Glass. This is certainly aided by the red highlights to objects, dubbed Runner's Vision, that help you quickly determine where you should go. New to this is the presence of ghosts that give you a trail to follow to reach your next objective. It isn't always the most optimal one, and experienced players will certainly find alternate paths to reach their destination faster, but it helps if you're getting your feet wet.

At the same time, even some of the more experienced runners may want to use this aid every now and then because the level design has changed greatly. Instead of doing runs on a level-by-level basis, you're taking them in an open-world setting. It isn't exactly a massive open world, so it pales in comparison to some of the bigger games in this space but is sizeable enough to feel immersive. You'll still be able to get an instinctual feel for where you are without relying too much on a map or other guides.

The move to a more open world comes with the usual things that people expect. Even in the rather lengthy beta, there was no shortage of side deliveries that had to be made and glyphs to obtain. Even if you cleared all of that, which would take quite some time after finishing the main quests, there's fun to be had in just traversing the world. The running system on its own is fun enough, and it's fascinating to see where you can go when off the beaten path.

This is perhaps why there's a multiplayer component in place to take advantage of the open world. Once the campaign portions of the beta ended, you could challenge any of the runs created by the community. You can opt to create your own, which simply requires you to place markers in any part of the level and then do the run yourself; leaderboards also exist for each challenge. By the end of the beta, the map was blanketed with player-created challenges. Though they're fun in their own right, the player-created challenges are for those who want some guidance or purpose instead of simply letting loose in the world.


One of the other changes is the introduction of an experience system. You start off with a pretty impressive set of moves, but completing missions and grabbing glyphs gets you XP, which in turn gives you upgrade points. Those points are used to either strengthen what you have, like increase your health, or give you new moves, like a roll when you do a soft landing. It's a little disappointing that you don't have all of the moves that you did from the outset of the original title, but the XP gain in the beta was quick enough that the upgrades come in quickly.

While the focus of the title is more about traversal and exploration, there is also a fighting component. Like the original, Faith doesn't use firearms, and any weapons she grabs from enemies get discarded rather quickly. Instead, you depend on your momentum to knock out foes with one superman punch or a sliding kick. Barring that, you can employ some quick punches or hard kicks, and you can strafe around the foe to reach their sides or back. Combat isn't exactly deep, but it is amusing to be able to knock foes into one another or make them fall from great heights as you make them stumble.

Even though this is beta code, the game runs on the Frostbite 3 engine and looks very nice. That praise falls mostly on the art style, as the white environments make the red indicators pop more, and the lighting and sparks add greatly to the standout style. The Xbox One version performs pretty much the same as EA's other games running on the same engine, like Battlefield: Hardline, so you've got 720p resolution but things are running at 60fps. That frame rate isn't completely solid, as there were times where the game paused for a second before running smoothly again. Since this breaks the fluidity that is supposed to be the game's signature, we hope this is addressed before the launch date.

So far, Mirror's Edge: Catalyst feels like a natural extension of the original title. Movement is just as fluid as you remember, and the open world gives you a more expansive playground to work with at the expense of a more linear gameplay path. The addition of asynchronous multiplayer elements gives the game some legs, and it'll be interesting to see how far the community takes things once it reaches a bigger audience. Word from EA is that the beta caused the game to be delayed a bit since it uncovered some issues, but based on our impressions from this beta, Catalyst is worth the extra wait.



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