Never being the most active person, it’s quite easy to see the appeal of free-running (or parkour, as the kids are calling it these days). Flying across rooftops, leaping gaps in a single bound and scaling walls without breaking a sweat - none of these things are possible in the real world without a lot of hard work and training, but, thankfully, you can take the easy way out and get an approximation of the experience with Mirror’s Edge Catalyst.
You start with 11 of the 19 available movement upgrades already unlocked, and it still feels like one vital basic - the landing-comforting roll - should be unlocked by default as well, making the system feel slightly off. You do get a distinctly Batman-esque grappling hook after a while which changes up the traversal a bit, but the places you can use it feel a little limited by comparison.
Combat is at least a lot easier to master this time around; there’s no failing to pick just the right moment to grab an enemy’s gun or being repeatedly kicked off a building here. In fact, Faith doesn’t use firearms this time around, and wouldn’t even if she could, a know-it-all loading screen tells us. Sadly this element of the backstory is limited to a companion comic, which isn’t included with the game, so many will never know the fully fleshed-out story of why Faith was in prison.
The other characters are fairly one-note, particularly compared to the cinematic presentations we’ve seen in other games since the first game’s 2008 release. For many this won’t be an issue though, as they try that Dash just one more time in aid of beating their friend’s best time, or scratch their heads trying to work out the best way to get to a far flung ledge.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a project many have been looking forward to since the first game achieved cult status. Though not an actual sequel, it’s taken eight years to get back into exploring this world, and it does feel long overdue. Some elements are improved over the first game, whilst others seem to have backtracked, which is somewhat unsettling considering the industry’s advancement.
Obviously the map looks fantastic, though perhaps a bit too clean, and the movement is still fluid and addictive once you’ve got the upgrades you need. It’s a shame in a way that the game hasn’t been released in tandem with a VR version, as it’s always felt like exactly the sort of experience which would work well in that medium.
As a passion project, which it surely must be compared to the Battlefield and Battlefronts of the world, it hits the notes it needs to to be a game which DICE can be proud of, and for players, while it might not bring a lot of new elements to the table, it does what it does extremely well and is absolutely a game worth playing.
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