Published on April 23rd, 2016 | by AjayLikesGaming1
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst – Closed Beta Impressions
The “open-world” trend terrifies me. Many successful linear series’ sequels have succumbed to the design, resulting in the abandonment of masterfully crafted areas, leaving nothing but sparse worlds packed to the brim with hopelessly dull side missions that do nothing but fragment an otherwise solid product – The Phantom Pain, anyone?
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is no Metal Gear, making its transition into an open world smoothly, with an environment that features the same meticulously designed freerunning routes that glistened in its 2008 debut. With main missions taking players back into the linear environments of old – albeit on a greater scale this time around – Catalyst strikes the much needed blend of freedom and design.
In a peculiar design decision, DICE has placed many of the original freerunning moves behind an unlock system – including the basic landing roll, and leg tuck. Though these abilities appear unlockable within only a few hours of play, this unnecessary barrier speaks volumes about the game’s new progression system. Offering only the illusion of progression, this system ultimately feels tacked on. With a multitude of time trials and side quests peppered throughout the world offering gamers the opportunity to genuinely master their skills, this is a strange and disappointing choice.
Thankfully, one big change comes as a welcome addition. Mirror’s Edge was heavily criticized for its woeful combat, with many gamers citing its design as incongruous with the rest of the gameplay. Catalyst makes great efforts to alleviate these issues, allowing players to take down enemies with a flurry of light attacks, or well-timed heavy hits. A Focus Meter servers as a shield, rewarding players by filling-up with each successful parkour move. This design encourages players to use the environment, taking down enemies off the back of a wall-run or vault. Though still somewhat clunky, Catalsyt’s combat finally feels at home in Mirror’s Edge.
Set prior to the events of the first game, the Faith Connors of Catalyst is enraged and reckless, thanks to the memories of her parents’ murder still fresh in her mind. With the stylized animated cutscenes of the previous outing replaced by fully animated in-engine offerings, the much improved narrative blends seamlessly with the playable world. In spite of the flurry of technobabble that seems to spew from every character’s mouth, the Catalyst beta spins the compelling beginnings of a tale of espionage and revenge.
It’s hard to say whether Catalyst will solve the many problems of its predecessor, but this bitesize preview shows great promise. With the game delayed until early June, the small technical hitches I experienced (minor stutter, and a few instances of getting stuck) should hopefully be ironed out. As someone who found the first game a little too unrefined and uncompelling to play for long stretches at a time, the two hours I spent with the beta did not feel like nearly enough.
With excellent visuals and performance on all platforms, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst certainly has the makings of this generation’s next big hit.
If you’ve had a chance to play the beta, let us know in the comments section below!