9 years ago, shortly after the release of one of the most popular gaming franchises to date, I had a reason to get a console but had no motivation to support the habit…that was until however, a year later, we saw the release of the first Mirror’s Edge and got introduced to the now iconic Faith, tattoo’d eye logo and futuristic sandbox courier service known to us as runners. I played it on PC, and played it on console, more times than I would like to admit and a sequel was the fantasy of all Mirror’s Edge fans.
Did we get what we wanted?
Sorta-kinda. We did not get a sequel, but more a “prequel-come-reboot-slash-face-lift”. By no standard is this a bad thing, reboots often have a chance to fix past mistakes or even to improve on past success with even more epic features and content. Catalyst, made me feel like after 8 years, I was still sitting behind my screen, running across rooftops in the City of Glass. A seamless transition.
From the start of the game, Faith is on the run, but her skills are slightly rusty from her time in “Juvie” and are in need of either refreshing or complete overhaul. This is where the experience point system comes into play. After each core mission, side mission or dash, Faith earns experience points and scrip (moolah) which you spend on combat, movement and gear upgrades via a skill tree. This helps make the game easier to navigate and grants fluid access to those hard to reach zones, bolstering your ability to either avoid or take down any soldiers standing in your way. While Faith is on the move, she builds up a “Runner’s Shield,” which is basically a heightened sense of perception (Damage Reduction System) which encourages you to actively avoid combat, but too often Catalyst thrusts you in the path of baddies with very little or no place to escape.
New to the franchise’s Runner’s Vision is an upgraded sense of direction. where previously, interact-able objects were highlighted in red, that still exists, but you now have the addition of a sparkly red trail showing you the “road most traveled”. Hindsight is 20/20, so it is very easy to complain and say that this system takes the fun out of exploring, however, the game often reminds you to “try and explore to create your own routes”. The story is annoyingly familiar, and seen very often in games and movies today, but I still found myself biased, engaging with Faith and what she had been through, making me want to change life for the better for Faith. With a drive to push the main plot it becomes evident that Faith needs to save the populous from a future of “Telekinetic slavery” while gracefully floating up shattering flights of stairs conveniently made of glass.
There are a lot of social features as well. Your city is linked to your friends’ city (those who have the game as well). You have a custom “Runner Tag” that you upload when you hack certain electronic billboards (map region domination), and that then pulls through to your friends’ city, showing them that you “own” that sector. You can also compare your dash times with your friends’ via a shared leaderboard, making competitive play more fun and rewarding. There is also a Mirror’s Edge Companion App for your tablet or smartphone that links you to your Runner Profile anywhere you go, very similar to the in-game “beat link”, allowing you to keep tabs on your dash times, billboard hacks and even allows you to set way points in-game which will be waiting for you when you log into the game again.
Seriously… Did we get what we wanted?
We wanted a sequel, but got something different. Many people are disappointed, but I am not. The hype has been controlling our expectations, but remember, the world is a nasty place and you can either be swayed by the trend, or you can become the trend by making up your own mind as to whether Catalyst is epic or not. I love it, I find it relaxing and frustrating at the same time. It introduced a few mechanics that will remind you of a similar gaming franchise, which others are hating on, but I think it was done to try win over fans from that franchise. A bold move. A risky move. Something the game did not need in it to be great though. If you loved the first game, you will enjoy this too.
Reviewed on: Sony PS4
Available on: PC, PS4 & Xbox One
Genre: Platform Action, Adventure
Age Rating: Mature L
Publisher/Developer: EA DICE, Electronic Arts
Estimated RRP: R899.00
Release Date: 9 June 2016
- Graphics & Physics
- Soundtrack and Atmosphere
- Relate-able Characters
- Familiarity to a different popular franchise