MIRROR'S EDGE: CATALYST
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on June 13, 2016
I see towers of glass, red pathways too
They are a guide for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world...
...or, at least, that’s what I would think if these damn K-Sec bastards weren’t constantly trying to kill me!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the city of Glass. A sprawling metropolis, where everyone’s a winner, opportunity lurks around every corner and everybody is free to live their lives the way they want to. At least, that is what the Conglomerate (a group of humongous corporations that effectively rules the city) would have you believe. In truth, the ones who are truly free make their living as runners on the rooftops of giant skyscrapers. Runners are essentially couriers, making deliveries across the city for money. And while the rest of the population is connected to the Grid (a giant social media hub that tracks everyone that is linked to it), these runners are not. This is a thorn in the side of the CEO of Kruger Security, the largest corporation in the conglomerate. So, as you might expect, this guy comes down hard on any runner he can get his hands on. This is where his security force, K-Sec, comes in quite handy!
In Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, you play as a runner called Faith, whom we’ve already met in the first Mirror’s Edge game, some eight years ago. The events of Catalyst are set before the events of the original game, making it a prequel. When the game starts, we see Faith being released from prison after being put there for a robbery just a year ago. The moment she’s out of prison, she is met by a fellow runner named Icarus, who gets her off the grid again and tells her to meet up with Noah; the leader of the local Runners and the person who raised Faith after her parents died in the November uprising against conglomerate control, which took place years before the events of the game. After dodging a few K-Sec troops that have immediately sprung into action after it was discovered that Faith disappeared from the Grid, she meets up with Noah and is pulled right back into the world of the Runner resistance.
And what a world it is! The city of Glass looks more impressive than ever and absolutely beautiful. The characters look way better than they did in the original Mirror’s Edge game and although this is to be expected of a game that’s eight years younger than its predecessor, it’s still something I really wanted to mention. It’s just that much easier to immerse yourself in a story when the characters are more believable. Also, the combat system which, in Mirror’s Edge, always kinda felt like an afterthought, has been revamped and works better than ever. In Catalyst, the focus lies even more on constantly moving, even going so far as to increase the damage of an attack if this attack is made from traversal.
So yes, you can still kick enemies around while standing still, but is far more effective to do a wall-run, jump off and land feet first on an enemies head. You are constantly being encouraged to keep moving, which greatly influences the pace of the entire game. Another thing to keep in mind is that there’s always more than one way to skin a cat. Now, before some of you begin scouring the game for a cat and a fillet knife, please note that this is just an expression. What I actually meant was that there are always more ways to reach your destination. Your runners vision will show you one route, but this does not mean that it is always the fastest or best route to where you’re going.
The use of firearms by Faith has been completely removed from the game; she now only uses her fists and feet when going up against K-Sec forces. And keep in mind that running away is always a viable option when running low on health. As Faith runs through the city, she builds op a Focus Shield, greatly increasing her ability to withstand damage. Build up enough focus and she is even able to dodge bullets; stand still for too long and Focus begins to drop, making you more vulnerable to enemy attacks. So as long as you keep moving, you’ll be fine… at least, if you don’t miss a jump and plummet to your death, that is.
I played the original Mirror’s edge game when it came out. What I notice most about playing Catalyst is that, this time around, the controls are much more responsive and better up to the task of steering Faith clear of the many dangers that lurk among the rooftops of the city. This alone makes Catalyst much more fun to play in my opinion. Also, as I said earlier, the upgraded combat system makes surviving somewhat more easier when you choose to confront the K-Sec forces around the city. The combat really feels part of the game in Catalyst, instead of the “oh yes, you can also try to kick peoples’ asses if you’re brave enough” approach of the original game. What I also especially like is are the extra tools Faith has in her arsenal; the Mag-rope and the Disruptor. The former of the two lets you latch on to certain metal surfaces or objects and swing your way across large gaps, while the latter enables you to overload K-Sec equipment or even destroy their AI core. Combine this with a couple of cool moves, like the new ‘Shift’ move (a move that allows you to quickly dodge an enemy’s attack and open the way for follow-up attacks) and the Quick-turn, and your see your chances of survival increase by the second.
At the end of the day, one can only come to the conclusion that Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst is a really good game. It focuses heavily on the use of momentum and your ability to keep moving, no matter what. It has an immersive story that tells us how Faith became the famous runner she was in the original game. The overall experience of Mirror’s edge: Catalyst is far more intense and action-packed than its predecessor ever was. If you’re not in the mood for just following the story, you can also choose to fulfill other assignments, provided to you by citizens across the city. Successfully completing these events will reward you with cash and XP points which, in turn, let you upgrade Faith’s abilities and gear. You can even compete in or point-to-point races if you feel like doing so. The fun thing about these races is the fact that they are not defined by the developers of the game, but by players from all across the globe. You could just plan out a race and compete against these players for the fastest time.
Granted, Mirror's Edge: Catalyst may not be the perfect game for everyone; but then again, which game out there is?! And although I wasn’t a big fan of the first Mirror’s Edge game, I really liked playing Catalyst. It’s just a better game in every way; it looks better, sound better and handles better. What could we possibly want more? So, if you’re in the mood for some free-running across a beautifully crafted city and disrupting the plans of an evil conglomerate of corporations at the same time, Mirror’s Edge really is your best bet!. Just don’t trip and fall, because it is one hell of a long way down!