One of the games I was most looking forward to seeing at this year’s EB Expo was Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. I was huge fan of the original – and while I didn’t get the hands-on time with the game I hoped for, I did get a sneak peek of what looks to be a really exciting follow up to 2008’s first-person parkour-em-up..
There’s a bit of confusion surrounding what exactly Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is. However, I left the presentation for the game feeling a little more enlightened on the topic. Catalyst is intended to be a reboot that tells the origin story of Faith – however, it appears to take place in a separate continuity to the original Mirror’s Edge and isn’t going to be bending over backwards to make the two games fit together. It’s a little bit like how NBC’s Hannibal is a prequel to The Silence of the Lambs but also very much exists within its own universe.
The flipside of this confusion is that DICE has a bit more freedom this time around to get ambitious with the game’s story elements. The dystopian corporate backdrop of the first game returns but there are few new players in the mix – from a new rebel faction known as Black November to the game’s major antagonist Gabriel Kruger.
From the footage we saw of the game in action, levels seem a lot bigger and there’s much more room for experimentation and choice in how you traverse the city. However, it was unclear whether the game is structured around a proper open world or within a number of larger-potentially connected zones (ala Dragon Age: Inquisition). Also absent from what we saw was any sort of minimap which struck me as worrisome. If Catalyst is going the open world route, navigating the city could get real frustrating real fast without any sort of navigation mechanic or UI element.
Combat was a big sticking-point for the original Mirror’s Edge. For a game that was all about movement, it was rightfully infuriating when that flow was interrupted by frustratingly generic shootout sequences. Catalyst looks to be rectifying this by incorporating the game’s emphasis on movement into how you approach combat. In the footage we saw, Faith used the environment to launch herself onto foes and knock them to the ground in stylish ways that still let maintained her speed and momentum.
Though I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get to try the game first hand, I came away from EA’s presentation with a much better understanding of what Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is trying to be. Rebooting a series opens up a lot of creative doors for DICE and if the final game can deliver, it could be something well worth the wait for fans.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst releases on the 23rd of February 2016.