I have to admit, so I’ll come out and just say it – I was never a big fan of Mirror’s Edge. Not even close to the level of adoration part of the public was in when it was released a few years ago. So much so that I wasn’t among the screaming crowd that was demanding a sequel all this time. And I wasn’t the only one just shrugging at that game. It was mostly a flop.
That’s not to say I hated Mirror’s Edge. The concept of playing a first-person urban traversal game was incredible at the time, and thanks to an interesting premise and impeccable art design, I was into the idea of giving it a go. It was the constant fail states and easy to miss jumps that really toned down my overall experience with that game. The trial and error was just a huge pain for me to get through, so in the end, I did complete Mirror’s Edge, but more out of sheer will than any actual love for it. It was just okay and I was just happy to had been done with it.
So when word got out that DICE was going to give the franchise another shot, I was cautious and kept a skeptical stance towards it. Given I’d be having an appointment with EA at E3 this year, I decided to stop by Mirror’s Edge Catalyst‘s space first and tear that band-aid right off. If it was gonna be bad, might as well get it out of the way, right?
Glad to report, I was wrong in being worried. Catalyst surpassed my expectations, and sure, those were low to begin with, but now I can safely say that I want to play another Mirror’s Edge game. The E3 demo started with a pre-recorded intro video that set us up with the overarching story and setup for the game. Apparently, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst aims to be a prequel of sorts to the original, or a complete reboot of the Faith character. If either the latter or former, I didn’t give much thought – I was worried about how playing the game would turn out.
So the playable portion of the show floor demo gave us 15 minutes to free roam around the city of Glass, a single tone metropolis that’s completely taken over by an authoritarian force, that much like the original game’s, is kind of a dick to the general population. Faith’s gets released out of what seems to be jail when she’s soon contacted by the resistance, and for the sake of brevity, or the moment where most players would just skip through the dialogue, we’re pushed out into the world and taught the basic controls for the game.
Much like the original Mirror’s Edge, Catalyst‘s aim is to bulldoze the idea that Faith is an incredible urban acrobat. She can jump, climb and get around just about any obstacle, a set of skills that is put to the test in the urban landscape of the city.
The free roaming part of the demo had me checking the mini map for mission markers while I did my best to stay on top of the buildings and not the opposite. The missions themselves were simple and easy to tackle, once again for brevity’s sake. One had Faith run checkpoint to checkpoint across, which went to show how fluid the traversal is in the game, impressively so.
Another quest, mission, thing, had us punching the crap out of some guards just because. The combat, much like the movement, is all about momentum, so running into a dude and knowing when to keep the motion going as you counter them is vital. The general rule throughout the demo was “if you stop, you’re dead”, so that’s what I did a couple of times, just to test out that theory. Okay, scratch that. I was just plain bad. Once I got into the flow, though, those fools didn’t stand a chance as I approached the objective, a box with a button prompt.
After that, I had to make it to the third challenge. Time was of the essence. And that ended up being a delivery mission which for better or for worse, ended easily enough for me to get a prompt to look for hidden packages as the demo time ended and the splash screen with Catalyst‘s logo came up.
For my time with the demo, I came out impressed. The free roaming portion was less than ideal when you could compare it to the infinite variety of games that make the same claim nowadays, but given it was a pre-release version that wanted you guided along a set path, certain rails are to be expected.
The gameplay itself was fine enough. Putting all the controls under two buttons worked surprisingly well, or as much as it did back in the original game. That was the wonder of the first Mirror’s Edge, that taste of flying across rooftops, which died down once Faith started to dabble with indoors, and it’s what I worry might also bog down Catalyst. Still, I’m hopeful for what’s to come from DICE.
And there won’t be much of a wait to see the result. Mirrors Edge Catalyst is set for February 23rd, 2016 on just about every console you want, as long as it’s an Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Or PC. That’s not a console.