Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA DICE
Release Date: 06/07/2016
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Mirror’s Edge is actually one of my favorite games of all time. It didn’t sell well, hence the near-decade hiatus, and a lot of gamers just didn’t get the game. It also had a lot of flaws such as linear level design, a paper-thin story, and awful combat. While Catalyst improves upon a lot of weaknesses from the first game it also never addresses some as well. EA DICE really tried pushing the story further by showing us more of Faith’s past and how she’s tied to the KrugerSec conglomerate that’s brainwashing the entire country. Faith, along with the help of friends, must stop this evil police state and try and free the people. While this is good and all, the problem is that the world itself is sterile, boring, and so are the characters. There’s no reason to really care outside of the somewhat entertaining story missions thrown at us. Icarus, Plastic, Noah, and various other characters just feel like cookie-cutter generic fill-ins for something that could be more.
This also goes for learning about the world. The majority of the game is actually filled with side missions, time trial runs, collecting things, and audio recordings. Here’s the problem with all of this. I just do not care one iota to do any of these. I spent a good ten hours trying to complete every mission as I went on and then I just gave up. I don’t care about this world enough to bother spending more than the 8-10 hours the story missions give me. While the art style is faithful to the original with vibrant reds, blues, whites, and oranges, running around the city on top of Glass just isn’t interesting. I’m glad there’s an open world here rather than linear level design, but if it’s filled with boring filler content just give me a better linear story mode. I don’t want to hack billboards to put my “ghost” on it for other players to see. I don’t want to create my own run trials for others to play. I have never cared less for an open world than in Catalyst. You pretty much see the entire city during the story missions, but after collecting the 100th chip, the 150th blue orb, and finishing at least two dozens of trial runs and side missions I just stopped caring. There’s no real reward for finishing all of these either outside of “drops” you get to customize your ghost for players to see online.
Here’s something else to consider. I had this game installed on my PC for four years before finally finishing it. I wanted to complete the game as much as possible, but every time I booted it up and saw the dozens and dozens of icons on the maps, finished a few side missions, I turned it off. I have never had a game installed on my PC for that long without making frequent progress. I had a kid, went through three GPU generations, built two whole PCs, became a nurse, moved states, lost my father, and have a second kid on the way. All that happened between release and finishing the game. The world is just plain boring and the story isn’t interesting enough to warrant sticking around for most gamers. I really like Faith, as she’s a well-designed character, but her personality is very one-note and she feels generic as well.
Let’s talk about what you actually can do in the game. The entire appeal of Mirror’s Edge is the parkour system. The first person parkour system is a lot of fun, and honestly the only saving grace for the entire franchise. You can run, jump, slide, double jump, zipline, and propel yourself around the buildings with grace. The new runner’s vision is a must as this is a red line you follow and the objects you need to use turn red. While running around and jumping around buildings is exciting, after 15 hours you grow tired of it sometimes. Only do the story missions provide something new to climb on or new environments to be in as well as scripted events. The controls work for the most part, but it’s the combat that hasn’t improved much and is a real pain. I honestly wish they just nixed combat all together for the series. You can do heavy and light attacks, but also while jumping off walls, off ledges onto enemies, and slide into their legs. If they’re stunned you can do quick three-hit combos, dodge and kick from behind, and all that jazz. It works, but it’s very frustrating when you confront more than two enemies at a time and it’s not fun when you aren’t on the move. Most of the time you can avoid enemies and only a few instances required me to take them down, but combat isn’t fun at all. The guns are gone in this game, but the combat just feels clunky, heavy, slow, and cumbersome.
That’s pretty all there is in the game. It looks fantastic as it pushed the Nvidia 10xx series cards to their limits when this game came out, and I remember my GTX 970 couldn’t run the game on Hyper settings at 60FPS. It just looks so good, but again very sterile and boring to actually be in. The main missions provide entertaining for about 8-10 hours, but the extra side stuff is a pointless borefest. The parkour system combined with an open world just isn’t interesting enough to justify spending 50+ hours completing everything. Every area pretty much looks the same and the characters are boring and generic and I feel the series needs a complete overhaul if it even gets one. Due to poor sales of this game, we may be seeing the last of Faith. Stay for the story and then don’t bother after that.