MIRROR'S EDGE CATALYST Hands On Impressions - E3 2015
There was one game I knew I had to play at E3 2015, and that game was Mirror's Edge Catalyst. I'm a HUGE Mirror's Edge fan, the original being easily one of my top 5 from the previous console generation. So the first stop I made was the massive EA booth. Luckily, everyone was clamoring for the Battlefront line, so getting in for Mirror's Edge wasn't too bad.
The demonstration was split into two parts: a 16 minute presentation and 16 minutes with the game itself. For the demonstration, we were walked in small groups into a clean white room, giving the feeling of walking right into the City of Glass itself. The presenter then went over what to expect in our new adventure with Faith.
Wanting to build on the story of the world they created in the original, Catalyst is meant to feel like a bigger, better, and more stunning version of the game we played years ago. The story of the Runners that was only touched on is now expanded, giving us Faith's motivation that turned her into who she is. The City of Glass is a city run by corporations. Its citizens have given up freedom for the comforts that a utopian society has to offer, but in doing so, humanity has enslaved itself to the rich and powerful. There are none more powerful than Gabriel Kruger, owner of Kruger Private Security. Kruger's thugs police the City of Glass and uphold his version of order by force.
Faith, a young member of the anti-establishment group known as the Runners, helps deliver outlawed information and work to raise citizen awareness of the injustices of their corporate world. After spending some time in a Kruger holding facility, she rejoins the ranks of the Runners, immediately reinstating her outlaw status and jumping of the grid and up to the rooftops.
While there is still a lot of mystery surrounding the story of Catalyst, the presenter let us know that our heroine will face off with corporate thugs as well as another anti-establishment group known as the Black November. While the Runners are seen as a public enemy, Black November is feared as a terrorist organization, favoring shock and awe over peaceful resistance. (Also, their costumes are really scary and badass looking.)
That covers what was told about the story, now let's get to why you're really here, the gameplay!
Ho-ho-holy shit! This game is gorgeous! The original game's graphics have certainly stood the test of time, especially on PC, but this sequel takes the clean graphics of the City of Glass and makes them really pop. The demo dropped us into one of the early barrows of the city and let us do whatever we wanted. There were three open quests available, each taking about 3 minutes. One was a time trial where a series of markers were set out in front of you and you had to reach each one using the fastest route possible. The second was a courier mission, where you are given a card with illegal information on it and told to get it to point B past a series of Kruger guards. And the final one is a billboard hacking mission, where you are asked to get to a billboard and hack the image using whatever route you desire.
The billboard mission felt very similar to the original game. You're here, get there. Go. The time trial presented a good level of difficulty, as beating the in-game high score required some pretty creative moves (The adorable little Japanese girl next to me who spoke hardly any English totally decimated my score though...). And the courier mission helped to demonstrate the combat, which has had a HUGE overhaul in this title, which is good. People loved to complain about the combat in Mirror's Edge, and DICE definitely listened. The combat, just like the game as a whole, puts a lot of emphasis on flow. Choosing the path of least resistance will slow you down, and slowing down can mean death. So instead, picking the path that will allow you to keep moving while delivering the most hard hitting blows is the best. And as before, there is a big emphasis on not using firearms, as you don't even seem to be able to pick them up in this title (Which I love. The pacifist trophy from the original is still one of my favorites.).
After completing the quests I had a good ten minutes to just enjoy the sandbox that is the City of Glass. While the demo restricted us to just this one area, it still felt like I could go anywhere and that the only thing holding me back was my own creativity. If you think of a way to get somewhere, chances are you probably can.
In closing, Mirror's Edge Catalyst was fantastic! I can't wait for next February to pick up the game and explore every beautiful, polished corner of the City of Glass and get a better understanding of the story of Faith.