Mirror’s Edge Catalyst PC Review

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I recently posted an article related to the first Mirror’s Edge game, mentioning this reboot as an upcoming release. Today I want to properly describe and analyze it, since I received a copy as an early birthday present and finished the main story two days ago. Here you are my complete Mirror’s Edge Catalyst PC Review, spoiler-free.

Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst is available for Xbox One, PS4 and PC since June 7th in North America and June 9th in Europe, created and developed by EA Dice.

The story begins with a young Runner, Faith Connors, waking up in a technological prison belonging to a company named Kruger Security (K-Sec). After two long years Faith is finally free to run again although monitored by the latter through a special bracelet (GridLink). If she doesn’t find a job within 14 days she will be captured once more and transferred into another facility, but the sudden meeting with Icarus (a fellow Runner) a few steps from the K-Sec quarters leads her out of sight and back to the place she truly belongs.
Reunited with her friends and the Runner cabal leader Noah, Faith is already in action facing new troubles involving the CEO Gabriel Kruger and stealing important informations which will put her own life at risk in different occasions.

Note: Faith has been cut off from any Runner activity due to her imprisonment. The first game started with the girl back on the field after an injury that kept her away for some time as well.

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Faith Connors is the same protagonist we met in her first game in 2008, but with a new appearance (though very similar) and an altered backstory. Years before the events of Catalyst, Faith’s family was killed during the November Riots against the ruling corporations, with her parents shot dead and her sister Cat (Kate in Mirror’s Edge) apparently suffocating from a gas grenade tossed into a vent, through which the girls were trying to escape. Noah took the little girl under his wing and raised her himself.

In Mirror’s Edge Faith has two iconic tattos: one under her right eye (also the video game logo) and an intricated design over her right arm. In Catalyst they kept them both, the only difference is the arm tattoo represented by a framed inked drawing from her mother. Faith will print it on her arm only once the main events are over.

One of the new things they added in Catalyst is the common Skills System. When you start playing, Faith can run and climb normally like she does in the original game, but this time you’ll have to improve her Runner abilities and unlock new upgrades and gears. You get a skill point after every main mission, but you can also level up much faster playing as many side quests as you can.

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Another interesting addition is the Mag (Manifold Attachment Gear) Rope attached to her glove; once you get it Faith can traverse the city taking shorter routes and going higher avoiding a long climbing, or ‘flying’ over huge gaps she normally couldn’t face without dying. The rope only works with surveillance cameras and other specific points on the map, upgrades improve this gear adding a hook at the end of the rope in order to grab and pull obstacles that would block her way otherwise.

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One of the things I liked about this game is the unmistakable style they copied from Mirror’s Edge, with the same bright yellow, soft white, intense blue and occasionally strong red and green. Cranes, high buildings, glass surfaces, pipes… they didn’t change a single thing in these environments and I honestly couldn’t be happier about such a perfect choice. The current technology also made everything look a lot better with high quality reflections and effects, and the surroundings were already quite breathtaking in 2008. The new setting is called City of Glass, while in Mirror’s Edge they never truly mentioned the name.

Follow the red

If you played the first Mirror’s Edge you are well aware of the red path, or ‘Runner’s vision’ you could follow when you didin’t really know which route to take. Certainly useful, but in my opinion it wasn’t really well made due to the many structures and buildings around litterally hiding that red door you needed to open or that required trampoline for a high jump. Sometimes I found myself running around in circles trying to escape from the well armed cops chasing me and I couldn’t properly find my red path. In Catalyst they finally did it in a more intelligent way, adding a red trail that you can follow in front of you and activate again with the Alt key if you miss it. The trail is generated by Faith’s Echo, a virtual ‘ghost’ with her resemblance. If you collect the many Runner’s kits around the map you can customize the Echo with different appearances.

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They also got rid of the 2D cutscenes using HQ CGI movies instead.

You still play in first person although sometimes you get a third person point of view during combats. These screenshots were made using the free camera mode for artistic purposes.

Main Runners and NPCs

3c43575d49ed960bbe1cbb584d584b64Noah Kekai: He is the leader of a Runner cabal, and Faith Connors’s adoptive father. He was a friend of Martin and Erika Connors and the one who saved Faith and took her in following the November Riots after Cat’s apparent death. Raising Faith on rooftops far above the city, he unintentionally inspired her to become a Runner.

Noah seems to be quite similar to another character from Mirror’s Edge; Mercury, known as Merc. He was a former Runner who then started operating as a tracker and training some of the best Runners in the field. He took Faith in one night when she entered his lair as a young and desperate thief, then trained her and guided her through the whole Mirror’s Edge game. Unfortunately Merc was shot and killed while Faith was returning from another mission, leaving the girl on her own.

IcarusrenderIcarus: He is counted among the very best, second only to Faith Connors. Noah took him into the cabal while Faith was in prison and the two have developed a close bond. Like Faith, Icarus runs mainly for the thrill of it, and every day he revels in this life which is very different than the one originally staked out for him. But unlike her, he is not very impulsive, and his skill comes from careful calculation rather than brash risk-taking. He detests being compared to the girl, and he decided long ago to not let her tarnish his reputation once she was let out of juvie.
The relationship between Faith and Icarus is very tense due to the guy’s jealousy, probably considering Noah a sort of father figure himself. His distrust completely melts down after a very important event throughout the story and the two eventually become close friends helping each other during the conflict with Kruger and his security guards.

Icarus may be the alternate version of Jacknife from Mirror’s Edge (with a different personality), ex Runner and main antagonist in the original story.

His name is also already known from the Project Icarus (program made specifically to take Runners down) in Mirror’s Edge.

per-haagensen-rebecca-02Rebecca Thane: After losing many friends in the November Riots Rebecca became a woman driven purely by revenge. Always prone to rash decisions she had advocated early on that the protest movement should employ violent means against the government and the corporations. In this she was opposed by the other movement leaders, Noah Kekai and Faith’s parents especially, and during those early days her calls for decisive action went unheeded. But then the Connors were killed during the riots, Noah took to the rooftops and only Rebecca was left to lead the remains of those protesting against the authorities. She has since formed Black November, an organization dedicated to bringing down the Conglomerate using any and all means available.

 

NomadNomad: He is no Runner and doesn’t know when he was born, nor does he care. He has concocted a story for himself that his dad left before he was born and that his mother, of whom he has no recollection, took care of him alone during his toddler years but was then killed in the November Riots. He has vague memories of other adults, of running away and being brought back, but whether by the authorities or someone else he can’t recall. All he knows that by the time he saw other kids going to school he was already living on the street. An avid graffiti artist, Nomad’s profound hatred of the Conglomerate form a common theme for his works. In addition to his painting he has also found a way to hack into and subvert the giant advertisement projections to show the true nature of the Conglomerate , but for these endeavours he usually needs Faith’s help (who he met ten years ago and more or less adopted her to be the big sister he never had).

plasticPlastic: The identity of Plastic, the finest coder in Glass, is initially a mystery to Faith. All she knows is that this off-Grid, technical mastermind could be a powerful ally to the Runners. Plastic may not be the most sociable individual around and prefers to live and communicate through The Beat. Taking on only the hardest tech assignments available, Plastic’s usual fee is high enough to make even some Corporate Houses think twice before a consultation.

Plastic invented Kuma, an ambitious pet robot with an evolving AI core.

 

 

 

per-haagensen-cat-conceptIsabel Kruger: She is first seen accompanying Gabriel Kruger during his visit to Elysium Labs. She subdues an OmniStat agent who infiltrated the labs, but the agent dies from cyanide poisoning. Faith appears out of hiding, steals the agent’s drive, and Isabel briefly chases after her before Faith blocks her way with a door. She suffers from a chronic lung disease that was kept in check by Reflection until Faith destroyed it.
As her name suggests, Isabel appears to be Gabriel Kruger’s daughter, but she may actually be way more.

 

 

dogenDogen: The man is the crime czar of Glass and his real name and murky origins are known only to himself. He specializes in black market goods and contraband and his customers are found among the high and low. His network is extensive, especially among the more corrupt elements of the Conglomerate, and many a security officer has at one time or another found herself indebted to Dogen.

 

 

 

 

krugerGabriel Kruger: He is the CEO of KrugerSec, direct descendant of Dieter Kruger and Isabel’s father. Even though Gabriel Kruger has inherited his ancestor Dieter Kruger’s zeal and vast intellectual capacity it hasn’t come with the basic faith in humanity that Dieter exhibited. Gabriel is convinced that what he’s doing is for the best of the Conglomerate, Cascadia and its inhabitants, and he is well aware that some hard sacrifices are needed to ensure that the Conglomerate rules supreme, and that House Kruger rules the Conglomerate.

Kruger’s name appeared in the original game as well as Pirandello Kruger, private security corporation that we visited in Chapter 6. Pirandello also exists in Catalyst, but we never directly faced Gabriel before.

 

3c43575d49ed960bbe1cbb584d584b64Aline Maera: From an early age she was engrossed in books and experiments, mainly related to human-machine interfaces and the merging of the digital and the biological. As she grew older she found employment with Elysium Corp, already then a premiere biotech and pharmaceutical company, and soon enough she came to head up her own division. Over the years Aline would rise to assume a prominent director position within the Reflection project. Her area of focus concerned how the nanites could monitor and improve the health of the host, and for a long time she convinced herself that the Reflection would only ever have positive benefits. But as her seniority grew she got more glimpses into other parts of the project, and those prompted her to start asking questions about the true purpose of the technology.

 

CelesteCeleste: She was one of the main characters in Mirror’s Edge and although she doesn’t appear in Catalyst she is mentioned as a Runner who left the City of Glass. However, Celeste does appear in the comic Mirror’s Edge: Exordium, prequel of Catalyst.

Faith makes a deal with Dogen and accepts to steal some medicine in exchange to her mother’s drawing, without knowing Celeste herself stole it to cure her sister from cancer. Faith initially manages to steal the vaccine, but overridden with guilt she decides to help Celeste and cover her escape distracting the K-Sec guards. They eventually catch her and bring her to jail where Catalyst begins.

 

 

Concept arts belong to EA Dice, part of these detailed descriptions can be found on the official Mirror’s Edge Catalyst site and on the Wiki.

 

Side missions

There is not a great variety, but clearing the map from all those icons will definitely take you some time. You get a bunch of timed missions, billboards to hack, deliveries, server nodes to unlock and some minor quests for secondary characters.

List of timed missions:

• Fragile Delivery: Take a package from your client and bring it to another person in time without breaking it.
• Diversion missions: Distract the K-Sec guards while your fellow Runners carry out their deliveries without being noticed.
• Covert missions: Deliver the package in time without being noticed by K-Sec guards.
• Plastic’s side missions: Collect the red nodes for Plastic in time.
• Dashes: Reach the finishing point as fast as you can setting your personal score and comparing it with other players’ (works online)
• Time trials: Follow your Echo and touch the virtual rings reaching the finishing line in the shortest time possible.

Combat

If in Mirror’s Edge you were used to disarm your opponents and steal their weapons (guns and rifles) to defend yourself where the physical approach couldn’t work, in Catalyst you no longer have this option. You can, however, directly punch and kick the guards even if they are shooting at you. The reason why the guns have been removed seems to be related to the original nature of the game. Runners are known for their parkour abilities, thus a face to face fight is more appropriate.

You meet different types of enemies:

Guardians: They are probably the weakest opponents and can be defeated with a few punches.
Protectors: A bit stronger than Guardians since they can hit you with a stick, but not particularly hard to take down either.
Enforcers: They can be dangerous because of the shotgun they carry. Their health is more resistant, but they just fall down like a bag of potatoes if you slide and hit their legs. Alternatively you can still punch them as hard as you can, also using the Shift ability that you can unlock at some point.
Shock Protectors: Here comes the hard part. These guys are very strong and you will hardly beat them if you attack directly from the front. The best way to get rid of them is shifting away and punch or kick them from the back. If you’ve unlocked Stun Advantage, you can take advantage (you don’t say) of a stunned or stumbling Shock Protector by shifting in close and delivering a few quick punches before breaking away to rebuild your speed and keep out of range.
Sentinels: The strongest enemies for sure, they are fast and quick to deliver punishment. They can knock you off your feet with a simple blow and for this reason you can only shift away and side kick or switch place (another combat upgrade) to punch them in the back.

Note: The Sentinels remind me a lot of the Pursuit cops (part of the Project Icarus) from the original game due to their speed and strength.

In Catalyst they introduced the health bar connected to Faith’s Focus level; if full (you can fill it by running without a stop along roofs, walls and obstacles) Faith will be able to push her opponents away and protect herself from gunshots and physical damage.

Soundtrack

Mirror’s Edge is well known among gamers for its wonderful OST Still Alive by Lisa Miskovsky. Although the new one is probably not as good (imo) I still like the tune they created for Catalyst:

Interesting fact: In the main Runner’s lair you can find a jukebox containing not only this theme, but also some BGM from the first Mirror’s Edge.

The good and the bad

We got a bunch of incredible stuff in this reboot, but there also are a few things that left me a bit disappointed.

Pros:

1) Beautiful sceneries, as explained above.
2) Nice gameplay. As I already said many times I am a hardcore Assassin Creed fan and thus I really enjoy the free roaming in games, especially if it involves climbing and high jumps.
3) The story is not particularly long, but very interesting and captivating despite the changes they made. A bit too rushed in some parts maybe, but I’m not complaining at all because I enjoyed it nonetheless.
4) The red trail/Echo
5) The overall character design
6) It’s finally open world, which means you get more stuff to do instead of finishing everything in less than a week.
7) It brings you back where you left. If you accidentally make a wrong move and die the game will reload that very last point most of the time, preventing you from running and climbing along the same path all over again. In Mirror’s Edge the autosaves where not so frequent and you were forced to restart what you hardly managed to surpass.
8) Leveling up is quick enough.

Cons:

1) Challenging games are good, but in my honest opinion there is a limit. Mirror’s Edge has always been anything but an easy game, since the very beginning you may struggle and end up frustrated if you’re not ‘skilled’ enough to play it. Catalyst is better in this sense, but still has some very difficult stuff that you can’t properly figure out unless you spend a few hours in a specific area to discover the correct route to pick.
2) Keys may not respond. I had a feeling while playing that sometimes my keyboard was not working properly. While it is true that timing is everything (if you jump too late or don’t run enough to gain speed you will fail even what looks like a very simple jump), to me it seemed like the selected action couldn’t be activated. Not sure if this is a glitch or if it works better with a controller.
3) Timed missions. The majority of side quests involve fast running with a timer and no matter how hard you try some of them seem truly impossible. The time is terribly limited, K-Sec guards pop up randomly on the map making things even harder especially if they appear exactly on your way to the finishing line. The red trail in this case may lead you on longer paths, so it’s up to you to find the shortest one. It means you have to forget about the timer and study your surroundings. It means you have to start that mission over and over again until you finally, maybe, find out where to go to finish in time. Then you may take a wrong turn, lose precious seconds and restart the mission, then the K-Sec guards respawn randomly in front of you, hit you and make you fail again. And it keeps going.
Another downside is that the majority of these missions requires skills that you probably don’t have yet, but nobody tells you how it works and you waste your time trying and trying without figuring out what you’re doing wrong. For example, some timed deliveries can be done only if you get the Mag Rope.
4) This is not really a big deal, but a couple of times I got a bad glitch where the environment didn’t load completely causing an instant death. They already released two PC patches though and for now the issue seems to be gone.

Conclusion

Would I recomment this game? Absolutely yes, especially if you love the gameplay style and already have the first Mirror’s Edge.
Storywise it’s great, I found it even better than the first one ’cause it felt deeper and more dynamic. The fact we have more characters is certainly a positive thing, it adds good content and interactions.

Is the plot similar to the original? There are a few similarities, but it isn’t the same at all. If you want to play Catalyst please think about it as an alternative, more futuristic universe.

Furthermore, you should take in mind that this game requires a powerful hardware. MEC has Hyper settings which are even higher than the standard Ultra graphics and if I set everything to the maximum my game stutters and becomes way slower. I can hardly go beyond Ultra for the environments and general effects, but the quality (as you can see from the images posted) doesn’t look that different.

Minimum requirements:

Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti 2GB or better / AMD Radeon R9 270x or better
Intel i3-3250 / AMD FX-6350
RAM 6 GB
Windows 7 64-Bit (use the latest Service Pack)
25 GB of free space on your HDD

Recommended requirements:

Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB or better / AMD Radeon R9 280x 3GB or better
Intel Core i7-3770 at 3.4 GHz / AMD FX-8350 at 4.0 GHz
RAM 16 GB
Windows 10 64-Bit (use the latest Service Pack)
25 GB of free space on your HDD

A new patch has been released on June 27th to also fix issues related to low end dual core hyper threading CPUs. You can read the full list of solved problems here.
The first patch released made the anti-aliasing better for me and it got rid of some dropped frames I was experiencing even lowering the video settings.

You can get Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst on Origin or purchase the retail copy on Amazon with a nice discount.

You may be interested in this nice Mirror’s Edge Xbox One controller too!

Note: If you want to play the main missions again you can do that through the world map menu. However the cutscenes will not play a second time. If you want to start over and create a new game, that will reset your savefile completely only keeping your achievements and such. It is highly recommented to make a copy of your current saves in Documents\Mirrors Edge Catalyst\settings in case you want to restore your previous playthrough.

UPDATE 9/25: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst now has modding support!

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