A Look At the Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Beta

A Look At the Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Beta

At some point in time, I registered for the closed beta for EA’s upcoming Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and then promptly forgot about it. Therefore I was surprised to find my access code in my email last Friday morning. After entering that code Saturday morning (okay, afternoon) with my cup of coffee, my weekend disappeared.

After playing the first Mirror’s Edge last summer, I was salivating for a sequel. It was hard to imagine having to wait nearly a decade for any new parkour endeavors. The first game only dipped its shock-conducing tennis shoe soles into its dystopian world and felt more like an experiment than a full-fledged idea. With nine years to ruminate and rethink Catalyst is everything I wanted from the inaugural title—at least from what I could tell from the beta.

The beta had the first four main missions and any available side missions, upgrades, and collectibles. It’s clear from the start that Catalyst suffers from the early stages of today’s open-world epidemic. While Mirror’s Edge had linear chapters with a few collectibles in each, Catalyst has a map filled with markers for delivery missions, player-created time trials, and runner bags filled with graffiti decals. Fortunately I’m not sick of open-world games, but if you are, you’ve been warned.

The game opens with Faith’s release from a juvenile detention center run by KrugerSec, a fairly in media res start for a long-awaited sequel. So far there’s no mention of Kate or the dramatic rooftop ending to the first game. After getting her GPS monitor for her parole, Faith gets pulled away by her old runner gang, reinstating her fugitives status only three minutes into her lawful freedom. Now she’s back to running missions to earn scrip and pay back her debts to Dogen.

The three biggest changes in Catalyst are the structure, and the addition of an upgrade tree, and the combat system. Instead of completing each chapter in order, you can complete the main missions at your own pace, choosing to freelance and run deliveries or hack security systems instead. You won’t want to get too far off track because while you earn experience with everything you do, your available upgrades only grow as you progress through the main campaign.

The upgrade tree consists of three categories: movement, combat, and gear. While the latter two are straightforward, the movement tree is frustrating. Most of the options were moves that were available at the start of the first game—rolling, quick turning, and lifting your legs to gain speed. From what I could tell, you unlock these early on, but nothing is earlier than usable in the tutorial.

As for the performance, it ran moderately well on my mid-range PC when I put the settings on low. The main issue I had was a slowdown whenever I started running. In general it was tolerable, but it made some of the more difficult timed delivery missions impossible. Why does the timer start while the environment is still loading in?

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst releases next month, and I can’t wait. To enjoy it fully, definitely make sure our computer can handle it. Platforming takes precision, and that’s hard to do when you fall off the building before the game registers you hit jump.

…or maybe that’s just me.

Stay tuned.

I Feel Like Falling: Mirror’s Edge Review

I Feel Like Falling: Mirror’s Edge Review

There are many reasons first-person platformers are not commonplace–depth perception, mobility, and, most importantly, controls. Mirror’s Edge does everything it can to make the formula work.

Mirror’s Edge tells a story of a world where runners–basically professional parkour enthusiasts–fight against monster-like capitalists. At least that’s what I got from the story. The game was on the shorter side for its big world, so what shone instead of the details were the characters’ relationships. At the center, yo have Faith, a runner, whose only family is her sister Kate, a cop. Without spoiling anything, this dynamic–each other’s everything  on opposite sides of a polarized world–is the meat of the sandwich…Eh, not my best metaphor, but it works.

As for the landscape of the city, I only understand that the Big Bad was the Big Bad because the game said the people in blue were bad. I’m excited for the sequel so that I can learn more about this world. The little information I was given piqued my interest in a way this title never satisfied. I want to feel and understand the political and moral motivation as clearly as I did the familial ones.

Now this game’s mechanics were solid for such an experimental IP. If you play can play with keyboard and mouse, do. The only limitation is the constant need for precise controls of both Faith and the camera. Not only do your jumps need great timing, but so does the direction in which you’re looking. “Runner vision” highlights usable objects and ledges, helping you always know your intended path in this fast-paced game. Sometimes you must run and think about where you’re going later. When leaping towards the side of a building, you have to make sure you point the camera above your intended landing spot, or you will fall short and be treated to the sound of your legs breaking against asphalt below.

In case you haven’t kept up over the months, I obviously loved this gameplay. I wish I could fly across buildings like a cross between a spy and a superhero. Though the controls take some adjusting, the tutorial explains everything and provides the perfect playground on which to practice. You don’t have to leave until you want to, letting you hone your skills before starting the campaign.

As for the graphics, they are still gorgeous years later. The stark colors are still novel with the lands of gray and brown EA normally deal in (ignoring Plants vs. Zombies and Peggle, of course), and it could easily have been made today. One hint though–don’t bother with the PhysX settings. Its incompatibility with my graphics card caused the game to drop to a record low one FPS.

Overall, I adore this title and can’t wait for Catalyst. This too short for its own good title left me unprepared for the credits. Maybe it was too short, or maybe I’m just selfish. Either way, this long awaited –and even longer only rumored–can’t come quick enough.