Mirror’s Edge Catalyst – exhilarating, beautiful and flawed

When the original Mirror’s Edge came out in 2008, the game’s clean visual treatment and parkour free-running gameplay was a breath of fresh air. While there were some issues with the controls, it rightly became a cult classic. The new sequel Catalyst offers a graphical upgrade and a more detailed story, but also manages to retain some of the problems of its predecessor.

You play as Faith. Just out of jail there’s little time to catch up with old friends before you’re thrust back into the life of a ‘Runner’. This mostly involves carrying packages from one place to another by leaping across the city until Kruger Holding, a powerful company that rules the city of Glass, turns its attention to the underground actions of the runners.

Glass, the city where you free-run is stunning. The clear blue skies and gleaming black and white skyscrapers with splashes of bright, primary colours look like a futuristic dream. However, it doesn’t take long before the rotten core of this dystopian city soon becomes evident. After your character comes into possession of some important data, Kruger Holding will stop at nothing to catch Faith, leading your character to make sketchy deals with the devil to stay both free and alive.

Getting around the open-world city is where Mirror’s Edge really comes into its own. The simple two button parkour controls alongside a navigation system that makes your route glow red means you can make death-defying leaps, run across walls and slide under obstacles with a beautiful fluidity. When up high, this is stunning. Running through buildings or under the city also works, but it doesn’t have the same heart-pumping moments or feeling of freedom as when running across the high-rise landscape.

Unfortunately, there are some issues. The guidance system can sometimes stop working meaning you have to meander about to try to work out where to go next. It normally kicks back in after a moment, but it can ruin the flow of your run. More crucially, like its predecessor, the fighting sucks. Enemies can be taken down quickly and satisfyingly mid-run, but when you are put into a forced fight situation that you can’t run from, the scuffles become extremely frustrating. Dodging and attacking feels clumsy and enemies take forever to dispatch.

While some will feel these problems are deal-breakers, many (this reviewer included) will likely feel that the brilliant free-running experience more than compensates for Mirror’s Edge’s shortcomings and makes this a title that is still well worth visiting. As long as you don’t suffer from vertigo, that is.

Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
£42-£45 (16+)