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Ready to run? Mirror’s Edge Catalyst [official site] may have ditched the guns in favour of momentum-based melee combat but despite shedding that deadweight, it’s still not going to reach the finishing line as planned. Last night design director Erik Odeldahl announced that the first-person free-running sequel has been pushed back from its May 24th release date to early June. The 7th for North America and the 9th for Europe (and presumably the rest of the world).
If there is one complaint I have about the original Mirror’s Edge, aside from the “combat is terrible” refrain, is that I’d have liked to see the city explored more, almost as a character of its own. The story is set in an authoritarian dystopia, but we don’t actually get to see much of it outside of the first cutscene of the game. There is a lot of promising worldbuilding hinted at throughout the levels, but it’s not nearly as developed as it could have been.
So this new page that just appeared on Mirror’s Edge Catalyst‘s website, detailing the city’s districts and factions, with wonderful pictures, is getting my hopes up. I know I shouldn’t, I know it’s against my better judgement and I’ll be sorely disappointed, so help me out here. Let’s keep the hype to a minimum and let’s all look at the negatives. Here’s a great start: the city is called “Glass.”
There must be a special modder gene that compels them to rebuild famous gaming locations using tools that were never designed for the task. Modder SuX Lolz is clearly too hard on himself, because he's done a spectacular job of shoehorning an interpretation of Mirror's Edge's prologue into a Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Deathrun map. Here's the original for comparison.
Some of the grime and fine detail is absent, sure, but the palette and stark lines of the city is dead on. The preview went live in late February, and I'm struggling to grasp how such a massive project has only just surfaced, but here in is now—soak it in. Maybe file a bookmark too, because it's not quite done: Lolz plans to add a number of secrets to the map and is contemplating bringing it to Black Ops 3 should modding tools ever surface.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst [official site] looks prettier every time I see it. The latest trailers to emerge for the ultra-stylish parkour-a-thon series reboot cast their focus on movement and combat, and showcase the many ways in which protagonist Faith Connors will run and jump and leap and bound and punch and… maybe you’re best having a look for yourself.
If you had Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst [official site] in the Big Game Delay Sweepstakes, step up to the podium and claim your prize. Previously set for release on February 23rd, the same day as Far Cry Primal and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the continuing adventures of Faith have been pushed back to May. DICE are still sticking to a specific release date – May 24th – and say that the delay is down to their desire to make the game “as entertaining, impressive, and memorable as it can be”.
I wouldn’t count myself as a fan of many things, but the derision and disinterest inspired by the first Mirror’s Edge makes me want to champion it. It was a game with terrible boss fights, flawed combat and a tedious story, but also one worth celebrating for the things it got right, such as its first-person movement and its beautiful, brilliant world.
Those same things also make me nervous about the sequel. When I went to see EA’s Mirror’s Edge Catalyst [official site] presentation at Gamescom, I wasn’t sure whether it would amplify the parts I liked or disliked.
I completed Mirror s Edge four times, so I know the first person parkour- em-up stupidly well. To me, Catalyst feels almost exactly like the Mirror s Edge of 2008 in all the right ways. The platforming feels identical minus a couple of button press changes that only super hardcore players will notice, and my same muscle memory and sense of timing served me well during my hands-on at E3. For those worried that Catalyst might lose the very specific essence of the original, this doesn t feel like a reboot—it feels like a true sequel.
My demo took place in a tiny snippet of what is apparently a seamless open world in Catalyst, a series of rooftops with three tasks to perform: a time attack run (Race), a chain of combat encounters (Delivery) and a challenge to climb to a high point in the world and hack a propaganda billboard (er, Billboard Hack). My main reaction to the demo was delight at how it felt to finally have more Mirror s Edge in my hands, after seven years of championing the game to any poor bastard that will listen. There s been six Call of Duty games since the first one came out—that Catalyst exists in a landscape of absurdly expensive triple-A games is a bit uplifting to me. Even better, what made the original Mirror s Edge so special is seemingly still intact here.
What this 13-minute demo didn t do was outline how open world play will work, since this area of shiny rooftops was boxed off and honestly felt like it could be a level from the first Mirror s Edge. This setting will start small then open up, but how big does it really go? The map screen in the menu suggests a huge open city, but the demo doesn t answer the question of how that ll feel to the player to travel from one place to another.
Greater changes come in the form of the combat, which was divisive the first time around, but has been overhauled so it s noticeably easier. While it seemed a little too simple to me on first inspection, it might suit players who found the original s fighting too challenging or fiddly. Attacks are now mapped to the x button on an Xbox controller, rather than the trigger (this is now just the barge button for opening doors), and as long as you hit the button in close proximity to an enemy, Faith will quickly take them out, sometimes with a pleasing third-person finishing animation.
The demo didn t really have enough combat to make a call on it either way. Combat presented no immediate threat, and with no guns for faith to pick up, DICE clearly gave this a little more thought than the platforming. What s obviously different is that you can pretty much fight while still running, whereas Mirror s Edge sometimes required more of a duelling mentality, where you had to circle around cover and ambush enemies, distracting from the pace of level. Maybe a complex fighting system just isn t that important to Mirror s Edge—I ll need more time with Catalyst to be convinced by this change.
Mirror s Edge was well worth reviving, and this demo tells me that Catalyst will look and feel familiar to the game s existing audience. DICE should now focus on showing players how the open world really adds to that.
Catalyst, noun: A person or thing that precipitates an event; "She acted as a catalyst for change." Or, a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change. Also, the subtitle (or something) of the next Mirror's Edge.
The truth is that we don't know how Catalyst relates to Mirror's Edge, but one way or another, it quite clearly does. IGN pointed out earlier today that EA has filed a trademark, viewable here, for "Mirror's Edge Catalyst," which covers "computer game software; downloadable computer game software via a global computer network and wireless devices; video game software," as well as "entertainment services, namely, providing an on-line computer game."
That in itself doesn't mean much; companies file and fight over trademarks all the time, and sometimes the filings are actually fakes intended to stir up excitement (and then anger) amongst the fan base. But shortly after the report of the trademark filing came to light, the image above hit the official Mirror's Edge Twitter feed, making it clear that Catalyst is both real and relevant.
There were suggestions, prior to the "Catalyst" tweet, that the trademark filing could be unrelated to Mirror's Edge 2, and may perhaps be for something like a mobile game tie-in instead. But for EA to use it for the first tweet out of the Mirror's Edge account since January, and only the second of 2015, makes me think that it has to be the real deal.
As always, we've reached out EA for more information and will update if and when we receive a reply. But with E3 just around the corner, I think there's a good chance we'll just have to wait.
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>
Some people install the latest Crysis game whenever they buy a new PC, to push their upgraded hardware to its limit. I install Mirror’s Edge. If I want to feel good about my purchase, then Mirror’s Edge succeeds by being as unfailingly gorgeous now as it was six years ago. Better still, its mechanics – about movement and speed and grace – leave me just as breathless and uplifted as its pristine cityscapes and colourful interior design.