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Beta impressions: Mirror’s edge catalyst

By the grace of Odin I finally got some hands on time with mirror’s edge catalyst, and the time has come to let you all know what I think of it.

First off, as this is a thing that I tend to do a lot when talking about a game, I’ll tell you what history I have with the franchise so you can decide for yourself how this may differ my opinion from yours. I personally loved the original mirror’s edge game, I’ve clocked in countless hours on ps, basically until the cd broke, and played through the campaign 2 or 3 times on pc. I won’t deny that I’ve had some problems tempering  my enthusiasm to play for the game in order to let me see some of the negatives as well. But now we got that out of the way let’s talk about the actual game shall we?

The game starts you of as you are released from prison, and immediately tries to drive home this feeling of a living in a corporate dystopia, which does it fairly well. Although I got to say, in doing this it doesn’t appear to have tried very hard to avoid any cliché’s along the way. You play as a somewhat arrogant and bull-headed runner, guards are dicks, tons of police brutality, voice com messages telling you how to behave, etc. At the same time however, this also ads some odd charm to the game, as it doesn’t try to pretend it’s fantastic great novel or anything like that.

So immediately upon being released your approached by a runner named Icarus, we “cuts you off from the grid”, which is something they never really properly explain, causing you to get chased by law enforcement right of the bat, leading you into the parkour system. The parkour seems to have been improved quit a lot. Controls are more intuitive, and give you a bigger degree of control over your moves then you had in the first game. Falling also seems to be less depending on the fairly disorientating parkour roll from the first game, instead we get to use the slap landing more often, which also makes more sense in a realistic way.

In this first sequence they also introduce runners vision. This is kind of your runner’s gps system in the game, and helps a lot in keeping your momentum up. Some will argue this is “a stupid easy mode feature” so no worries, you can just turn it off again in the options menu. This feature however is very helpful in navigating because as most of you will now already, the game is a lot more open than the first one. You get to explore quit a lot of the city, and I really enjoyed doing so. You also got quite a lot of time challenges which will have you competing in races from point A to B in order to get a faster time then other players and having something to occasionally point you in the right direction is fairly helpful.

Then there is the combat, for most people, including me, this was one of the original game’s most irritating features. Truth be told it’s still nowhere near as fun as the parkour but they seem to have done a lot of improving on it. You can kick opponents from different angles causing them to fly into different objects, or each other. You can attack from wall runs, high jumps, springboards, … Otherwise you have your light attacks, which you use to attack an opponent while running without losing momentum, which makes for a couple of movie like sequences. But there is no denying that the combat is still the games weakness. While it is more fun than it used to be, it’s just not up to par with the running system.

Since the game is a prequel to the original game we’re playing as a younger faith. She’s definitely more reckless than in the first game, and it seems we’re going to get to see some more of her origin story, complete with flash back sequences and all that. The rest of the characters don’t seem all that interesting. You got your father figure Noah, your generic good looking male who doesn’t like you one bit and will predictably open up to you as you progress through the game Icarus. Then there is the graffiti guy nomad, who’s also your best friend and you both have a grudge against some major corporation. Like I said they really aren’t trying to avoid any cliché’s whatsoever.

Since it’s a DICE game I actually expected a bit more graphically, although I will admit that I had the game running on mid graphics as my pc just isn’t all that great. However some character models definitely look inferior to others, this is mostly the case for the random npc’s you come across on the rooftops. But it also has to be said that the game really nails it’s artistic direction. I never found myself questioning my environment, although it’s clearly set way ahead in the future, everything seems tied together in a way that makes a lot of sense to the player.

A couple of other things it would like to say about the game. I’m kind of disappointed that it seems like we’re not getting to see the ground level of glass. I would have loved to be chased by cops and just trying to lose tem in the crowd, or just see more of this oppressive authority, as we only get to see once how a man is being bullied by the cops, but everything else is just people saying the government is oppressive and you should just go along with that. Obviously I haven’t seen a whole lot of either the story, or the city, as the entire beta was set in one district so maybe these issues will be addressed later on in the game.

For those who wonder how the game runs, I usually had a framerate of around 30, that is with fraps running in the background. Again, my laptop isn’t all that great so maybe some people got it a lot higher than I did, or maybe the framerate is locked, I can’t tell for sure. Otherwise I’ve seen a couple of bugs and 2 or 3 crashes, but I haven’t experienced any problems that could ruin the experience for me. But do take into account that this is the closed beta, so this not necessarily a good representation of its launch as certain things may break own under launch day stress.

All in all, mirror’s edge catalyst is a great game, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m very excited for its release. If you’re looking for a great story, you may not get it, but if you’re looking for a fun experience with tons of first person parkour, than this may be the game or you.

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