Gaming

Take a leap of Faith in Mirror's Edge

The biggest addition to Catalyst is the mag rope, which Faith can throw out and use to swing across buildings or gaps like a superhero.
The biggest addition to Catalyst is the mag rope, which Faith can throw out and use to swing across buildings or gaps like a superhero.PHOTO: ELECTRONIC ARTS

Catalyst is now a totally different game and it has a brand-new storyline

When the first Mirror's Edge was released in 2008, the action game was not a blockbuster hit. But it nevertheless gained a cult following, thanks to its innovative take on the genre, whereby players zip around the rooftops of a dystopian city with cool parkour moves.

The same intense, high-rise action is back in Mirror's Edge: Catalyst. Only this time, the gameplay is noticeably more fluid, thrilling and intuitive.

A reboot of the original game, Catalyst places you in the cool red shoes of Faith, before the events of the first Mirror's Edge.

There are some callbacks to characters that fans of the first game will definitely notice, but Catalyst is a different game altogether, with a brand-new storyline and changes to Faith's origin story.

Faith is a Runner - an illegal delivery person whose services are sought by those who want to deliver packages without the knowledge of the corporate Conglomerate, which runs the city of Glass.

The game retains the thrill of zipping along the rooftops of a whitewashed, gleaming city. No rooftop, ledge, scaffolding or anything that looks scalable is off-limits for Faith, which makes the city a giant puzzle or playground for the player.

  • 7/10

  • RATING
     

    PRICE: $69.90 (PC, version tested), $79.90 (PlayStation 4), $79.90 (Xbox One)

    GENRE: First-person action

It might take a while to get used to the controls, especially when the high-octane action demands split-second reaction to run along a wall before jumping onto a ledge. Tap the button a second too late, and you end up as a splatter on the sidewalk.

The real fun of Catalyst began when the controls clicked and came naturally for me, a few hours into the game. I went from cautious runner to brazen daredevil, hopping and leaping across buildings with reckless abandon at an exhilarating pace.

The biggest addition to Catalyst is the mag rope, which Faith can throw out and use to swing across buildings or gaps like a superhero. This opens up far more options for travelling the game world.

Of course, there are baddies looking to break up your free-running fun. Combat in Catalyst can feel a little clunky at times, but this is somewhat redeemed by its integration into the polished parkour action.

By building up a "focus bar" through parkour stunts, Faith can run through and knock out the bad guys with just a single punch, making action more fluid and fast-paced.

Catalyst's storyline is a bit weak, with a generic "evil corporation wants to rule the masses" plotline and a few requisite twists thrown in.

Much of the joy of the game comes from exploring the open world of Glass, with lots of optional side missions to fulfil and opportunities to hit the ground running.

Carrying out more missions earns you more Scrip, the currency to purchase upgrades in the form of fancy new moves, or combat skills that give you more options with Faith.

But after several hours of flipping and jumping as a lone player, and having zipped through most of the open world, things started to feel cold and stagnant.

The game world is also too sparsely populated, making the city feel too lifeless and uninteresting the more you traverse it.

I guess absolute freedom is still constrained by level design and character mechanics.

•Verdict: Mirror's Edge: Catalyst takes the parkour action of the original to new heights which fans will want to re-experience.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2016, with the headline 'Take a leap of Faith in Mirror's Edge'. Print Edition | Subscribe