Despite the new name, Mirror's Edge Catalyst is a reboot of 2008 cult classic Mirror's Edge, rather than a sequel or simply another game set in the same universe. Thus, like the previous game, it's a parkour inspired first-person runner set in the dystopian city called Glass. You'll play as Faith - the same character from the first game. She's a runner, one of a group of couriers specialising in delivering not entirely legal goods, in a city that is controlled by a seemingly oppressive regime.
But this is no mere remake - it's a pretty big reboot that wholly reimagines the older game. While you may have good or bad memories of the previous game, it's obvious from the outset that Catalyst is a drastically different game. We played the Xbox One version of the game via EA Access to tell you what you need to know before you buy.
It looks inconsistent
Using the same tech that powers Battlefield and Need for Speed, you'd think that Catalyst would be quite the looker. And you'd be wrong. While it holds a steady frame rate, there's an abundance of jagged edges and low resolution textures. It's most inconsistent about character faces, as some look distinctively current generation while others look on par with what you'd expect from a game running Unreal Engine in 2001. The long loading times in excess of 20 seconds at times don't do it any favours either. Hopefully it looks better on the PS4 and PC.
The dialogue is cringe-worthy
While we're only a few hours in and aren't able to completely judge the game's plot, the dialogue seems like it was tacked on as an after thought. With cheesy lines and some distinctly unlikeable characters such as fellow runner Icarus, your foster father slash employer slash oddball love interest Noah, or the clingy Nomad, it's almost as annoying as 2015's Need for Speed if not more so. Keep your expectations suitably low or non-existent in this department.
Much like almost every big budget console and PC game this generation, Mirror's Edge Catalyst is an open-world game. You'll drop off items, best your parkour timings, and indulge in all sorts of side-quests that wouldn't be out of place in Far Cry or Assassin's Creed. When you consider how linear the original game was, this comes across a at least an attempt to instil a sense of variety. Unfortunately, it appears to be let down by a cookie-cutter approach, inline with what we've seen from Ubisoft of late.
You'll never get lost
One of the biggest complaints against the first Mirror's Edge was that navigating the game world was a painful affair. Now this is not the case with runner vision. It's what happens when turn by turn Google maps meet augmented reality, showing a path from one area to another without much fuss. For the most part it works as it should. But if you're using this, what's the point of having an open world? There are parts of the world you might never see, if you're using this mode.
Combat is a feasible option
This time around you won't simply just run and slide your way out of trouble, as hand to hand combat works and for most part is delightfully entertaining. With a simple combo system and slick traversal, you feel like you have a fighting chance against the game's many goons - armed or otherwise.
Our time with Mirror's Edge Catalyst proved to be a mixed bag, and it will be interesting to see how the full game shapes up. Look out for our full review sometime next week.