Mirror's Edge Catalyst Beta Preview, Performance, And Impressions

ME Catalyst Gameplay Impressions

The Mirror's Edge Catalyst beta told us much. Primarily, it’s clear how the developers are addressing the original’s shortcomings of brevity and gameplay attrition with the open environment.

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The general gameplay is mostly unchanged from the original. You again play as Faith Connors, parkour expert. You traverse the city using your slick moves which include vaulting, wall-running, sliding, rolling and zip-lining. Timing and environmental awareness are key to shaving off valuable seconds to quickly and most efficiently get from point to point.

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Core control of the character is fundamentally identical to the original game. Old players will feel right at home. Also, it feels intuitive for new players to quickly feel adept at something as dizzying as first-person parkour. Honestly the beta felt like an expansion to the original and not a full sequel. That’s good, as ME Catalyst solves many of the original's problems. For instance, the gun combat always seemed disjointed in the original, tacked-on and out of character for the parkour protagonist. Unlike the original, Faith cannot use guns in ME Catalyst. Instead the combat mechanics haven been overhauled to better make use of -- and mesh with Faith’s parkour skills. So, landing blows while dropping from extreme heights will add more damage, as do blows landed while on the move. Score one for momentum!

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To compensate for the lack of ballistic weapons we now have a new focus ability. Faith builds Focus by maintaining momentum, which allows her to then dodge bullets. The new combat also includes more targeted melee encounters and directional attacks, which do damage as well as offer better crowd control. You can now kick or punch enemies into each other or over railings, into hazards, off ledges and more. It all adds more gameplay variety and presents more challenge as you master the combat. It can be used to maintain momentum or to fully dispatch enemies. 

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Other new features include, a large map with a laundry list of points to reach or unlock, hopefully insuring a longer and more interesting adventure than the original. The world is also more open, with a variety of paths players can take to get to a given objective, thereby alleviating the trial-and-error monotony of the original. Additionally, Time Trials are getting a more dynamic overhaul. Players can now create their own time trials by simply marking beginning and ending points of their runs. Then save them them for friends to compete against.

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