I played the Catalyst Beta, and I’m so glad I pre-ordered the collector’s edition #mirrorsedgecatalyst @mirrorsedge

I was one of those lucky people granted access to the Mirror’s Edge Catalyst beta, which I signed up for pretty much the minute I heard about it. As a runner myself, I loved the crap out of the first game, and played it way, way more times than I probably should’ve.

Now, as someone who’s played the beta and has a reasonable grasp on what Catalyst will be like, I can make a few snap judgements reasonable assessments on the final product. Maybe you’re here because you want to know about the game, or maybe you’re here because you absolutely love my blog. Probably the former, but hey, give me a shout if you’re just that into what I’ve got to say.

So, what are my thoughts on Catalyst?

1) The skill tree makes perfect sense

Mirror’s Edge was about a skilled, seasoned veteran Runner fleeing for her life in the face of a totalitarian, militarized government trying to kill her. Catalyst is about a spunky early-20s (if that) woman who recently spent two years in jail and, though good, isn’t nearly a legend among the other Runners.

I’ve seen some griping about how you can’t skill roll or do a quick turn at the beginning of the game, but I didn’t see a gym yard in Faith’s prison. No matter how much stretching or how many lunges you do, you’re not going to keep in top Runner form after spending that long in a jail cell. Giving us a way to watch her grow–and giving us control over her growth, much like how a real person prioritizes, say, movement over combat–was a great decision.

2) Holy Crap Sack, Batman, Look at those Graphics!

My jaw literally dropped when I saw Faith step outside into the halogen glare of street lights on a rainy night, and my eyes watered with awe when the camera panned up over Glass to show off the Catalyst title art and the city skyline at dawn. It’s art in motion, and beautiful even during a speed blur.

3) Combat is way more intuitive

The combat is designed to work with your speed and your controls. In addition to Traversal Attacks, which are only available while sprinting, and allow you to stun an enemy and keep running full-speed, Faith can do direction moves, knocking enemies into each other.

You know what I did the first time I freely (outside tutorial) fought some security officers? I delivered a crushing roundhouse that sent one Dudeman into a second Dudeman. Then they went straight off a roof. I then ran full speed at the last guard, slid, kicked his crotch up into his stomach, and swept the legs, leaving him KO’d on the floor. I’m not sure who got it worse, but I walked (well, ran) away without a scratch.

4) Secrets and Emotions

Icarus, a poorly-named young male who helps Faith readjust to runner life, is seen playing a board game against Noah, Faith’s leader and father figure. He’s an arrogant Bro in his sunglasses and vest, but there’s more to him than the Beta let on.

And, Faye Kingslee nails her deliver, giving Faith’s spare lines a lot of heart and emotion. These don’t feel like scenes; they feel like I’m eavesdropping on someone’s life.

5) Collectibles!

Performing certain tasks causes Runner Bags to appear, allowing you to customize your Runner Tag (which you use to Hack certain screens, displaying your Tag on all your friends’ games) and your Echo, which is a 3D virtual reality Faith that runs out in front of you when you click R3, showing the easiest path through Glass.

I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a sucker for an in-game unlock.

There you have it: five reasons I was like “OH DANG THIS THE BEST EVER” and why June 7th can’t come soon enough. Even if you’re not a hopeless fanboy like me, it’s worth your time and money to check this out. And no rental crap! Invest in this game. It’ll pay off in the long run.

Pun so intended.

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