This won’t be the first article of it’s kind out there in the wild, and it certainty won’t be the last, but I wanted to share my particular moment of realisation with you. See, I’ve always, at least for the most part, relied on gaming reviews to inform me as to what I should and shouldn’t invest my time in to, especially now considering said time is at a premium. In what should, in theory, mark a half way point, a score of five (out of ten, which is a standard nowadays) means that, actually, it’s pretty awful. Seven is considered the average, and it’s only when you start hitting the eights do you know you’re onto a winner. My latest gaming affair has a metacritic score of 69 meaning that, as mentioned above, it’s not that hot. That game, my friends, is Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, the much requested follow-up to EA’s popular 2008 title.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a game that need not exist, considering the first title, while it had it’s flaws, was a perfectly contempt game and didn’t particularly require a sequel to fulfil the missed opportunities that it had provided. A new IP for what was, at the time of release, a fairly new console generation, was much needed, and the hype surrounding the game was phenomenal. Combat disappointed many, especially so the gun-play, but the flow that the parkour allowed was a unique experience, and one that was much appreciated by gamers worldwide, especially myself. Well, years later, a sequel emerges, featuring an open world, re-worked combat and, somewhat, traversal mechanics, and whilst hype was definitely present, it failed to light the controller-wielding public alight in the same way as the original. The following are quotes from other gaming publications:
“The original Mirror’s Edge is an overlooked gem from last generation, but even diehard fans will have trouble finding the diamonds in this rough.” – Ben Reeves, Game Informer
“Mirror’s Edge‘s return shines in some regards, but is ultimately a disappointment.” – Ryan McCaffrey, IGN
“Mirror’s Edge Catalyst has a strong core built by its movement system, but when it comes time to do anything else than run from point A to point B, you’ll probably be more inclined to run away.” – Spencer Campbell, Electronic Gaming Monthly
The disappointment was abundantly clear, especially considering this launched alongside greats, such as Overwatch, that mastered the mechanics that it presented to players. With those reviews, and many more following the same path, I decided not to invest my time in the much anticipated sequel. What a mistake that was, I find out months later. Admittedly, I spent a measly £12.49 on it, so I would’ve been OK if it didn’t feel like the incredible experience I would’ve expected if it had been purchased on release day, but the game has blown me away. My feelings on the title have been perfectly encapsulated in the below quote, again from a review that went live around the launch window:
“I imagine most players will happily bounce from side mission to delivery to grid node and back again, content to do what Mirror’s Edge has always been best at: constantly moving forward and up. And once you can focus on that, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a flawed, but often great breath of something different and exciting in an open-world landscape full of the same old thing.” – Arthur Giles, Polygon
Reviews are completely subjective, and there are so many variables that you have to take into consideration; How was the reviewer feeling at the time of playing, and subsequently writing? Are they a fan of the genre? Such questions are important, and as journalists we will try our best to offer an impartial review, to offer an objective review, but as humans that’s simply just not possible. As gamers, also, there are many variables as to whether we will enjoy something at a particular time, and if we believe the money spent to fun ratio is positive. There are certain games that you play when you’re in a certain mood, and Catalyst was one such game; I needed something large, expansive, enjoyable and not too taxing. Give it a few months, when my baby would have arrived, and I may not enjoy it as such. I may need something engrossing and deep for me to get my teeth into in my sparse downtime, and I’m sure Final Fantasy XV will be there for me in those times of need.
What I’m trying to say, in short, is don’t write off a game simply because you’ve read some bad things about it. It always helps to keep an open head, and an open heart, to things like this, and you may even thank me one day. Maybe.
Have there been any games that you’ve written off initially, only to go back and enjoy it later on? Let us know!