EA held a closed beta for the much anticipated Mirror's Edge: Catalyst over the weekend, and after running through the paces a bit (like what I did there?) here are some initial thoughts.
One of the first things I noticed was just how comfortable the controls are. I'm not one typically for first person perspectives, and the thought of running at somewhat high speeds up and down walls and rooftops was something I lamented more than looked forward to. After the introduction walks you through Faith's move set, I quickly became comfortable with the way she moves around the world. Aside from not having the how to soft land button illustrated somewhere in the control layout (it randomly appears as a tip during gameplay), I didn't struggle with the setup at all.
The world itself is beautiful, and it's nice to run around a brightly lit city for once. It feels like there's been a lot of grey and brown in the skylines of games lately, and this was a pleasant departure. Runners vision helps you navigate around the world swiftly, but I quickly found myself wanting to depart from the recommended path and just go explore. After the first few missions, you actually have some incentive to do that, locating secret computer chips and the like.
One of the most heavily critiqued areas of the original game was how it handled combat, namely guns. In the beta, there isn't a gun to be seen (that you can use mind you, the enemy still has them of course), and the traversal moves actually make running through some people to get to an objective a plausible feat. When you do have to stay and fight, the combat encourages you to stay aware of your surroundings, as using walls, rails, and objects to your advantage can really make a difference.
The only real negative point I have about my time with the game was that, while beautiful visually, the environments lacked some life. What I mean is that the people that you happen by along the way all feel very robotic and manikin-like, and it can break the player's immersion as it somewhat broke mine. Aside from the story characters, like Faith, Birdman, Noah, etc, everyone else is just window dressing, and it reminds you constantly that you're playing a game rather than experiencing a world.