Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Game review: Mirror's Edge Catalyst

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A scene from the video game, Mirror's Edge Catalyst. Photo / AP
A scene from the video game, Mirror's Edge Catalyst. Photo / AP

When Andy Bernard jumped off a shipping crate, yelled, "Hardcore! Parkour!" and crashlanded into a cardboard box, it felt like peak parkour. That moment, at the beginning of The Office's sixth season, featured Bernard, his boss Michael Scott and workmate Dwight Shrute jumping on the urban athletics bandwagon with hilariously awful results. That was in 2009.

Here, in 2016, parkour is the basis for Mirror's Edge Catalyst, a dodgy reworking of a cult 2008 game. As Faith Connors, a ninja courier fresh from prison, you're tasked with taking down an evil corporation by performing missions across the glistening future-city of Glass, and to do that, you'll need to get your Andy Bernard on and nail your parkour.

It's the game's trump card, providing plenty of thrills and more than a few spills as super sprinter Connors runs across walls, slides down drainpipes, slips under low-hanging beams and flips across ravines with increasing ease. When you add in parkour combat, with flying kicks to the chest or blows to the head against the game's stick-wielding foes, it gets even better.

Like Dying Light and Infamous: Second Son, Catalyst proves parkour might be one-note joke in the real world, but it still has legs in video games.

But it's also all Catalyst has got. Almost everything else about Mirror's Edge comes up short. The characters are boring and their dialogue is banal. Fight sequences are pointless and annoying. Missions are repetitive and tiresome. The story is short and as simple as it can get. And only Kim Dotcom could enjoy the soundtrack's dated dance music.

Even the game's great graphics can be troublesome, with terrific cityscapes and highwire escapades let down by boxy glitches when you get up close and personal with it.

Catalyst feels like an exercise in cheap fan service, a box-ticking sequel that doesn't do anything to justify the asking price.

It's been a long time since I've been this annoyed while playing a game that could be great, but just isn't.

That's about as awkward as watching Michael Scott roll across an office couch, smash into a table lamp and yell, "Parkour!"

Game: Mirror's Edge Catalyst
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Rating: M

- NZ Herald

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