The open world city of Mirror's Edge Catalyst is unmatched - article

The open world city of Mirror's Edge Catalyst is unmatched - article
Years ago, EA's UK headquarters was a building in Chertsey, designed by the architecture firm Foster and Partners, and had a lot of interesting features. To begin with, there was a large moat full of ducks, or perhaps they were swans, and the front of the structure was mobile. Looking up, then, it was discovered that the building looked like a large letter E. Electronic!

Inside it seemed to be in the lair of a film villain, obviously, since it was built in the same years as the apocalyptic concrete spiral of Westminster station, London. The irregular windows made it impossible to predict from which direction the electric shutters that blocked the light from reflecting on skeletal flights of stairs and dark surfaces would descend. In short, a setting so suggestive that it ended in Inception, and in the TV series Jekyll, obviously to evoke a certain unease, something almost unreal. EA no longer works there, but that mausoleum disguised as a building is still there.

I have spent the last few days exploring another encounter between Electronic Arts and architecture and, even if this time Foster and Partners have nothing to do with it, I have found abstract forms and atmospheres as the basis of Specter. Maybe it's a bit of a strange architecture again, maybe it can't even satisfy its function one hundred percent, but I fell in love with Mirror's Edge Catalyst, finally landed on Steam with its load of races, jumps, dive and slide.

To see this content please enable targeting cookies. Manage cookie settings, Remember when EA announced the sequel to Mirror's Edge, saying that the icy simulator of parkour to the signature Says, would become open world? I remember thinking that the gameplay would have served an open world like no other. The first episode, the rest was decidedly the opposite of an open world, and it was not immediately easy to imagine how it would work, the change of approach. In the first chapter, every level was a small puzzle of urban design, sunny and candido, surface almost of plaster on the outside and confused on the inside.

To me, the atmosphere really liked. I also liked to get lost in the offices and not be able to find the exit, but I realize that is certainly not an experience for everyone, something that probably does not sit very well with the approach of a company like EA. The idea of expanding these spaces to the outside without losing the entanglement, to make them areas in the open world where you explore and coming back for more and more times, must have caused some headache for the level designers. The first Mirror's Edge was composed of layers that gave the impression to be connected to each other, but make them really connect with is a whole other pair of sleeves.

The stroke of genius of the Catalyst, and it is a stroke of genius, despite the tiepidissima response of public and critics, is that its spaces are connected to each other, but at the same time have the intention to hide the connections even more profound and inaccessible. Roofs, narrow streets, stairs, ducts, and luxurious suites that are half open. Gutters, garbage bins, fans slow down to pass through it. A city of glass beautiful, deserted, with a sky that looks like a rendering from the future. A city of trails and paths, but also a city of surfaces.

I was amazed at the number of times that I found myself staring at a surface in front of me. There are windows, of course, that allow you to peek in on offices-sterile, but there are those fans that allow you to peek into what is on the other side. And the flooring, gentlemen, that flooring! There are times that you look down and see through thanks to the grates or panels of perforated metal or plastics and transparent that seem to come from the Enterprise-signed by J. J. Abrams. You look down and see the rooms that you do not know how to reach (and if you can do it), spaces where they can hide, that could be accessible or inaccessible.

And then you look at the top. Again there is a white oppressive to dominate the city, but is a white that takes its total whiteness through the gray and the blue and the reflections and all those colors that are not white. The city is the protagonist: cold, abrupt, bad. But the more you progress and the more there are missions that take you out of the city and into the giant computer. Perhaps the message is that the city itself is a computer, with human instead of electrons? Sure there is that those few humans that you meet don't seem particularly at ease trapped in the rooms that seem to have no inputs or outputs.

This setting so aseptic is surprisingly fun. It seems to be to the dentist at times, but the architecture invite you to the flashing without stopping. The mission of best is the one that asks him to climb on a skyscraper to remove a piece. That is the moment in the game where you will learn the fast change, the move that maybe you could ignore it until that moment but suddenly it becomes obvious the glue between all the other. It seems to be in Burnout Paradise when you draw a perfect path through the world that comes to meet fast and always just a step from the impact. Suddenly it turns out that the pipes are there to allow us to change direction in a blink of an eye, and the red objects to follow, and they align so perfectly that we forget to be in a game about rebellion, by making us follow a straight line.

And then you land, and the landing feels. The moment of impact is made very well with that quake, and the gaze on the hands halfway between the camera and the floors are made beautifully. Are sudden stops, but necessary. Are the price to pay to maintain a credible racing at breakneck speed, and they, too, are firmly embedded in the design of the city.

By images like this, it is clear that EA do not know how to position his game, in a world, which according to them was playing all of the Assassin's Creed. When the flow of action is interrupted, though, Mirror's Edge Catalyst is the closest thing to those dreams where you want to do something simple but do not succeed. Maybe you have to open a door, or put the PIN of the phone but continue to make mistakes, forget the numbers, or each number takes an eternity. Understand the feeling? However, between a mission and another when you go hunting for collectables for the city, it is almost pleasant to get lost in the nightmare. It is fun to run non-stop, up, down, to a city that is defined by a system of control that only wants to make us think of where we will be with you in a moment about the vertical axis.

And the strange thing is that the cross-references to places in the real world are not lacking, far more than in games less stylized. Perhaps it is precisely this reduction to a minimum at work. San Adreas is Los Angelese and only Los Angeles, Crackdown 3 seems to be the outskirts of London, but the emptiness of the city candida of the Catalyst is in the minds of any of the summer the streets are deserted, or for a walk at night along a river, it does not matter exactly where. It would be interesting to know what they had in mind the designer (an invisible presence, but constantly perceived in the game, not always benevolent), in which pictures or books were thinking and if maybe we have some in common. I think of the plan, Lloyd Wright Jr to transform the neighborhood from los angeles, Bunker Hill, in a space completely surrounded by walls, with pathways to various heights divided by means of transport so as to make you feel the presence of the traffic and hide it at the same time. Very Mirror's Edge's approach.

What the virtual city in the game has, and that does not seem to refer to anything else, it is that pile of levels on levels: non-glass, non-graphite, non-plastic, and underneath them glimpses of a hidden world. And above, in the sky, the shiny texture and squeaky now it is clearly the glue for the whole without, however, making it completely readable.

Throughout the city, and everything that it contains, is immersed in this atmosphere of lucid. Plastic? Cement? Foam? It is never clear. The materials are always well made, but there is something above that makes them almost caramellosi, something indecipherable. Something to love.

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