When Control was released in 2019, I almost slept on what turned out to be one of the best games I’d played last year. Late to the Control party, I picked it up when its first expansion was released 7 months later. It was then that I was able to see why it had such critical acclaim winning over 80 awards. The way Control’s story is told is a perfect balance of cinematic story-telling and action packed gameplay. This is a game you want to experience in the highest quality possible. Unfortunately, my Playstation 4 wasn’t allowing Control to look or run at its best. But now with the launch of next-gen consoles, the Control: Ultimate Edition delivers a higher quality console experience for Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.
Control’s story can be confusing to explain overall as it’s filled with many twists and turns. But I’ll try to explain the basic gist of the plot as simple as I can without spoiling too much. The story begins with Jesse Faden arriving at the Federal Bureau of Control in search of her brother. An incident from their childhood separated the pair and Jesse wants answers. The F.B.C. is also the location of The Oldest House, a top secret living breathing location where the F.B.C. investigate all sorts of supernatural phenomena. One of those being The Hiss, a powerful supernatural evil shaking things up in the Oldest House. This recent outbreak sends the F.B.C. into lockdown. Jesse is now the Bureau’s only hope in solving the mystery and stopping The Hiss for good.
505 Games and Remedy’s way of storytelling makes Control more than just a video game. Their use of motion capture, cutaways and even titles/credits create an immersive cinematic experience. They also had a much larger plan for the game releasing two expansions after Control’s initial release: The Foundation and the Alan Wake crossover, AWE. Both expansions are included in the Ultimate Edition.
While they were successful in creating a memorable visual narrative, the overall gameplay wasn’t presented so smoothly when I first played it on the Playstation 4. I’m not shading gameplay mechanics itself though. Apart from the sometimes hard-to-read map, Control’s gameplay was a lot more fun than expected. The mix-n-match loadout and skill-tree systems allows for RPG-like versatility when it comes to playstyles. After two playthroughs, I still prefer to launch larger objects at my enemies whilst levitating as opposed to shooting at them. It’s alot different to basic shooting and running for cover found in other action-adventure games. What I didn’t like about the gameplay was how Control performed. I remember thinking how sluggish it was in some areas as well as the stuttering return to the game after being paused (which is still kind of there, it just doesn’t last as long).
Knowing things were going to be different this time, I was excited to step back into the F.B.C. again. Especially since it would be in 4K. However, I had to start the game fresh due to older save games not being compatible with the new engine. The AWE expansion has been sitting in the backlog pile since its launch and this would have been a great chance to jump back in from there. Starting over however didn’t phase me, as previously mentioned Control’s story and gameplay are totally worth it.
Reviewing Control: Ultimate Edition on Playstation 5, I immediately noticed not only the expected faster loading time but also the DualSense controller integration. As expected with any other PS5 game where gun-play is involved, Control: Ultimate Edition takes advantage of the right adaptive trigger. But it was the controllers reaction to Jesse’s footsteps I noticed instantly. Initially, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the controller slightly vibrating with every step I took. But as I played, it became pretty easy to tune them out.
But a different controller feeling wasn’t the next-gen experience I was looking for. Like most games on next-gen (except Xbox Series S), Control: Ultimate Edition offers two visual settings: Graphic & Performance. I’m the owner of a 65” 4K TV and when it comes to this kind of choice, I gravitate more towards Graphics. Higher framerate is also great but I prefer games to look visually appealing. But what comes with said choice in Control: Ultimate Edition made me think twice about my preference.
Running on Graphic mode, Control: Ultimate Edition runs at 30fps in 4K with ray-tracing. They had me at ray-tracing but lost me at 30fps. I’m used being offered 60fps in this mode and something higher in Performance mode. Graphic mode reminded me a lot of how Control ran on PS4. It looked nicer this time around but I didn’t want to play a game on next-gen at 30fps, not when it still felt sluggish. Performance mode however ramps it up to 60fps while also eliminating ray-tracing but retaining the 4K picture. This obviously made a huge difference with how the game ran and surprisingly I prefer it. Moving around a lot in this game, I’d prefer to do so in a smooth manner. There are slight differences between Graphic and Performance modes but the game still looks fantastic either way. The amount of detail put into both characters and environments is impressive. Especially with the level of realism put into facial features.
If you’re still sleeping on this game and you have access to next gen consoles, now is the time to wake up. Despite it’s lesser performing Graphic mode, Control: Ultimate Edition is still a fantastic console upgrade.
Control: Ultimate Edition is available now for Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.