In recent years, Remedy fell out of favour with many gamers, as 2016’s Quantum Break scored less than favourable reviews – especially on PC- and failed to impress its potential consumer base with rather lacklustre offering, which desperately tried to fuse the world of TV, with the realm of video games. In all honesty, when Control was first announced, many were resigned to the fact that it might just be yet another average game and once it was announced that 505 Games will be the publisher behind the title, some believed that it was set in stone, that Control won’t be the next big hit – the size of Max Payne, or Alan Wake.
If you were to approach Control with the above outlined sentiment, then within a quarter of an hour, you’d realize how wrong you were, because regardless of the studio’s previous effort and what some would consider a minor leagues publisher, Control is the AAA title which many of us were waiting for. In terms of overall quality, from storytelling, through visuals, all the way down to gameplay mechanics, Control is simply second to none and in all honesty, it appears that it will be the next big hit which Remedy so desperately needed.
When you first fire up Control, you’ll notice its rather simplistic, yet slick UI design, which is not only crystal clear, but also fits in with the overall corporate theme of Control. However, the clean cut, corporate design of the Old House, within which Control is taking place, changes rapidly throughout the game. The entire building shifts and turns, as you are making your way through the story mode and any and all marks which you leave on it, stay there seemingly permanently. I’m not just talking here about bullet holes, or broken glass – no. Shattered walls, smashed desks, collapsed bookshelves, and a wide variety of other debris, follow you like an ever expanding tail, which marks your territory.
Control features a quite expansive environment destruction system, as all objects which look like they can be smashed – can in fact be destroyed and while things such as steel generators, or steel crates cannot be ripped apart like wooden desks, or plaster walls, then they can be used to cause a fair amount of mayhem. One of the in game abilities, aptly named launch, allows you to use telekinesis to grab and throw objects at your will and the visual spectacle which is created by using this particular ability is immense, as in terms of visual effects, Control is simply second to none.
When it comes to visual fidelity of Control, then it has to be said that it is not only surprising, but immensely satisfying, as the basic graphical design is not only of high quality, but is also accompanied by a range of visual effects which elevates it to the next level. If not for the title’s immensely pleasureful combat, then Control’s use of visual effects would clearly be the star of the show, as all the particle effects, which range from dust swirling around rooms, sparks dancing among the shattered furniture, and pieces of paper swirling through the rain of bullets, to concrete blocks bouncing off of walls, and tornados of debris ripping through office spaces, are simply a joy to look at. The sheer spectacle which is created by the fusion of the immense particle effects, and the title’s overall great graphics, is one of the best which this industry has ever seen. But unfortunately, all this comes at a price.
For the most part, Control is a rather stable release, which flows through without as much as a hitch and I doubt that you will come across even a single stutter, during the first third of the story. However, this changes rapidly as soon as you enter the later portions of the game, as with the increase of player abilities, and the sheer volume of enemies, the title’s frame-rate has a rather ugly tendency to completely collapse. And by completely, I mean that it goes from stable 30, to somewhere around 15. It is not a complete slideshow like Homefront: Revolution, or an utterly unstable mess like the original release of We Happy Few, but it is still not perfect. What is most painful about all this, is the fact that the title’s frame rate can affect your combat performance, and at times, a single stutter can be a difference between life and death.
As you have had a chance to read before, the combat of Control is simply incredible. The controls are incredibly fluid and responsive, which allows for frantic, high-octane gameplay. The gun-play, is meaty and impactful, and most importantly, it greatly synergises with the in-game abilities. The latter are incredibly important, as within the final third of the game, all the in-game abilities are the factual difference makers. While the large portion of your damage output will still come from your firearms – even within the final third – then abilities such as Launch, Seize, Shield, and Levitate, are what is essentially going to pull you through the finish line.
Just like in all the other Remedy games, combat is essentially what makes Control truly great. It’s frantic, it’s engaging, and to put it is simply, it is nothing short of nerve wracking. If you take your foot off the gas, even for a fraction of a second, you are bound to get run over and that’s because Control is immensely punishing, and hellishly unforgiving. Even with your health fully upgraded, you can get put to dirt with a couple of shots – hell, some enemies can even tear you apart with a single attack. All this creates a sense of tension, of which even Alien: Isolation could be jealous of, because while Control may not be a horror game, it has an evil aura like no other and the title’s level design, only further embraces this idea.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that Control is not being published by your Sonys, Microsofts, or EAs of this world. Because despite of its publisher, it is a triple-A game through and though; from narrative, through to combat, all the way down to level design. The latter, is what holds this whole experience together. Sure, visual effects keep you excited, the combat has you pulling your hair, but the detailed and intricate level design, is what ultimately brings Control home.
Control takes place within the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Control, but despite of what you may think, the title’s locales are not limited to bland office spaces. In-game, you’ll come across 50’s inspired labs, futuristic high-security prisons for alien life forms, underground sci-fi quarries, overgrown and corrupted underground caves, warehouses and machinery rooms, and last but certainly not least – tranquil and peaceful roadside motels. While the sheer variety is enough to write home about, then ultimately, the level of detail which each of this locales features, is ultimately what makes them so special. Because they are more than just empty rooms with a lick of paint, they feel believable, and most importantly lived in, and make you feel like you are making your way through actual, real life locations, and not just cardboard, Hollywood scenery.
Even with the technical issues taken into consideration, Control is an incredible game and I won’t be surprised if it gets nominated for, or if it wins a fair few game of the year awards. Sure, its story may be on a simpler side, but the lore behind it, and the way in which it interjects with the greater world of Control, is what ultimately grabs, and pulls you in. As everything, from the protagonist’s weapon, through the skills and abilities, all the way down to bosses and even minor hostiles, has its backstory, and an explanation for its existence. The level of detail to which Remedy has committed itself in this regard, could challenge most modern RPGs.
To summarize, all that really has to be said about Control, is that it is a dark horse in this year’s Game of The Year race. Sure, it is bound to have hard time against Kojima’s and Sony’s Death Stranding. But it will definitely win gamers over with the fact that it is an actual video game – unlike some other releases. In all honesty, Control is the best game I have played this year and unless Death Stranding is the second coming of Jesus Christ himself, then I doubt I’ll change my mind, as I am bound to return the open world of Control which even after its completion, is full of content – right to the brim.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Control Video Game Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Replay Value - 9/10
User Review( votes)
By deciding to publish Control, 505 Games has scored an out-of-the-park home run, as REMEDY has delivered the publisher a clear Game of The Year contender.