The steady stream of upgraded and enhanced games that are releasing showcase the potential of the new consoles, and Control Ultimate Edition is a perfect example.
Control was one of those games in the PS4 era that I tried a couple of times, and even managed to get a few hours in, but it just didn’t click with me. The combat mechanics were brilliant, but the story appeared as a batty, weird mess that just didn’t seem to follow any kind of coherent form.
However, as one of the lucky few who have a PS5, I got to try out Remedy’s sci-fi thriller on Sony’s newest powerhouse via the PS Plus service. Control Ultimate Edition, tuned to the power of the PS5, was suddenly at my disposal. As we haven’t had a huge amount of affordable games to play on the system as of yet, I thought I’d give it one more go.
You have the option of playing the game in either performance or graphics mode. The game renders in 4k HDR in graphics mode, with ray-traced lighting, shadows and reflections, but the game is limited to just 30 fps. As pretty as the game looked, with the textures and the lighting really popping, as soon as you moved it lost its shiny reverence of beauty. 30 FPS just didn’t cut it for me, but opting for the silky smooth 1440p 60 fps option transformed the game completely.
I’ve always been an advocate for higher frame rates over resolution, and if ever a game shows this off, it’s Control. Particle effects, player movement and the incredible destructibility of the environments are all going on simultaneously. With not a jot of screen tear or any drops in the frame rate, it is transformative. Because everything plays smoothly, players can pinpoint exactly where they are and how to interact with their surroundings. This is extremely pertinent when facing challenging traversal sequences or for spatial awareness when facing enemies both in the air and on the ground. The smoothness of the game drew me into the experience far more than it ever did on last-gen consoles.
But it doesn’t stop there, Remedy hasn’t quite fully utilized the haptic feedback of the PS5 controller, but they have made a damn good start. While Jessie (the game’s protagonist) walks around, you can feel the ever so soft footfalls of her feet alternating in your hands in time to her strides. It’s not so intrusive as to be a constant disturbance, but it’s another layer of texture that immersed me even further into the game. The haptic feedback on the triggers was also a nice touch, and it gave each of the different weapon forms you acquire in the game a slightly different feel to them when pulling the trigger. The basic handgun form of your weapon had a fairly loose trigger, whereas the shotgun and grenade launcher versions needed a slightly harder pull.
My memory is a little hazy as to how the game sounded on the PS4 Pro that I played it on previously, but suffice to say the PS5 3D audio had me on a constant nervous edge. The distant clank of metal, the screech of an incoming enemy attack or the rumble of walls and rock moving was utterly convincing in my headphones. As the audio was so precise, I could pinpoint objects just by the sound and direction it came from even without seeing them.
I’ve been quite a harsh critic of the start of the current console generation, as although there is a fairly decent amount of new games for the system, not many have fully embraced or explored what the new technology is capable of. We were promised smoother and faster frame rates, alongside using the haptic controller in ever more immersive ways. So far, only Astro’s Playroom has hit that particular nail on the head. Additionally, since the Uncharted series wrapped up, and Lara Croft is currently MIA, third-person action-adventure games are a little thin on the next-gen ground, but Control fills that spot nicely.
Simply put, Control on the PS5 is a stunning example of what to expect from this generation and a must-play title. Other than Astro’s Playroom, it’s the first big game I’d give one of my friends to show them what a PS5 can do.
Despite my initial misgivings based on my experience with Control on the PS4 Pro, not only have I now enjoyed it so much to complete the main campaign, I’ve completed both the expansion storylines and am homing in on the Platinum trophy. I understand now why the game garnered so much praise and won so many awards during its initial release, as when you get into it, the story, gameplay, graphics and audio are excellent. One wonders how many more awards the game would have received if it was released as a next-gen title now.