Control: Ultimate Edition review for PS5.
Control was not only one of the best games of 2019, but also the culmination of the writing, worldbuilding, and third-person shooter skills that Remedy had been cultivating since Max Payne. But its ambitions were too big for most of the systems it was on, which led to its embarrassing performance on anything that wasn’t a PC. Control: Ultimate Edition is the chance for the game to finally flourish on consoles that can better support its vision. And because of the power afforded to it by the PS5 and Xbox Series X, it’s finally able to live up to its potential.
The Oldest House has some new tricks
A lot of that potential was diminished because of its poor technical performance on the PS4 and Xbox One. While Remedy straightened out a few kinks after launch, most of the game’s firefights were essentially slideshows, especially on the base versions of those systems. A lesser game would have been crushed under such monumental technical shortcomings.
Control: Ultimate Edition fixes all of those problems in both of its two modes. Performance mode amps the game up to about 60 frames per second at all times, more than compensating for the 15 to 20 frames it was constantly dropping to on PS4 and Xbox One. Control has speedy combat so this higher and more consistent smoother frame rate fits its gameplay tempo. Exploding furniture and hordes of angry Hiss don’t tank the frame rate or noticeably change it; a welcome change and overcorrection from its past performance. Given that past performance, it’s ridiculous that the free upgrade path is just limited to those with the Ultimate Edition and not extended to the people with just the core game.
But its performance mode does not have ray tracing, which is what the quality mode specializes in. Ray tracing has a big effect on Control because of its many, many shiny surfaces, meaning there are more possible reflections here than in other titles. The many glass windows reflect Jesse as she walks by each office. The Astral Plane is more eye-catching because of its glossy marble surfaces. Reflections are subtle, but they add just a bit more detail to the remarkably dense and destructible floors of the Oldest House. It already reacts so heavily to Jesse’s powers so it makes sense for it to equally react to her reflection as well.
These visual effects come at the cost of the frame rate since it runs at 30 frames per second. But it’s a solid 30 that doesn’t buckle when the Hiss invade or when a whole row of office equipment shatters into a bunch of splinters. This is huge as players aren’t stuck with one busted mode, but instead have two equally appealing modes with their own strengths.
The game looks fantastic either way as Control’s excellent and otherworldly art direction is a constant across all of its versions. Any boost in technical prowess is going to work in its favor because of its fundamental strengths. Sadly, the photo mode that was patched in after the original’s launch is on the basic side and limits how well players can show off its visual marvels.
The Director hasn’t lost her touch
All of Control’s other inherent strengths are still just as remarkable in the Ultimate Edition. Combat is fast and kinetic, encouraging players to push forward and aggressively use their multiple abilities and weapons to stay alive. Sitting back isn’t an option since fallen enemies drop health — a solid game plan to take from the newer Doom games.
Flying around, hucking chunks of cement, and rapidly spraying Spin bullets at a whole host of different types of Hiss while managing cooldowns is fluid and frenetic and never loses its edge. It’s still satisfyingly tough, but a handful of new checkpoints and host of assist modes help make the difficulty more manageable for those having trouble. Those features got patched into the original, too, but the dramatically shorter load times are new and further streamline the game and mitigate how long players spend out of the game’s world.
That world itself is still one of the best in the medium. Remedy drip feeds the player a steady dose of weird, showing the player a bit of the world without ever fully lifting the curtain. This is best shown in its host of redacted collectible (and well-placed) documents that edit out just enough of the juicy details and the awe-striking environments that evade rational thought. Curiosity is a main motivating factor and very few titles manage to fuse such genuine wonder with such nuanced and obtuse storytelling.
The Foundation and AWE, its incredible two post-launch expansions, further add to the universe and fill out the whole package. Remedy did not cut corners with its DLC or its post-launch updates and bundling everything together makes for a more complete experience that adds new secrets to partially uncover and more abilities to test out. Control was never light on content, but the Ultimate Edition shows off how many meaningful additions Remedy patched in over the game’s lifespan. While it sadly has no new modes, missions, or cosmetics, it does have a few helpful PS5-exclusive features like in-system hints and adaptive triggers that both emulate the pull of a trigger and fully jam once the weapon is out of ammo.
Control: Ultimate Edition Review | The final verdict
If Control was “weirdness, perfected” then Control: Ultimate Edition is weirdness, perfected and fully realized. Bundling all of its content in one place is a decent proposition as it was supported supremely well after its launch, but the technical advancements are what make this “ultimate edition” so ultimate. Its swift combat is finally stable enough to move at the pace it was supposed to originally move at. The immersive world is made even more immersive with its many visual upgrades. Control was so obviously built ahead of its time as these enhancements aren’t just surface-level touch-ups; they’re instrumental improvements that help this game become its fullest self and the best Director of the FBC it can possibly be.
Game Revolution reviewed Control: Ultimate Edition on PS5. Code provided by the publisher. Control: Ultimate Edition is also on Xbox Series X/S. PS4, Xbox One, and PC versions are also available, but they are just the 2019 version of Control with its DLC.