Have you ever started playing a game and within the first few minutes uttered ‘What on Earth is going on’? Well that was my first reaction to Control and please don’t take that to be a bad thing. It’s not often a game baffles me and wows me at the same time mainly because I am frequently baffled by many things and the wow comes a little later. Control is the latest title from Remedy Entertainment and 505 Games which has been receiving a lot of praise from the gaming community. From the creators of Alan Wake, Max Payne and more recently Quantum Break, we were all intrigued to see how the latest title would turn out. So here are my thoughts on my time with Control on PS4 following it’s release.
Jesse Faden arrives at the Federal Bureau of Control headquarters – Oldest House – a place she has been looking for for quite some time. It appears abandoned, except for the presence of the Finnish janitor, Ahti, who thinks Jesse is there for an interview and sends her up. It soon becomes clear, nothing is as it seems. After finding the Director of the Bureau dead, Jesse picks up his gun and suddenly finds herself linked with the weapon and instated as the new Director…. Ahti will be disappointed. Unfortunately the Bureau is in lockdown as the facility has been taken attacked by an entity that we come to be known at The Hiss and Jesse finds herself thrown in the middle of something quite strange indeed.
Control is a sci-fi, action, third-person shooter with an intriguing narrative, gorgeous graphics and fun combat mechanics. From a personal perspective, when Control was announced I thought it looked incredible and I had no idea what it was about at the time. As the release date drew closer I deliberately avoided finding out much about the plot so as not to spoil things too much so I will try not to spoil too much of the game. There is a lot going on once the opening section of the game shows you the tutorial and throws you straight into the action. While it starts off relatively easy going with the combat while you try and work out what on Earth is happening here, it soon throws enemies at you to keep you on your toes while you still try to figure out what’s happening.
Narratively, there is a lot going on. The Bureau is shrouded in secrecy and Jesse has stumbled upon this bad situation while following her own personal endeavor. As you explore there are documents and old fashioned reel tapes on projectors for you to learn a lot more about the Bureau and what has been going on there. It’s a lot to take in and for the first couple of hours I did feel a little overwhelmed by the information I was gathering. While Jesse can follow the main story missions, the game also offers some side missions including some from Ahti so I would probably suggest dropping by to see him every now and again to see what’s on his job list. You’ll also discover new information about The Hiss and Object of Power that you will want to get hold of in order to gain new powers which include evading, launching objects (and enemies) and later on, levitation so be sure to look for these when you can. Don’t forget the side missions, timed research events and board challenges for extra mods and ability points as they are well worth doing.
The Objects of Power do wonders for combat. While your gun is pretty good with it’s recharging ammo in unlimited capacity, it does take a few moments to recharge depending on what modifications you attach to it so you’ll need to avoid the enemy onslaught and maybe even throw a few things at them while you wait for the ammo to come back. Your Energy is consumed by the powers you use so this too takes time to recharge. I found this was the thing that caused a lot of my deaths, I underestimated how quickly ammo and Energy would run out leaving me to run around trying to avoid enemies who were able to continue to fire at me. As the enemies come in mini waves, you can find yourself overrun and as I haven’t played a shooter on console for a little while, I just couldn’t get to grips with aiming, firing and hitting the right buttons to get me out of harms away. Occasionally though, I would get it right which would turn a potentially crazy fire fight into a beautiful ballet of bullets, flying concrete, retro paperwork and old style computers. It’s gorgeous to look at and insane to create. I still struggle a little with the combat but that’s a failing of my ability to switch back from PC gaming to console gaming rather than an issue with the game and the mechanics.
Graphically the game is beautiful with stunning, shifting scenery along with amazing attention to detail in this retro style office environment that looks straight out of a film based on the FBI in the 1970s. There are so many visual layers to this game which turn it into a cinematic treat that you have the pleasure of playing in. While watching some Outside Xbox gameplay they likened the opening credits to that of a Netflix style series and it is the perfect way to describe the look of the game. With flashes of great live action performances inter-cut within sections of gameplay and some very clever art direction you would almost think that this was a film or TV series. The only issue I found was that the PS4 struggled during the more intense combat sections where a lot was happening. It began to stutter and almost made you think that the console would give out. Remedy are aware of the performance issue and are looking to try and fix this but it’s also a noticeable problem when you finish a mission and the game seems to just freeze without no real explanation which is odd when the majority of the game runs smoothly. I do hope these performance issues are fixed soon as it is one of the only things that hinders the overall enjoyment of the piece.
Another aspect to mention is the sound as it really is atmospheric. The garbled voices, that remind me a lot of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, were highly effective in making you feel disorientated. The music signalling combat kept you focused and the other aspects of the soundscapes really built the atmosphere of an eerie, other-worldly entity that has taken over. The performances are not only great in voice but in the motion capture too which only adds to the impact the game has in sucking you in. It’s just an enjoyable experience except if you are playing on a standard PS4 which sees an upsettingly low FPS rate and just makes it unbearable to play.
Based on what I have played so far, Control is a treat. It plays well (when the console can cope with it that is), the enemies are challenging without making it impossible, there are some fun side missions and timed Research missions to break up the linear storyline and it’s gorgeous to look at. With hidden areas and the Board Countermeasures as bounties, you have a lot to do and enjoy while playing too to unlock more ability points and mods. It’s a shame the game wasn’t released with photo mode because it would have been the cherry on top (according to Remedy, it’s on its way!). I would certainly recommend Control and it’s a game that, at the moment at least, has an achievable Platinum trophy which I would like to add to my collection! A season pass for £19.99 is also available to purchase but no dates confirmed as of yet for the expansions although I assume the first one will tie in with the addition of the photo mode!