Control: Ultimate Edition is out now and PlayStation Plus subscribers can get it for free starting today. I have found it to be one of the most substantial next-gen conversions that takes full advantage of the latest technologies such as ray-tracing and the PlayStation’s DualSense controller. It also eliminates annoying bugs that plagued the launch of the original game, such as the frustrating stutter when exiting the pause menu.
The poster child for ray-tracing
When Control initially launched on PC, it was held up as a prime example of the visual possibilities ray-tracing can bring to a game, adding unparalleled depth that was graphically impossible on older technologies. With the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X‘s upgrade, that is now the case for ray-tracing on console.
Control takes place almost entirely in the Oldest House, the headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Control. The space is filled with windowed offices, reflective tiles, and otherworldly lighting. This environment is ripe to show off the capabilities of ray-tracing, which provides true-to-life reflections and shadows. Finding myself in the middle of a firefight in one of the clusters of offices, I’m not only seeing enemies through the glass windows, I’m seeing the reflection of the environment around me. Since the lighting is happening in real time, other windows are then reflected as well, the reflections bouncing off of them doubled up in the glass facing me directly, creating an almost infinite loop of reflections.
We obviously see this in the real world anytime we’re in a highly reflective environment, but to witness it in a game is breathtaking. That’s something I never thought I’d say regarding a virtual office space. Control already had incredible physics, with supernatural bullets shattering the glass into a thousand pieces and tearing up any objects in their path, and they pair excellently with these visual enhancements to make it one of the most immersive gaming experiences I’ve ever played around in.
The next-gen upgrade allows players to forego ray-tracing in favor of 60 frames per second for those that like to focus on performance over graphics. I’ve been incredibly impressed by the performance modes in next-gen titles. While the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X felt like they sacrificed too much in resolution to hit higher fps, the PS5 and Series X have been able to maintain clarity and instead sacrifice ray-tracing benefits. While ray-tracing is outstanding in a game like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, having Miles zip around the city in 60 fps just felt right, moving too fast to really catch the city’s reflection as he swung by a skyscraper.
In Control, 60 fps feels fantastic, and the simulated lighted reflections do a good job in moments to still provide great textures. But there are certain times where the game feels incredibly flat compared to it running with ray-tracing, so I think that for most people, capping the game at 30 fps and turning on those real-time reflections is going to be the best way to experience Control.
The best DualSense haptics since Astro Bot
A feature that proved to be more than a gimmick at the launch of the next-gen systems was the haptic feedback in the PS5’s DualSense controller, with every first party title from Sony and a handful of third party games taking tremendous advantage of the improved vibrations. The standout game for many was Astro’s Playroom, a pack-in title for the system that showcased the true breadth of what was possible with the DualSense: The pitter-patter of rain on Astro’s head, the overwhelming rumble of intense winds, and the tension in the triggers when using a springy frog costume. While other games certainly had excellent implementations of the controller’s haptics, none came close to the execution in Astro’s Playroom.
Control on the PS5 is the game that comes closest. As the lead character Jesse runs through the FBC, the rumble in the controller changes depending on whether she is stepping on carpet, tile, or concrete. The tension of the triggers alters depending on which weapon is selected, and you are given powerful, varied vibrations when using Jesse’s force abilities. I found myself just getting stuck in the middle of a cluster of enemies to dispatch them with the psychic push, rather than playing it safe and taking them out with my gun, because I simply could not get enough of the haptic feedback.
I look forward to unlocking further powers to see how they differentiate, and I urge players to consider playing the game on PS5 over Xbox Series X with how satisfying the haptics are. With the game being free this month on PlayStation Plus, there’s a huge incentive to do so anyway.
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