Control is a supernatural third person shooter/ability wielder game wherein the player takes control of Jesse Faden as she explores the mystery behind her past within the Federal Bureau of Control. As the player explores the building, various supernatural phenomenon will occur and Jesse and the player will have to fight their way though Bureau members under the control of the malevolent influence of the HISS.
As the game progresses the player will encounter items of significance that will put Jesse through a trial, and with the trial complete she will unlock more of her supernatural powers such as telekinesis and dashing in flight. There are more role playing elements throughout the game in the form of unlocks also. Jesse will be able to level up her powers, augment them with different traits, and even alter the form in which her guns takes. Change the shape of your weapon to suit your needs, and augment it and you abilities with passive power-ups.
Control released late last year, to huge success and critical acclaim and was ported earlier this year to the latest ‘next-gen’ consoles, and is brought to the world by its developer Remedy Entertainment and it’s publisher 505 Games. So, does Control live up to the hype and is it worth the investment of both your time and money. Well, stick with me as we go through the MGN Impressions of Control, then you’ll know.
Our MGN Impressions have evolved, and today we’re going to dissect Control from a variety of angles, we’ll give each angle a score from ten, and then give you our final verdict. We’re going to score Control on:
- Difficulty – How does Control scale on the difficult meter? Is it challenging enough to maintain your interest through an entire playthrough? Or is it too easy, making the game boring, or too difficult, making it inaccessible?
- Appearance – Does Control look good, how are the graphics, is it demanding on the GPU or can your computer actually run the game and have it look half decent? We’ll see!
- Sound – Is there voice acting, if so how is it, if not why not? How are the sound effects, do the gunshots and abilities Jesse can pull off hit the ear right? Then, how is the soundtrack, does it work thematically with the game, or against it? Or, is it simply there, with no impact whatsoever?
- Story – Control boasts about being an epic-story telling experience. So, is it? If it is, is that story woven in seamlessly with the gameplay, or does one tread on the toes of the other?
- Fun – Sometimes game that focus heavily on the story forget that they’re supposed to be fun as well. Is Control closer to a visual novel, than something you can sit down and actively play? Or, is the story an aid to the gameplay without being jarring to your fun? Can you just simply sit down for a short amount of time and play Control for fun?
- Price – How does the amount of time, and the amount of enjoyment that you can get out of Control compare to how much money you have to spend on it? Is the time/enjoyment in proportion or does the game fall up short, and is it overpriced? We’ll get there.
Control is not a challenging game, often combat boils down to simply hiding behind cover, waiting for the enemy to stop shooting you, then shooting them back. Yes, there is some variety in the enemies that you will face. Some will rush you, some will have their own abilities, some will explode, but there never really is any challenge.
Jesse is well equipped from the get-go, and you get abilities quite quickly as you progress through the game. The issue is that the game doesn’t really get any more challenging, in fact, quite the opposite. The game’s enemies wouldn’t be a challenge with the base kit that Jesse begins with at the beginning of the game, but you just get stronger and stronger, but the enemies don’t really get more challenging to accomodate this.
Like I said, the game does throw different ones at you. But, they’re just that. Different. No really stronger, or more complex, or with better AI. Just different. So, you never really feel like you’re challenged. Jesse might proclaim that she feels like the two of you are in danger, but it never genuinely feels this way. Especially with the boss fights, they boil down to much the same formula as the regular enemies just with a longer health bar and maybe a flashy attack thrown in. Stick to cover, wait, shoot. Eh.
This lack of difficulty and challenge actively works against the narrative. It’s hard to build suspense, and fear with a horror subgenre, if there are no challenging enemies or elements to the game. It just makes that theme feel quite comical. The game tries to instil fear, then you defeat whatever the ghostie is with extreme ease. It’s laughable and that kind of humour is death to fear. So, that’s pretty disappointing, and makes the suspense and horror elements of the story fall flat.
Difficulty – 4/10
Control can look extremely good, if you have a beefy graphics card to handle how demanding the game is. We played the game on the highest settings with a moderately good computer, and there were still portions of the game that dropped the FPS. Not dramatically enough to make the game unplayable, but enough to be noticed. So, the game can look, but isn’t optimized well for the general audiences machines.
Whilst Control can be the bragging point and showcase for ray-tracing, that really shouldn’t be a selling point. A better focus on optimizing the game, rather than being a showpiece to sell graphics cards, would have made for a much more enjoyable game. That’s as far as PC is concerned.
On console, especially if you’re not playing the enhanced version on the next-gen, you will notice some severe stuttering and graphical issues. During the games more graphic-intensive sections of the game, the poor optimization shines through and will cause jarring stutters and frame drops.
Between this, and long load times and jarring texture load ins, I can’t really recommend playing Control on anything but the highest end console – if you can get your hands on one. If you’re thinking about picking Control up on the last gen hardware and trying your luck, I wouldn’t bother.
Appearance – 6/10
Courtney Hope knocks her voice acting performance out of the park. In fact, the entire game is casted quite well and the performances of those chosen cannot be faulted. So, Control gets a huge check mark for both the casting of voice actors, and their performances. But, as far as that category goes, Courtney really does deserve some recognition over and above that of her peers for her performance as Jesse Faden. She brings the character to life, and once you play the game it will quickly become apparent that it could not be anyone else’s voice behind the protagonist.
What does that leave? The sound effects in game, and the sound track.
As far as the sound effects, the weapons feel okay. The shots of your main weapon sound as they should. The shotgun weapon type feels impactful, and the more accurate weapons hit the ear just as well. My issue with the sound effects is the abilities that Jesse can perform, they just don’t sound cool enough. Which they should.
Telekinetically ripping rubble from the wall so that you can force push it into an enemies face is a really badass moment inside the game, but the ability sound effects are almost non-existent and doesn’t really make you feel anything. Don’t get me wrong, the ability makes you feel badass, but the lack of an impactful sound effect signalling your various paranormal powers makes the game feel a little dead. Perhaps this quiet is to enhance the suspense or the horror feel of the game, but it just falls flat instead.
That just leaves the soundtrack. It’s not secret that I am a sucker for a great video game soundtrack, and that’s what Control’s tries to be. It tries to be dark, and edgy and have you sitting on the edge of your seat. The thing is though, it just doesn’t. It feels quite .. generic. There’s not much there to make it feel unique. It feels like if you google ‘horror game soundtrack‘ and just copy whatever the gist is of the results of that google, then you’d be left with Control’s musical score. And often, it just doesn’t really match the game. Like I mentioned earlier with the difficulty, you never really feel tense, and the music score tries to enforce this feeling, but it just doesn’t come.
Control is first and foremost a story-telling experience. Strip away every aspect of the game, Control was made to tell an interesting and compelling story. And it does, it does hit the mark in the aspect. The beginning of the game, the exposition narrated by Jesse (Courtney Hope) draws you instantaneously and will make you forgive many of the games flaws in the vein of seeing Jesse’s story through. So, kudos to the writing team for nous and execution on that point.
But does that initial cut-scenes draw carry through to the rest of the game, and is it backed up by good story-telling throughout? Yes. The point I will chiefly make about Control’s story is that, the more that you know, the more that you want to know. You’re fed breadcrumbs to the game’s overarching story throughout, and each breadcrumb makes you starving for the next. It carries the game throughout the entirety of your playtime. It’s not predictable, and it’s nothing something you can compare to other experiences. It’s truly unique, and that is a really rare thing nowadays.
I will say that if you’re playing Control simply because you’ve seen the action sequences, that you might be a little disappointed with how often those are held up by the lore. But I would say to hold onto your disappointment, and see the experience through even if you’re an action junkie, the experience that you’re left with toward the end of your Control play-through will change your opinion on the frequent story-telling pit stops.
Story – 9/10
Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes the fun that can be found in Control, that is throwing enemies around and shooting up the place, can be halted in order to maintain the story-telling experience. At first, this can be a little jarring. Why? Because as you begin unlocking new, and cool abilities, you can be a little frustrated that there isn’t an opportunity to spam them at enemies until you’ve sat through a lot of exposition.
Why don’t I have a problem with this? Because the story-telling is of the highest order, and the action sequences do come if you’re patient. Those sequences of fun aren’t particularly challenging, but they are satisfying. Sure, it’s not going to make you fight a boss several times and learn the ins and outs of combat surrounding that particular fight, there’s just not need. BUT! .. what I will say is this: not everything need be a challenge.
Sometimes at the end of the day it is nice to just come home, turn on the computer, and feel like a Goddess. Jesse is overpowered, and therein lines the fun. Smashing enemies in the face with a fire-extinguisher throwing with your awe-inspiring mind powers is fun every single time. The more overpowered you become, the more fun you have. There’s no challenge, sure, but there is enjoyment found in the slaughter and that makes Control a fun game.
I said earlier on when we visited the difficulty of Control, that the lack of a punishing games makes the themes seem comical, and can ruin the tense and suspenseful aspects of the game, and that is true. But, if you accept that and just indulge in being a super-powered bad-guy melter, and don’t try and force Control to be a scary-movie experience, then there is honestly so much fun that can be had with the combat mechanics. Whatever misgivings I have about the challenge are moot when I can mind-bend a piece of the floor into an unsuspecting enemy’s face. Strip everything else away, and that is fun 100 times out of 100.
Fun – 9/10
The Ultimate Edition for Control is currently $59.95AUD on the Steam store. Does that mean you get value for your money? Is that price in proportion to how much game-time you can get out of Control, and how enjoyable that experience is? Well, considering that I payed that price and have had my time with Control I feel like I can say that it feels a little overpriced.
Depending on whether you take your time to explore every avenue or not, you will get roughly 13 hours out of the game. More or less depending on how much of a completionist you are. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great experience and the story is something that will stick with you. But there just isn’t enough of it for me.
The game-play feels good, and it can be a lot of fun to screw around with, it just all wraps up quite suddenly – it felt to me. I was a little surprised when I reached the end of the Control game-play tether. As such, I’m going recommended that you pick it up, but wait for a sale for sure.
Price – 6/10
Final Verdict – 7/10
That’s going to wrap things up for our MGN Impressions review of Control, I hope you enjoyed our coverage and if you agree or disagree with any of the points we’ve made, we’d love to hear from you on our MGN.gg blog, and the YouTube channel. Be sure to keep any eye out on both for news, reviews, updates and all the things you love, on all the games you love.