Control’s road to release on PlayStation 5 has been a bit of a rocky one. Between the Ultimate Edition boxing out early adopters from a next-gen upgrade, certain users accidentally being given the upgrade they were told wasn’t possible, and now Control: Ultimate Edition releasing as a PlayStation Plus title on day one, things have gotten ugly. But the game itself is anything but. This is one of the best PS5 overhauls to date.
Control: Ultimate Edition offers up the definitive release of Remedy’s brutalist adventure, packing in the base game as well as both expansions — The Foundation, and Alan Wake tie-in AWE. It’s an impressive package. While this review will focus mostly on what the PS5 version brings to the table, you can learn more about Jesse Faden’s journey into the bowels of the Bureau of Control in our reviews of the PlayStation 4 version and the second piece of DLC.
The core gameplay and minute-to-minute action remain unchanged. The gunplay and powers are still brilliant, the environments – though some can get a little samey – are stunning to behold, and an overwhelming number of secrets and collectibles are absolutely worth hunting down. Granted, the gameplay functioning just as before means some of the problems remain baked in. The narrative structure may not be to the liking of some, and finding your way through all the environments can get confusing unless you already know where you’re going, though problems comprise an admittedly short list.
While Control was a great experience upon its launch, boy did it have performance problems. The headache of navigating with the in-game map is a thing of legend and the frame rate would nosedive constantly. This new version remedies that to such a degree that you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a title made specifically for the PS5. Both graphics options for the game are massive improvements over their PS4 counterpart. The Graphics Mode offers a 30 frames-per-second experience, which is what the PS4 version was supposed to be. This new mode is rock solid, and we didn’t so much as see a hiccup in performance, made all the more impressive by the fact it now renders at 1440p and includes ray-tracing.
For those wondering what ray tracing can really mean for a title, look no further than Control. The vaunted halls of the Bureau of Control are practically all reflective, so this change impacts just about every surface on-screen. It’s one of the best implementations of ray-tracing on PS5.
And that’s to say nothing of the game’s Performance Mode, which swaps out ray-tracing for 60 frames-per-second, all the while continuing to render at 1440p. And it’s with no small degree of shock that we report this second mode also runs flawlessly. A game that couldn’t even hit 30 reliably on a PS4 can now hit double that with the slightest effort. It’s an astonishing upgrade, and one deserving of celebration. As impressive as the graphics mode is, we recommend you opt for performance. Between the title’s robust physics systems, particle effects, and frantic combat, the 60 frames-per-second improves the experience drastically. But as a little cheat, you can turn on the Graphics Mode right before entering Photo Mode to ensure you get the best pictures possible.
Not to say all areas of the PS5 version are this impressive. PS5 DualSense controller implementation is there, but it doesn’t add to the experience as much as other titles. Feeling the halls of the Bureau contort and shift with the subtlety of haptic feedback, but their absence wouldn’t be problematic. This applies to firing the Service Weapon as well. Trigger resistance is present but it feels nowhere near as revolutionary as other shooters we’ve played.
3D audio is also extremely impressive, but with a caveat; audio design was one of Control’s best features on the PS4 already. While the leap in audio design won’t be as noticeable as on some other titles, this is because Remedy did such a good job the first time around — there’s simply less room to grow.
One area that did have a lot of room for improvement, however, is load times. Booting up the game on PS4 could take up to two minutes depending on your level, and the worst punishment for dying would usually be just how long you had to wait for things to load back up. This is a non-factor on the PS5 iteration, as load times — while not instant — are exponentially improved. A normal load time has gone from anywhere between 30 seconds and two minutes to something closer to 10 seconds.
Control: Ultimate Edition represents a great achievement. Between its already impressive gameplay and a robust number of performance upgrades, Control both looks and feels like a next-gen title. Sussing out secrets and uncovering the myriad mysteries and suspicious happenings tied to one of gaming's most unique and interesting places are better than ever. For anyone who had been holding off on playing the game, there’s never been a better time to give it a shot.