Giant Bomb Review

100 Comments

Control (PC) Review

5
  • PC
  • XONE
  • PS4
  • NSW
  • PS5
  • XSX
  • LUNA

Control feels like Remedy firing on all cylinders, resulting in a smart and sensational action-adventure.

No Caption Provided

Control is a great game for a lot of reasons, both big and small. It tells an exciting and interesting story in an extremely fascinating setting. It weaves in the episodic framework of a television show without requiring you to put down the controller for long periods of time. The action weaves together traditional shooting and supernatural abilities in a way that feels very natural, letting you flow from one move to the next in a way that feels pretty cool. Control also trusts its players by creating a large, shifting space to explore without feeling the need to paint a ton of UI over the action in an effort to keep you on track. The signs on the walls work in Control, helping to ground it and make the Oldest House feel like a real space. Well... right up until all the astral projection starts happening, anyway.

The story, setting, and world of Control was easily my favorite part of the game. From the opening moments, when Jesse Faden finds her way to the front door of the Federal Bureau of Control's headquarters only to find the front desk completely unmanned, inspiring her to step in and dig deeper, I was hooked. There's something about the game's mix of Twin Peaks, X-Files, and SCP Foundation that just spoke to me from the get-go. From there, you begin exploring the Oldest House on a search for your brother, who's been missing since the men in black showed up and took him when you were kids. The hows and whys of all that are fascinating, and I think the game's main plot is really solid, even if the ending wasn't quite as explicitly revelatory as some might want. But it's all the parts around the edges that do the heavy lifting in Control. Finding a "weird" artifact down a side path or reading some of the game's well-written collectibles ends up feeling rewarding on its own, and chasing down some of those side missions ended up being my favorite stuff in the game. It has a few memorable characters that you'll meet along the way, but for the most part it's Jesse, alone, exploring an amazing space full of intensely weird supernatural objects and blasting possessed humans with a cool-looking gun that morphs into different styles of weapon.

The combat feels fine in Control, and it fleshes out more and more as you progress and unlock new powers. You'll eventually be able to levitate, for example, and this opens up some interesting new concepts for combat. Control isn't necessarily a cover-shooter, though putting some geometry between you and the incoming attacks certainly helps. The action flows pretty well, letting you slide from one move to the next, over to the gun for a bit, and back without feeling like you're plodding or planting your feet after every move, which was something that pushed me away from Quantum Break. There were a couple of tough, if not mildly frustrating boss fights to be found here, but nothing that felt wildly unfair or broken.

No Caption Provided

Control also nods towards Remedy's long-running interest in tying its games to episodic television or radio. After finishing a main mission, you'll hear about your next task, and then get a quick montage of future events. It isn't explicit, but it sets up a real "next time on Control" vibe that kept me pushing forward to learn all the context behind the moments in the clips. I was rarely disappointed by what I found.

This is an open-world adventure game of sorts, one you could sort of compare to a Metroid-style game. You'll gain traversal moves here and there that open up access to new parts of the facility. But that isn't necessarily a huge part of the game. I found it really interesting that Control trusts players to navigate the facility without the benefit of an on-screen minimap. You can pull up a map of the facility at any time and get a sense of where you're at, but most of your reconnoitering comes from actually looking at your surroundings and reading signs. Like a real person might actually do. This probably isn't the first time a game has done this, and some people will probably come away from Control wishing that the map was more functional and modern, but this is the first time I can say this felt like a benefit to the game instead of just a game with bad mapping options. This helps the Oldest House feel "real," even when its warping, twisting walls reconfigure on the fly, leaving you wondering what just happened and where you might be now.

This is probably a good a time as any to say that this review applies to the PC version of the game. I found Control to run quite well there on a few different configurations, and this was also the first game I've seen that made all the fancy and extremely expensive ray-tracing stuff that Nvidia has been banking on lately feel like a cool, useful feature. The reflections and lighting with all those bells and whistles turned on just look fantastic. But the game still looks solid without the (extremely) expensive graphics card. Much has been said about the graphical fidelity and frame rate issues found in the console versions of the games, especially when running on the old base model boxes. That stuff sounds like a real shame and like a significant knock against Control if you own the original PS4 or Xbox One, but that's beyond the scope of this review.

Great performances, strong action, and a solid sense of design all come together to make Control one of my favorite games so far in 2019. Control feels like Remedy finally making all of its different interests play well together, better than they've ever done it before.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+

100 Comments

Avatar image for s5n8k3
s5n8k3

186

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By s5n8k3

Great article Jeff!

My only complaint is that I got lost a lot and, couldn't use the map that well.

Avatar image for instinct666
InStInCt666

71

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

wait so whats happening with review exactly ?
its seemed for a while that they were done with them,
then they changed to a podcast format (that i liked)
and now were back at just writing review ?

Avatar image for amiga1200
amiga1200

213

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 1

Fair play to Jeff. I'm glad he enjoyed it so much. I loved the setup and world-building but the performance on PS4 was so shoddy, and I ended up finding the shooting to be pretty repetitive and frustrating. Plus, the way the story plays out..? I mean, it's...fine?

Great narrative design and world stuff, well worth playing. But I wish I'd had his experience with Control.

Avatar image for mrsmiley
mrsmiley

1646

Forum Posts

3766

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 5

User Lists: 3

Woah, feels good to see a new review from Jeff! I beat Control (loved it), but I really do need to return to the world to check out a ton of side stuff I didn't get to. Thanks for the reminder! For the record, I played through it on a One X with an external SSD (a necessity for modern console gaming IMO) and had almost zero graphics issues. I had couple instances of a mild dip in the frame rate that didn't interfere with gameplay, but that's it.

Avatar image for cloudymusic
cloudymusic

2194

Forum Posts

4877

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 1

I'm really looking forward to the DLC they have planned, if only to learn more about the world.

Avatar image for avioto
Avioto

456

Forum Posts

39

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@instinct666: They're not completely done with them, simple as that.

Avatar image for taaltos
taaltos

62

Forum Posts

91

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 2

Edited By taaltos

@instinct666: if history repeats, they review games they feel passionate about either for better or for worst, or as a cautionary tale in mediocrity, i.e. Anthem/Crackdown 3.

Avatar image for marokazam
Marokazam

97

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Did not expect to see another review pop up this year

Avatar image for tommy
Tommy

31

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Leaving this comment before reading the review - really glad to see a new review on the site

Avatar image for coruptai125
coruptai125

98

Forum Posts

195

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 4

Avatar image for emanresu84
emanresu84

10

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Loved this game, probably second favorite of the year behind the RE2 remake. Great review, Jeff.

Avatar image for namerson23
Namerson23

30

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I loved everything about this game (got my first platinum since Doom 2016), but the performance on consoles, even the pro versions is abysmal, and can completely ruin the experience. Like with most games, the PC version is the way to go.

Avatar image for garwalk
garwalk

418

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I think this might be my GOTY, which is extremely unexpected. Jesse's definitely top contender for "Best New Character". As a huge X-Files geek I loved the story. Looking back on it, yeah, I guess the ending wasn't SUPER satisfying, but, it didn't bother me. There were some really fun twists and gimmicks in the final hour that I found pretty entertaining. Special shoutout to the level where you use the headphones.

I played on Xbox One X since my PS4 isn't a Pro and my PC doesn't have RTX and it ran fine, although often when I'd open up the map it seemed like it was refusing to load. Minor.

The biggest complaint I had with Control was the horrendous checkpointing system. Some of the combat sequences - especially near the end - became not just difficult but lengthy, and having to backtrack all the way to the beginning and redo the whole thing on death, especially with those load times (again, XB1X) was a real bummer.

That said, I agree with the 5 Stars.

Avatar image for bumbletoes
bumbletoes

42

Forum Posts

546

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 1

Just when I was lamenting the fact that the site felt like it had a huge lack of 'words' content a written review shows up. Very happy to get a full written review. Thanks @jeff!

Avatar image for pudge
Pudge

1302

Forum Posts

326

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 11

Thanks for the review Jeff!

Avatar image for emphulio
emphulio

274

Forum Posts

18

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

It's always fun to read Jeff's articles. I played the game on base ps4 and the performance issues didn't really stand out to me. It could and should be better, but it isn't even close to Just Cause 3, in terms of performance.

Like Jeff, I really enjoyed the in-game navigation by signs. A great game!

Avatar image for ghost_cat
ghost_cat

2641

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

More like Jeff is firing on all cylinders.

Avatar image for meierthered
MeierTheRed

6205

Forum Posts

1701

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 3

Great review Jeff, mirrors my thoughts on the game pretty much. Thought i did find that by the end the combat got pretty repetitive and stale.

Avatar image for csl316
csl316

16049

Forum Posts

765

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 7

Edited By csl316

Control rules. It's one of those games that I felt completely immersed in.

Since I know the DLC's are coming, it's nice to know that it'll stick with me until those are complete.

And hurrah, written reviews. Perfect for reading through during lunch.

Avatar image for biddy
Biddy

287

Forum Posts

86

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 3

Great review!

Avatar image for sirpsychosexy
SirPsychoSexy

1658

Forum Posts

15

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 8

Always glad to see more reviews. I had fun with the game, but eventually grew tired of the combat and felt the story ended in a very unsatisfying way leaving me a bit less hot on it than Jeff.

Avatar image for jred250
jred250

158

Forum Posts

161

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Yay! A written review! I love Jeff's and Brad's writing style. I thought written reviews were done, but I am happy to be wrong.

Avatar image for hiimzev
hiimzev

102

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Finally, I love GB written reviews. Thanks for the read

Avatar image for nillock
Nillock

34

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

The first opening salvo for GOTY deliberations has been fired.

Avatar image for ravelle
Ravelle

3472

Forum Posts

1

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 6

Control had me in conflict with myself, on hand it's one of my favorites and loved everything about it but I also got very frustrated because of constantly running back from checkpoints after a lost encounter, dying from clunky platforming/camera work and being killed in a couple of hits even after maxing out my health.

Avatar image for vectortheangel
VectortheAngel

185

Forum Posts

32

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 1

Will there be a separate podcast version of the review?

Avatar image for extremenoisedan
extremenoisedan

5

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I'm surprised how this game managed to feel like a TV show or a movie without monotonous cutscenes and expository dialogue, I'm fascinated.

Also, great article Jeff, solid review.

Avatar image for alekso
alekso

142

Forum Posts

802

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

Short but great review Jeff. Echoing everything i feel about Control. My strong frontrunner for GOTY.

Avatar image for avantegardener
avantegardener

2458

Forum Posts

165

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 11

Nice to see a bit of long form written critique.

Avatar image for dweep
dweep

168

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Too bad that Control has been a commercial fiasco.

Avatar image for vierastalo
VierasTalo

1443

Forum Posts

1030

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Yahoo, Satan!

Avatar image for instinct666
InStInCt666

71

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@taaltos: Oh Man i actually completely forgot Both these games came out this year!
Hahaha. I thought they didnt review any games this year, but completely forgot about these 2.
Oh well

Avatar image for lethial
lethial

13

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 1

Thank you for a great written review!

Avatar image for jarp12
Jarp12

181

Forum Posts

17

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

I miss the written reviews. thanks!

Avatar image for lingxor
Lingxor

487

Forum Posts

844

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 2

Some of the combat sequences towards the end were a little bit a chore, but the story, music, and characters made this special.

Avatar image for youeightit
youeightit

350

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I loved this game so much in the beginning but by the time i reached the end I was really sour on it. I thought everything about playing it just felt bad and a lot of the combat encounters felt poorly designed and super cheap at times. I didn't like the way the story played out either, which was the most disappointing thing because the story was the only reason I forced myself to finish a game I was no longer having any fun playing.

Avatar image for kiruvi
Kiruvi

68

Forum Posts

38

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

When they first showed the trailer for this at E3, @benpack mentioned that it looked like House of Leaves, and for what I've played so far I think that's a pretty fair comparison. I could easily see the house in that book being a hiss-infested corner of the Oldest House.

Avatar image for alpha_bit
alpha_bit

90

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@instinct666: Giant Bomb just does what they want, I think is the answer, haha.

Avatar image for briarpack
briarpack

422

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 4

You tell 'em papa Jeffrey!

Avatar image for dude559
Dude559

27

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@s5n8k3: This was literally my only complaint with the game as well. I can count on two hands how often I got confused with the verticality of the map - it could really benefit from a levels to cycle through in terms of Floors.

I honestly think the layout is fine, but if it were a 3D plane ala Metroid Prime allowing zoom in/out and rotation; we'd be able to discern it a lot better to the point of 100% clarity with which floor is where something is and where the stairs are to go to such area. If they had taken that approach it would have lessened the numerous headaches I had navigating The Oldest House.

Avatar image for bigtinz
BigTinz

13

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By BigTinz

Fantastic game! GOTY contender with Disco Elysium for sure. It does seem very odd that the magical service weapon can only take two forms at once. Gun combat would benefit greatly from being able to cycle between every form on the fly.

Always happy to see a written review from Jefe.

Avatar image for asteinhebel
Asteinhebel

9

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

It’s running fine on base PS4 now. Nothing for them to be particularly proud of, but absolutely playable - no more single digit frame rates. If you’re the sort of person who flips out when it drops to 24 FPS for 30 seconds maybe don’t play it, otherwise it’s nothing prohibitive now.

Avatar image for drrobotnikx
DrRobotnikX

22

Forum Posts

121

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 32

Edited By DrRobotnikX

@instinct666: I assume if a staff member feels a game is something special they want to reward it with a review. GB are journalists so it’s in their nature to review products, Jeff just chose to review it in text as well as video/audio.

Avatar image for inevpatoria
inevpatoria

7743

Forum Posts

2136

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 6

Edited By inevpatoria

Really missed these written reviews.

I need to play this game.

Avatar image for basketsnake
BasketSnake

1821

Forum Posts

48

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 1

If you're done with the game, you're out of control!

Avatar image for big_denim
Big_Denim

994

Forum Posts

30

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 6

User Lists: 1

Edited By Big_Denim

More reviews! Booya!

Avatar image for applegong
applegong

464

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Edited By applegong

No video component to the review?

Avatar image for crono11
Crono11

1688

Forum Posts

34

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 1

So happy to see reviews back. I love them anyway I can get them but those audio reviews were great and I would love for them to come back.

They can be used as spoilercasts too. Just at the end, give a minute break or an end song to separate the two.

I also loved Control and beat it as fast as I could doing everything in it....except maybe some of those random missions and maybe the controls....bit of irony there but despite all that, I loved everything about Control. There is something off with the story but I love so much about it I can look past it.

Great game, glad that I played it as soon as I did. One of the years bests games.

Avatar image for mrfluke
mrfluke

6232

Forum Posts

-1

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 2

Jeffs game of the year confirmed, definitely picking this up Black Friday

Avatar image for indieslaw
indieslaw

580

Forum Posts

141

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 1

Edited By indieslaw

Little confused, is there like a companion discussion video with this?