Having beaten it twice... (Gaming)

by Ragashingo ⌂ @, Official DBO Cryptarch, Saturday, August 31, 2019, 22:38 (318 days ago) @ cheapLEY
edited by Ragashingo, Saturday, August 31, 2019, 23:19

I enjoyed it a lot, but also have a few reservations.

First off, the good:

- This is a Remedy game. For all the work any other developer puts in to crafting their play spaces, Remedy blows them away. The Oldest House, which is the somewhat mysterious, somewhat paranormal building the Federal Bureau of Control calls home, is so well realized from the executive suite to the lowest bowels of the maintenance floors. Alan Wake and Quantum break were similarly realized, but Control tops them because of the insanely destructible environments.

You can't quite break everything you can see, but you can break a heck of a lot of it. Some of the most thrilling moments for me were being shot at by the lowest level guards with their burst fire SMGs and watching those shots rip apart windows, and wall segments, and desks, and book shelves, and even concert pillars down to their rebar cores. By the time a big fight is over, what were pristine, orderly office spaces now look like the crumbling security checkpoint after Neo and Trinity get into the elevator.

- The gunplay is good too. Like, really good. I played Gear of War 4 recently, and it wasn't nearly as fun as Control. Mass Effect: Andromeda isn't as fun as Control. Alan Wake feels bad next to control (though some of it is forgivable given the innovative flashlight tactics) and Quantum Break feels like you just can't believe you missed that many shots at that range, where as Control always lets you feel in c...harge. My favorite weapon combo was using the Service Weapon's SMG-like Spin mode and it's railgun-like Pierce mode. I had an easy to use bullet hose for close range work and a shield piercing low-zoom sniper for tough and distant enemies. But, the game also lets us shift the Service Weapon to perform the roles of an accurate hand cannon, a shotgun, and a rocket launcher.

- Control's powers are good, too! Pick the best powers and gameplay from things like Mass Effect and Bioshock and remove all most all of the sticking points and gotchas and you get Control. Every power is easy to use and generous in both effect and limitation. For instance, in a game where you often pick up objects and throw them at enemies, what do you think would happen if there were no objects to pickup nearby? Other games, you just won't be able to use that power. In Control, you get a brilliant animation where you rip off a piece of the floor or wall, meaning you are never out of "ammo." Or take Control's Levitation ability you earn roughly half way in. In other games, once you run out of energy or flying time, you'd probably drop to your doom. In Control, you gently drift downward in a very orderly manner with plenty of ability to steer yourself to a safe landing. When you combine Control's powers with the destructible environments, even just one thrown object can smash an office space to smithereens in the most fun way imaginable.

- The story and missions are interesting and unique and weird without trying to be too scary or creepy. In Control, the Federal Bureau of Control that you end up working for operates much like the Men in Black but with a bit more serious tone. There are essentially possessed objects that you have to cleanse, but they rarely go in a frightening or jump scare route. Mostly things are interestingly bizarre, but in a way that everyone can enjoy them. Most of what you do, see, and interact with also has one or more pages of backstory attached to it in the form of collectable files and documents scattered about. There are a good number of fun and interesting stories of the FBC containing objects and protecting normal civilians from the weirder things in the world.

- The core story and tone is kinda like the Men In Black mixed with the X-Files mixed with the Twilight Zone. It's strange and occasionally unexplainable things happen, but for the most part it all works. Plus, I like where it ends because it leaves things open for more.

- The solution to the maze was awesome. Probably my favorite part of the game.

Now, the not as good:

- Performance on an original Xbone is kinda terrible. Bringing up your menu causes the game to stutter both before the menu appears and for a couple of seconds after you put the menu away. Sometimes, the map just sorta doesn't load. And on big fights were rockets and desks and enemies and sparks and paper are all flying every which way, the frame rate can drop to absurdly low numbers. I'm looking forward to next year where hopefully the Scarlett makes this game play and look great. On PC it apparently is brilliant. The massive amount of stuff that can be destroyed and sent flying in the midst of a battle is impressive even on Xbone, it's just the game drops down to 720p and 2fps at times. My Xbone also had a strange habit of not being able to play back Control's video segments reliably. Some cutscene with video elements essentially froze on me, which is crazy given I'm running off of a fast SDD!

- Here's my controversial take: As good as the world building and weird plot is in Control, I think it's story is the least impressive of the three Remedy games I've played. For all the good points of Control's setting and story, it has very few characters and very few of them are that interesting. In Alan Wake, we had Barry, Alan's crazy agent, and the mad doctor getting artists to channel their creations through black magic, and the radio host, and the police girl, and so many other great characters. Even in Quantum Break, the main character and secondary characters like the college girl or cab driver dude were more interesting than just about anyone in Control. In Control, everyone is just a bit too straightforward, they stay too much in their lanes, they don't really have a lot of emotional depth or even believability.

Control also pales in the character and cutscene animation departments compared to something like Quantum Break. For the most part, Control's cutscenes are really just your character Jesse and the character you are talking to standing or sitting nearby and the camera, at most, cutting from one to the other. There's surprisingly little spectacle or cinematography in Control. And there should be some of that given the paranormal forces and high stakes involved in the story!

The setting for control is brilliantly realized through Remedy's untouchable environments and strong collectable documents doing some good world building. The characters and story of Control... are just sorta there. Control certainly doesn't have a bad story. It's not badly written or cheesy or stupid or even incomplete. If nothing else, it just feels very paired back compared to Alan Wake and Quantum Break. And that makes me just ever so slightly disappointed. I like this game and this world a lot, but I wished that I could have liked it even more.

- I'll probably think of more later! Oh... the mirror esseJ fight was a lot of fun. It is really hard to make a player-level enemy both fun and challenging to fight. They did about as good a job as can be done to make esseJ a match for the player. I enjoyed that part a lot.

Other stuff:

- Is it just me, or can every mode of the Service Weapon be upgraded except Pierce?

- While I didn't notice any real links to Quantum Break, Control did have several good links back to Alan Wake. Notably: The FBC investigated the Bright Falls incident. They even recovered a page from Alan Wake himself detailing his endless fate trapped in the lake. The FBC is also responsible for the Twilight Zone-ish Night Falls tv series. Essentially, Control reframes the events of Alan Wake as just one of many, many "Altered World Events" which is both really cool, and maybe just slightly sad that Alan Wake's story isn't as bizarre and unique anymore since the FBC sees events like it all the time.

- The song that plays during the Ashtray Maze is "Take Control" by Old Gods of Asgard. This is super significant, as we met two of the members of that band in Alan Wake and their song "Children of the Elder Gods" is what played during the awesome rock concert you have on stage as people possessed by the Darkness rush you on stage. At the very least, the existence of the Old Gods of Asgard helps further tie Control and Alan Wake into the same shared universe. There are some theories that all of Alan Wake is just the song / writing of Tor and Odin Anderson made manifest by the darkness trapped within the lake. That could add a new spin on their music being involved in Control.

- Some may find it tedious, but I really enjoyed Jesse's brief Hiss possession as an office worker. Not only was she in the role that her brother saw her in, her determination to break out of it was fun. I also like when developers force story points on players as long as they do so in a limited fashion. The segment here was just about perfect in length. Especially if you know you only have to do the three task one time each and then maybe one task a second time.


I enjoyed Control a lot. Enough to play it twice back to back. I think it's environments are just completely unmatched in all of gaming, it's world building is well above average, and its story got the job done, but didn't do much more than that. It's gameplay is pretty great and while generally easy, it makes you feel powerful and does have the occasional challenging boss fight. But, on a straight up emotional and cinematographic level, I don't think Control comes close to matching games like Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice or the new God of War. There's just not enough emotion, or acting, or animation to really place it among the best of the best of the best, for me. It is very solid, but is a step down from even Remedy's previous two games in terms of story.

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