Control Ultimate Edition - One Of The Best Console Ray Tracing Implementations Yet?
Control Ultimate Edition - One Of The Best Console Ray Tracing Implementations Yet?

Control Ultimate Edition comes to PS5 and Xbox Series X | S accompanied by all the DLC and a series of graphic improvements (ray tracing, 60fps) that make it one of the best looking games on consoles. But is it worth checking out again? 

After surprising us with its paranormal action, Control arrived on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X | S on the 2nd of February. It also does so with an edition that includes all the downloadable content Control Ultimate Edition. This same edition is available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC since August 2020, with the difference that on the new consoles the successful Remedy game benefits from a graphic upgrade. And it comes, too, surrounded by some controversy, because if we buy the game and its DLC (or the season pass) separately, we have to buy Control Ultimate Edition again to enjoy the next-gen improvements. The only way to benefit from a free upgrade to the PS5 and Series X | S versions is by purchasing the Ultimate Edition for PS4, Xbox One, and PC; otherwise, you’d have to pay about 40 pounds again.

The big question is: is it worth paying for Controller again on PS5 and Xbox Series X | S? Are the graphical improvements that this edition offers on the next-gen machines up to par? All that and much more, in our review of the Control Ultimate Edition.

Welcome to the Oldest House

In case you don't know, Control is the latest work from Remedy Entertainment, the Swedish studio responsible for games like Max Payne (1 and 2), Alan Wake (one of my favourite games ever), and Quantum Break. And it is also the project in which we can best appreciate the strengths of Remedy, and specifically of those three games: highly refined third-person shooters, a setting that shines with its constant aura of mystery and technological flair.

The great protagonist of Control is the FBC, or the Federal Bureau of Control, a secret organization that is dedicated to studying all the paranormal events that take place in the world: floppy disks that grant the power of telekinesis, motels that serve as crossings to access to other dimensions, astral planes, refrigerators that hide dark secrets, rubber ducks that are not what they appear and a very long etcetera.

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Betting so much on the mystery and the unknown also serves as an excuse to embrace the “new weird” genre. The first hours of Control are indecipherable, with characters, dialogue, and situations that would seem to be written by David Lynch, especially when you meet the mysterious Ahti, the custodian of the Immemorial House who speaks in a cryptic and slow way. But if we are willing to invest our time, if we pay attention and let Control surround us with its thousand stories, it manages to absorb us in an amazing way.

But if we collect each document, file, or research record and devour each one of the extremely awesome and immersing live-action videos of Trench, Darling, and the Children of the Threshold, Control manages to build around us one of the richest and most exciting universes in recent years. And that's not to mention that if you decide to skip the optional missions or if you B-line the story, you are going to miss some of the best moments of the entire adventure, sometimes being confrontations against surprising bosses or a silly pair of cat ears. Both equally as intriguing.

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Despite all the good we can say about its universe, it must also be made clear that it is not entirely original: Control is heavily inspired by SCP Foundation, a constantly growing fan-created project that simulates an organization tasked with locating and containing individuals, entities, locations and objects that violate the laws of nature. The similarities are obvious, and there are so many, that we could almost say that Control is the unofficial adaptation of the SCP Foundation. Not that I’m complaining, I mean, SCP could keep me reading for days on end. But that's the least of it because the seed that Remedy has planted is so interesting and the length of its roots are so enormous, that the weird thing would be if they aren't already working on Control 2 or after the amazing “AWE” DLC, maybe a sequel to a different Remedy game.

In addition to all of this, not only does the voice acting immerse you into the world of control with its amazing quality but it’s also a tribute to the history of Remedy. Director Trench is none other than James McCaffrey, the unforgettable original voice of Max Payne, while Darling is Matthew Porretta, the voice of Alan Wake. Finally, we have Jesse, the protagonist who is played by actress Courtney Hope, and who you may remember for being the voice and face of Beth in Quantum Break.

Take Control

Let's get to the meat... the improvements of Control Ultimate Edition on next-gen consoles. The first thing I want to make clear is that I’ve been using the Playstation 5, so all the captures and videos that you see belong to that version. From the display options, and at any time during the game, we can choose between two different modes: performance and graphics. The first, as its name suggests, bets on a higher rate of images per second, managing to maintain 60fps at all times, this maintains a graphical quality that is also improved compared to the base PS4 version.

In graphics mode, the performance drops to 30fps, but in return, we gain an even higher graphic quality. And what is more important is the name of the game: Ray Tracing. This visual technique is giving a lot to talk about, and precisely the PC version of Control was one of the first games to show a great implementation of ray tracing.

Remedy has successfully adapted ray tracing to the next-gen version of Control. When activating the graphics mode, we can appreciate how any surface susceptible to reflecting light, be it metals, liquids, crystals, or marble, acquires reflections that change depending on the type of material, the lighting of the environment, or the angle from which we observe them, reaching a high level of fidelity and giving the scene a greater realism.

Here is a comparative gallery of images with and without ray tracing:

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And let's not forget that Control is already a very powerful game visually, with super-detailed character models, architecture with a striking brutalist style, and destruction of scenarios -at the mercy of a worked physics system- that is simply at your fingertips. The latter causing the game to go down to the low 20s or even high 10s when it comes to FPS.

The only downside we can put in this regard is that Control Ultimate Edition looks too dark. I thought it could be my TV (some badly calibrated setting), but going back to the original PS4 version, I verified that it’s simply an issue with the Ultimate Edition. In this next-gen version, low-light areas are a lot darker than they used to be, causing me to not see a single thing when I simply walked into a darkish office.

It is a shame that the sacrifice must be made to activate this mode because Control is the kind of game where the difference between 30 and 60fps is very noticeable, but with ray tracing, we are talking about one of the most visually spectacular games that we can find today for today on next-gen consoles. Below is another example of the exemplary work Remedy did with their implementation of Ray-Tracing.

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Finally, we have a significant reduction in loading times, which never exceed five or six seconds, something that is very appreciated, especially when you die as the loading times on the last-gen version felt like an absolute eternity. Control Ultimate Edition has also adapted quite correctly to the benefits of the DualSense, being able to appreciate a slight pulsation with each step that Jesse takes or different effects of vibration and adaptive response of the triggers with each of the forms of the service weapon.

It’s shame that people who bought the originals can’t simply get an upgrade (Thanks 505 Games) and that they will be forced to buy Control Ultimate Edition in order to appreciate the jump to next-gen because we are really talking about the version definitive game. 

However, as of the time of writing this article, If you have Playstation Plus, rejoice as Control Ultimate Edition is available with no extra cost until the 3rd of March. Take in mind that includes both the PS4 and the PS5 version, so if you don’t have the Playstation 5, you can simply redeem the game and wait for that eventual upgrade. So if you have already played it in the past generation of consoles, we only recommend them if you have PS plus or you are passionate about the most technological side of the world and you appreciate the graphical wonders. On the contrary, and if you have never played Control until now, you owe it to yourself to dive deep in the halls of the Oldest House and remember to read each document you find to fully enjoy the trip.

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