Control Ultimate Edition begins with a lot of loaded questions, and you get answers that slowly reveal itself over the dozen or so hours it takes to complete. You play as Jesse Faden, a woman who enters the Federal Bureau of Control looking for her brother who was kidnapped by the U.S. government agency when they were children. Within minutes, the Director of the agency shoots himself in the head as she is outside his office, and she becomes the new Director after picking up his shape-shifting gun, appointed by a mysterious entity called the Board.
What commences is a third-person action adventure game that provides a fun playground to use various psychic abilities against the uncommon setting of a 1960s office building that harbors many secrets.
Control came out originally in 2019 and quickly wracked up praise and a number of game award nominations and wins. Nearly two years later, it's finally on Stadia. While it may not be the best possible version, the game still runs well on the cloud-based gaming platform, making it yet another great way to experience this new classic.
At a glance
Control Ultimate Edition on Stadia
Bottom line: Control Ultimate Edition is an incredibly detailed game between the setting, story, weapon upgrades, and psychic abilities, making it a must-play for any Stadia player.
- Fast, frenzied combat
- Gripping story
- Fun psychic powers and upgrades
- Excellent art design
- High framerate mode graphics a little flatter than on other platforms
- Expensive for a two-year-old game
Control Ultimate Edition: Gameplay, story, and presentation
|Title||Control Ultimate Edition|
|Genre||Action Adventure, Third-Person Shooter|
|Release Date||July 27, 2021|
Control deals with a lot of fringe science topics such as alternative dimensions and normal everyday objects that contain world-altering powers. This also includes the building itself. The building might look like a 1960s office building with brutalist design, but it too has been warped by otherworldly elements.
Most of the story is told through conversations with excellent performances, alongside collectibles such as files, audio logs, and full-motion video. This is a Remedy Entertainment game, so it contains a healthy dose of FMV. For example, one video series stars a scientist who pretty much explains every scientific aspect that the agency deals with throughout most of the game. Another features puppets.
Many benign-looking objects in the building have also been affected. The first of the empowered objects is Jesse's Service Weapon, a pistol that is your main weapon in the game. The gun can be upgraded over the course of the game with different forms that give it charged shots, machine gun rate of fire, short range pellets, or a piercing shot. Over time, the upgrades change up the strategy of the game and how you take out enemies.
The main enemies of the game are office workers that have been possessed by the supernatural entity known as the Hiss, and the gunplay against them is serviceable. The main feature of the game, however, is the various psychic powers that can used against them such as launching any object or body within reach, raising the floor up as a shield, levitating, and mind control.
The combat becomes more fast-paced as you gain more abilities because the game ups the enemy difficulty, and it's easy to be swarmed by enemies. Combat requires dashing around and using the environment to your advantage, especially against the shielded and boss types that can take a lot of shots. Both the gun and abilities can be upgraded with mods such as increased damage or decreasing your energy use.
Control is not an especially difficult game as long as you keep upgrading, but it was always fun to walk into a room and immediately fling some drywall at a poor, demented office worker. Although, I mostly used the launcher and levitating abilities to zip around the room and throw everything at everybody. It was more efficient than spending energy taking cover or mind-controlling enemies in the heat of battle.
The biggest challenges in the game, which caused me to die a few times, were the optional boss fights and the optional timed expedition missions. I also got lost a few times in the sprawling office building that spans multiple floors even with a full-sized map, but the game is great with offering shortcuts after exploring an area for the first time thanks to plenty of fast travel points.
If the game does prove to be too difficult, it does contain an assist mode that allows players to tweak variables such as recovering energy and ammo faster, damage reduction, and auto-aim on enemies. There are also toggles for immortality and one-hit kills if you would rather enjoy the story and explore without the extended fight sequences.
Control is an excellent game with an interesting story and fun, physics-based combat, but may be a little steep at $40 for a two-year-old game. However, it is the Ultimate Edition of the game, which comes with both The Foundation and AWE expansions. Both expansions clock in at almost two hours each, and are not exactly necessary to the main game.
The Foundation expansion takes place after the main game and adds the ability to raise and destroy crystalline structures only in the expansion's new area, and the AWE expansion is a tie-in to Remedy's own Alan Wake franchise. It was fun to see Alan Wake narrate over a different game and have it fit, but it's only worthwhile if you were familiar with the 2010 Xbox 360 and PC title.
Control Ultimate Edition is a solid experience if Stadia is your only gaming platform, but it has been heavily discounted in the past if you have a capable PC or console.
Control Ultimate Edition: Stadia performance and features
The Stadia version of Control offers two performance presets: High Framerate and Graphics. High Framerate runs the game at a 1080p resolution at 60FPS while Graphics increases it to 4K resolution but at 30FPS. I was not able to test the Graphics option since it requires a 4K display, but it would also presumably require a Stadia Pro subscription to unlock streaming at 4K resolution.
The High Framerate option did indeed stay at a near-consistent 60FPS, which is crucial to the fast-paced combat and movement. There is a stutter when transitioning from menus to gameplay, but that also occurred when I tested the PC version from the Microsoft Store.
The High Framerate option did indeed stay at a near-consistent 60FPS, which is crucial to the fast-paced combat and movement.
Of course, your milage for smoothness may vary depending on your connection. According to a Speedtest of my Verizon Fios connection, I had an average download speed of 57Mbps and an average upload speed of 63Mbps. Google recommends at least a 10Mbps download speed for 720p streaming, 20Mbps download speed for 1080p streaming, and at least a 35Mbps download speed for 4K streaming.
The graphics don't take that severe of a hit to support the framerate, as most of the game is a series of bold colored offices, gray hallways, boardrooms, and mechanical rooms. Some of the softer shadows seem to have been removed, but it is only noticeable under fluorescent lights. The extremely bright lights can make objects look washed out and turn Jesse completely pale. Though cutscenes of two people have conversations close up are seemingly not affected.
Control Ultimate Edition: Should you buy it?
Control might be a two-year-old game at this point, but it's still an excellent third-person shooter with an interesting and sprawling setting, fast-paced gameplay, and solid performances. If you missed Control the first time around and are all-in on Stadia, this is one of the best Stadia games and a must-buy. You get the main game, plus the two DLC for even more weirdness.
However, it does cost $40, which is a bit steep for a game this old, especially when you can get it for cheaper on other platforms. If Stadia is your platform of choice, you'll have a good time, but if you have access to another platform, you might want to head elsewhere.