Review: Control is the best remedy game to date – and a masterpiece of ray tracing



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<img src = "https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Control_Screenshot_11-800×450.png" alt = "That's what it looks like (and feels) like playing the telekinetic madness from The Last Remedy Entertainment Game, Control. "/>
Enlarge / That's what it looks like (and looks like) playing the telekinetic madness of Remedy Entertainment's latest game, Control.

Entertainment Remedy

It's been years since players of a certain age and some persuasion expect this: a video game from Remedy Studios that looks like a worthy successor to the production of the studio in 2001 Max Payne. The Finnish studio has been trying for years to succeed, but with less importance for Deputyof Matrix– like a fight at the ball and more emphasis on battles that change dimension, memorable characters and serious plot.

If you've enjoyed the developer's attempts over the last ten years, including: Alan Wake and Quantum break-Or even if you find these attempts close, but not quite-Control should land on your must – have mailing list before the end of the year. Consider its status on our end of year list as a given, despite some imperfections and failures.

And if you've paid for one of the latest PC-based Nvidia graphics cards, with a dedicated tracing chip, quickly move this must-have recommendation to "ASAP". Control is exactly the graphic realization of showcase that will alleviate the remorse of any buyer.

Throw away the boxes, sip Jesse's juice

Control takes its name, albeit forgotten, from the fictitious American agency of the game, the Federal Bureau of Control, or FBC. (Sorry, Janet Jackson fans.) This agency was created decades ago with the aim of containing, researching and possibly exploiting a supernatural discovery, which would make all of these Facebook groups blush with "Invade Area 51 ". In the opening minutes of the match, your hero, Jesse Faden, declares what she is doing at the doors of the FBC: she was the only survivor of the "ground zero" event of this agency when she was a kid and she went all the way to find the brother that she lost that day.

When she arrives, some mysteries remain unanswered, such as how she knew her brother could be here and why Jesse's face is depicted on the walls of the agency in the form of a portrait. (This is explained later, but I leave it vague for the moment as part of our spoiler-free cover.) But clearly, the FBC is waiting for Jesse and, conveniently, she quickly realizes that she's still had some powers in it. . She uses these powers to suppress the sudden and terrifying explosions within the BCF, all identifiable by glowing clouds and a chilling whisper of simultaneous and absurd voices. Upon her arrival, she is informed that she has been appointed head of the agency, as her leaders and research teams begin to disappear or, worse, succumb to the forces that transform them. in violent and metamorphosed monsters. (It's about a crazy power transition within an American agency, but I wonder if Remedy thought the angle seemed stranger in a more innocent political era.)

Taking advantage of this series of whispering voices and changing shapes (nicknamed "The Hiss"), Jesse begins to embrace her own supernatural powers, as she learns one by one while descending further and further into the belly. triumphant of the FBC. And her resulting arsenal of abilities makes her one of the coolest game superheroes we've seen in a while.

With respect to third-person combat mechanisms, the simplest point of comparison is Remedy. Quantum break, which revolved around the manipulation of time. Specifically, Jesse is on the side of telekinesis and material manipulation. She can use her mind to lift and throw most objects inside the FBC. In the blink of an eye, it can even destroy pieces of soil, ceiling or wall to use as deadly projectiles. Whatever the size of the object, Jesse can probably use his mind to launch it across the room. This is the coolest trick of the game: his gravity pistol, his Earthquake rocket launcher, sound Super Mario jump.

This power must be balanced with other kinetic abilities, all limited by a recharge "power" counter that empties when it is used. Finally, Jesse learns to do warp-jump, which works both as a dodge and a tricky way to fly. hypnotize his opponents so that they join his camp as fighters of limited duration; create a temporary protection shield while crossing a hazard; and more.

Jesse also packs heat in the form of the service weapon, a special pistol borrowed from the former head of the FBC. Jesse can use his powers to turn this gun into his own, into a shotgun, a machine gun, a rail gun and other weapons. As in Halo, only two forms of weapons can be defined at a time, but unlike Halo, these weapons draw on their own supply of "energy" ammunition, which is recharged regularly.

In practice, this juggling of two energy meters is one of the most phenomenal third person fights I have ever seen. Imagine this: A full plethora of enemies destroys Jesse's position in a gigantic, vertically organized battle arena, and each enemy has its own weapons, tactics and whimsical advantages (especially the wicked villains who easily dodge all thrown objects) . To succeed in combat, you must constantly avoid the enemies that appear in the fog and watch them, while alternating the firing modes of your gun and your supernatural flow of Jesse juice.

Those four enemies in front of you, rushing into a real row? Throw a table on them to knock them all out at the same time, then turn right to shoot a float before hurting a pomegranate creature on a balcony. Once you have weakened the enemy who launched it, if it is close enough to your position, you can hide behind a crumbling wall long enough to convert it into an ally so that it's not too late. it helps you end the rest of the offensive scrum. I've come across so many examples like this one, where I've always had the impression that the game was pushing my energy resources to the limit of my abilities to force me to make decisions crucial tactics while moving through various satisfying superpowers. No other action game Remedy, not even Max Payne-I felt this pleasure.

It looks great on all platforms, but ray tracing reigns

All this time, every thing you cast and project has a clearly visible effect on the structures and geometry around you, and the focus on destructible environments is met by a whirlwind of oily prism that floods the planet. Air when it is corrupted "Hiss" enemies explode. (I'll take this trippy effect on realistic body parts every day if it sounds so cool.) Even without her wild turmoil in combat, Remedy nails a pretty incredible aesthetic. The BCF is a professional and brilliant government facility, which is finally bombarded with endless and vertiginous ceilings, randomly warped walls (usually with striking geometric patterns) and the proliferation of seemingly organic stains.

Plus, if you've been playing a Remedy game for the last 13 years, you know that the studio likes to be able to freely borrow David Lynch's book, and without spoiling its weirdest moments and staging, I'll just say that the visual leaps of the game in logic fit perfectly into the story of another world of the game without seeming like a scam of Blue velvet or Twin peaks.

All this to say: if the performance is solid on the current game consoles, then you are already ready for a memorable moment. But we still do not have any impressions of the game on Xbox One or PlayStation 4 systems, so we do not know yet. Good news, our tests on Windows 10 were quite revealing … because we went to town with its ray tracing pipeline.

The gallery above includes captions and explanations for a moment series where I activated the game's ray tracing options at the game's "high" setting, then paused and captured at the same time with ray tracing completely disabled. In some cases, there is no noticeable difference, as much of the game has been built to be beautiful on all platforms. In particular, ray tracing effects will not give a room filled with concrete and other generic materials an appearance as different in terms of shade and light.

But as soon as players enter rooms with reflective surfaces and more diverse materials, the effect is absolutely striking. So much so that players are asked a fairly intense question about how to proceed: more ray tricks, or more pixels?

At the time of printing, only Nvidia's RTX series graphics cards include links to the DirectX 12 tracing pipeline, which limits your potential access to these ray tracing effects. In the case of Nvidia cards, allowing tracing of the rays immediately decreases the frame rate, apparently between 15 and 20 frames per second. This is where Nvidia's exclusive DLSS pipeline (deep learning super sampling) proves useful. This system uses a 3D rendering information auto-learning model to improve the game from a lower rendering resolution. In the case of Controlit's almost necessary to get ray tracing performance above the 60 fps threshold on respectable resolutions, depending on your graphics card.

In my case, I confirmed a frame rate hovering around 60 frames per second when I used a laptop version of the RTU 2070 GPU at the "1080p DLSS" resolution, which is ie a native 720p signal scaled to 1080p. I could easily be in the 70 fps range on my desktop system, powered by the RTX 2080 Ti at $ 1,199, when I set the ray tracing parameters to "high" (maximum) and selected a resolution "1440p DLSS" (Native 960p signal scaled). You want to go up to 4K? Even with an expensive card and a high-end DLSS card, you will have to make some serious options to get closer to the refresh at 60 ips (unless you do not use ray tracing).

Does DLSS have a higher resolution? Heck no. Screen captures do not tell this story because DLSS works effectively as a time anti-aliasing (TAA) and therefore fails the most when the game's camera moves. But in practice, the way light bounces, as modeled by a full ray tracing pipeline, is one of the most impressive things I've seen when rendering in real time over the years. The full-room scenes enjoy a feeling of weight and depth, and this lighting does not have the impression of being darkened, unlike the dramatic lighting model but iffy of Metro Exodus. The results are worth the degradation of the resolution. I would say that the resolution and effective performance with DLSS enabled were somewhere in the 1200p range – noticeably sharper than those in 1080p, and clearly did not match the perfect pixel for my Gsync 1440p display. On my laptop version of the RTX 2070, the actual resolution was 900 points, which is your average Xbox One game.

Lynchian for the best, Lynchian for the worse

When the game does not impress with phenomenally smooth fights, rich ray tracing effects or tricky puzzle-solving moments, Control also comes with a standard plot of Remedy Studios. It's jibberish, but it's rich.

Remedy is clearly intoxicating his vision of a federal agency of mad scientists. First of all, you will not find a much better implementation of full video in an action game than in Control. The studio's talent for FMV was teased in Alan Wake, then proved to be a stifling obstacle for the ambitious project Quantum break. The third time is the charm, apparently, because a series of video moments, mostly optional, are intelligently staged and inserted organically into the FBC. At least one of them refers to a connection to another Remedy game.

In the manner of BioShock, various text documents are scattered throughout the FBC offices and laboratories. Unlike Bioshock, however, these documents do a remarkably subtle job of defining clues and answers for the moments and scenes you will encounter later in the game. Moreover, they play generously with the talent of government agencies to write and hide passages of text – and it's easy to understand the inherent humor and satire when Remedy chooses this path.

The worst thing about Controls The intrigue attempts come from real-time conversations in the game, which often revolve around a sloppy facial animation – sometimes sneaking hideously into the mysterious valley – and sometimes d? a rigid dialogue. I have counted no less than a dozen moments that seemed to have been originally written in the Finnish language of the studio, and then translated automatically into English. In Remedy's defense, the studio makes a wink at this fact in the form of a casting decision. Concierge Ahti, a very odd doorman, slips between his native Finn and his delightfully torn English when he talks to Jesse, while issuing instructions that sound both disturbing and whimsical.

Good

  • Remedy offers some of the best third-person fighting games to date.
  • The ray tracing on compatible PCs looks so amazing that it is worth being downgraded to resolution.
  • The plot goes as strange and deep as the players might want between frantic action.
  • The supernatural and mysterious result of the plot is comparable to that of David Lynch, the strangest and most exuberant.

The bad

  • Beautiful visuals do not always extend to the strange valley of facial animation.
  • Efforts devoted to optional missions are not necessarily rewarded with useful benefits.
  • The supernatural and mysterious result of the plot is comparable to that of David Lynch, the strangest and most exuberant. (For some people, this is not a plus point.)

The ugly one

  • How much does it pay in 2019 for the Ray Traced version of this game to work effectively?

VerdictIf you are looking for an exhilarating action in the third person, buy it before the end of the year. If you have a PC graphics processor that supports DirectX 12 tracing, purchase it immediately.

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