I initially planned to write this on November 25th, but life happens. Coincidentally, both games have been further updated by and/or recieved expansions. This does not matter to me. I will review based on what I experienced at the time. Game developers should take the time and delay if needed to create a near perfect vision of their creation. Unless I’m a cheapskate and wait for a sale a year down the line, at which point there’s been plenty of updates. Not the case for Fallen Order, was the case for Control.
Control is a masterpiece of a game, told with perfect craftsmanship of third person shooter rpg games at their best. I played it on a base PS4 and combat only struggled at the absolute most chaotic moments but because I had become well attuned to the game’s systems by then, I could still see and envision what I had planned to do. And therefore in those moments, when the framerate would slow to a crawl for a breath, I could still make commands and finish the fight with barely a scratch. Fallen Order struggled to even load in if I ran too far ahead, and would often send me falling through the map. Or I’d reach a narrow hallway and freeze up; and a door would materialize. Or said door materialized on top of me, and I fall through the map floor. Fights were filled with janky animations or enemies stuck in a T-pose. Beat a boss stuck like that. The worst T-post bug of all was when I discovered a hidden area and workbench but Cal got stuck in that aforementioned bugged pose and I did not receive it (double saber upgrade). Happened again the second time. Finally unlocked it at the third planet at which point I had already done quite a bit. Wished I had it a bit sooner.
Control excelled in the sense of making you feel like a god, utilizing a good progression system that slowly made you better and better unless you were already skilled at shooters. If that’s the case, then it feels like they did a great job at holding back that tidal wave feeling of “let me destroy things” while simultaneously providing you with plenty of action and the hidden possibilities which could reward you with hidden weapons and better loot. The metrovania type gameplay, which I like to say it feels more like Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time gameplay, allows the player to go where they want while still having a linear sense of main quest line. The side quests offer hidden rewards and better upgrades. Fallen Order had the idea in place but it feels like they were told to scrap the microtransactions but they still had all these animations, so they put them in as the cosmetic rewards found in hidden areas and chests. The aforementioned double saber and other upgrades are found alongside the main quest line and anything else that is hidden is merely a cosmetic except for a few easily found stat upgrades. It is not worth the time unless you want to gloat about achievements or feel slightly more healthy – not like it changes how fast you die. It also has that Metrovania/LoZOoT feel and it does feel immersive and rich and inviting. However, it immediately loses its appeal during combat when things don’t turn out as they should due to either input lag or bugs. Such as Cal not rolling in time or getting caught on a pixel of something blocking said roll. Pressing for heal and Cal speaking plus doing the animation and bd-1 replying but then not actually getting healed. Then having to get away again, and try the process again. The parry animation requires me to be psychic because even knowing when the enemy is gonna attack, I can’t be sure Cal will actually parry in time or still be getting ready. Dark Souls 1/2/3, or Bloodborne, even Witcher 3 never had it this bad at trying to counter. It plays like a PS2 game but nowhere near as good as Jedi Outcast or Jedi Academy. It did do well with the sense of becoming better and slowly more powerful. I just wish they did more with it.
Visually Control is absolutely beautiful and creepy and haunting. It also very eerie at times. The lack of music and only hearing your own footsteps causes you to constantly look behind you in game, and in real life – especially if you play at night. The soundtrack is one of my favorites this year. I particularly enjoyed Poets of the Fall’s fake band/alter in-game band Old Gods of Asgard. Fallen Order also was equally beautiful and haunting, and scary at times. The sense of nearly instantly dying, two hits usually. I tried jedi grandmaster but that was insanity so I played it on Jedi Knight. Everything was smooth sailing until I ran afoul of an iceberg in the middle of a calm sea. All the bosses were easy(ish) and required semi-psychic guesses/skill/eventual memorization. That is until near end game, when you run across a typical good guy turned bad seeking power boss and the man just wipes the floor with you. Ten tries later and you start to doubt your skills. “Did I fluke every other enemy and boss? No, this ain’t right.” Eventually get a parry in. This is the moment I realized the parry animation window was easy to press but the timing was so slow, I had to try to preemptively press the button. Shamelessly, I dropped the difficulty to Story mode. And the boss felt like the other bosses on Jedi Knight difficulty. After the fight, I put it back. Both games I play a style of dodge and then attack. It works well.
I didn’t mention much about Control‘s combat because saying anything other than it’s amazing and creative and fluid would spoil it. Saying anything descriptive of the game is a spoiler. That is how the story of it is designed. It is one of my favorite stories for a video game. To say anything would not be good for the potential player. I can say the difficulty is hard to start but once you conquer your fears and learn to control your fears (see what I did there), then the game gets easier. Slow down and pace yourself. There is a set amount of enemies every time and a sound effect plays when you’ve killed them all. Fallen Order also has a set amount of enemies for a map but they reset if you heal at a mediation spot. Dodging for days is the best form of combat and making sure to strike from the back. When sufficiently skilled up, you slow a blaster or rocket shot and then pull the shooter of said shot and hold them in front of the shot. Remember Cal, you are a good guy. Hear a guy give a speech about how he’s waiting years to fight a worthy opponent, and then draws his weapon only to be force pushed off the cliff. Fool didn’t realize Cal ain’t worthy. We are totally a good guy character.
Ultimately, both are good games but Fallen Order is stricken with a need to severely overhaul or update combat. Humans need to be dismembered as well or you can stop calling it a light saber. Let me use one of those fancy electric weapons. Anyways, Control is the better game to play. You’ll be immersed from the getgo and not get pulled out due to bugs or frustration. If you think ahead and carefully before entering any rooms, you can see how a fight might play out – where you can hide.
TLDR; Fallen Order is a good game marred by bad choices and inexplicable design ones too. Control is a masterpiece of third person rpg games. One needs updates to get better, the other has had them.