Cloud gaming is still quite in its infancy in 2021. There are various companies working hard to bring cloud gaming to the masses, with the likes of Google’s Stadia and Microsoft’s XCloud trying to “lead” the way. It’s an interesting technology with quite a bit of promise. The major problem, at least in the United States, is that the technology runs into an internet coverage issue. In short, large parts of the US don’t have internet coverage at all, while other parts don’t have affordable high speed internet (something cloud gaming needs). Yet cloud gaming allows any device, in theory, the ability to play very complex games. Control: Ultimate Edition is an example of a complex, high quality game. The people over at Remedy decided to bring it over to Nintendo Switch, knowing that the only option would be a cloud version of the game. While it might not be people’s preferred way of playing Control on Switch, it’s an amazing experience you have to try out for yourself. (Note: All screenshots in this review were taken directly from the Switch cloud version of Control)
In our original review of Control, we said: “Control is another high-quality Remedy Entertainment offering jam-packed with impressive visuals, intense combat and a gripping plot. My only disappointment was its lack of any history, such as Jesse and Dylan’s upbringing, how the whole Hiss thing came around and how the force inside Jesse’s head came to be. I had more questions than answers, which chinks its armor of high production value and excellent action.” Control: Ultimate Edition includes the base game and its two expansion DLCs, The Foundation and AWE. For this review, we are focusing just on the Nintendo Switch version and the cloud tech behind it.
I’ve got to come out and say right away that I haven’t been a cloud gaming adopter. The idea is fascinating but, especially where I live, unrealistic. I’d much rather have a game disc or a digital download of my game. Yet when Control: Ultimate Edition was announced for Switch, I was immediately intrigued. Cloud gaming on Switch isn’t new, games like Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey all use cloud services in Japan. Control was the first game to use Switch’s cloud gaming service (made by cloud gaming company Ubitus) outside Japan. One thing I’m extremely happy to say is that you pay nothing up front. Knowing that the service is dependent on your internet connection, Nintendo has you download the game’s cloud app and try it out for 10 minutes. During this 10 minutes, the game is constantly in the background checking your internet connection to ensure you can play the game. After the 10 minutes, the app basically makes a decision based on that background work. If your internet is good, they allow you to proceed forward with buying the game. If your internet is poor, it strongly tells you that a purchase would be unwise (but it doesn’t outright stop you from buying it).
The game itself runs in either Quality mode or Performance mode. One mode allows you to play the game with high quality graphics and ray tracing at 30FPS or a high graphics mode running at 60FPS but no ray tracing. I decided I wanted to see all the bells and whistles and chose the ray tracing option, and I’ve got to say, I was blown away. The game looked absolutely stunning, and if it wasn’t for the Switch Pro Controller in my hand, I could have easily sworn that I was playing on a next level PC. Even more remarkable was the fact that I was playing this game from the cloud to my Switch. There were only a few instances when the game (or my internet) had a brief hiccup, which caused the game to stutter briefly. Otherwise, my playthrough of Control had no issues.
One issue with the cloud version of Control: Ultimate Edition is that the servers were slammed in the first few days after release. People were no doubt curious how the game was and how the service worked. What this meant for me was that I’d have to wait in a “lobby” for my turn. So many people were trying to get on the server that you actually had to be placed in a queue. I understand server capacity, and no doubt the people at Ubitus weren’t expecting that large of a number of people trying to get on all at once. Still, if I pay for a game (cloud-based or not), I want to be able to play it when I want. I don’t want to have to wait in line for my chance to play my purchased content. I can say, however, that this issue has largely been fixed since the game’s release.
The only issue I had with Control that has remained with the game is the audio de-syncing issue. The game looks and runs great, but every so often, the audio becomes out of sync. So, when I run through a door or shoot my gun, sometimes it takes a second or two afterwards for the audio to play. While not a deal-breaker, it is a bit of a mind-messing experience when a gun gets fired, no sound, and then a moment later while you’re running away, there’s a loud BANG! The issue doesn’t happen often, but it happened enough times during my playthrough that I felt it needed to be noted.
The real question is, is Control: Ultimate Edition on Switch’s cloud service worth the pickup? Yes, yes it is IF you have good internet. I was genuinely blown away from my experience with the game, having little gameplay issues with the title. The graphics were terrific, and playing through Control on Switch (in handheld mode especially) was a mind-blowing experience. Yes, it had its hiccups, and yes, because this is a cloud version of the game, I have to remain connected to the internet to play (slightly against what the Switch is made for). That said, if you only own a Switch and want to experience a fantastic game, then Control is totally worth the purchase. It might not be the preferred way to play Control on Switch, but a game like this might never have been possible on Nintendo’s machine without the cloud service.
Developer: Remedy Entertainment, Ubitus (Cloud Service)
Publisher: 505 Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 28th October 2020