Building Off a Good Foundation
I am totally unashamed to admit that Control was my favorite game of last year. It's one of those titles I honestly knew I would enjoy from the first time I saw it, but was still blown away by how much I really did. The first expansion, The Foundation, is here and I was more than ready to step back into the game's world. Will I find that it's just as great as when I left it or has Control lost something special with time?
Taking place after the main campaign, you'll once again step into the shoes of Jesse Faden. She's now the director of the FBC, but things still aren't great. She discovers that the Hiss have invaded The Foundation under The Oldest House, Marshall has gone to try and stop them by herself but has gone missing, and The Board and The Former are fighting a weird proxy war over a mysterious relic known as the Nail. Naturally, this all means she has a long day ahead of her. While it may not take the exciting twists and turns of the original campaign, The Foundation does a pretty great job of fleshing out several plot points from the original game that players were likely curious about.
Red Sand and Red Blood
The expansion takes you to the cave system underneath The Oldest House. Much like the original game, the setting feels just as much as a character as any of the people. The caves are a weird mismatch of actual caves, sections of the Astral Plane, and complete rooms from the FBC awkwardly transplanted into cave passages. The perfect match of weird yet familiar. Combine this with crystals that grow and shatter at random, and you got something totally worth exploring.
Outside of the new setting, the other major addition comes in a trio of new powers. One, added as free DLC so you can use it even if you don't get The Foundation, is the Shield Rush. It allows Jesse to dash while using the shield, turning herself into a giant battering ram. Sending enemies flying from each hit is hilariously entertaining, and this is a welcome addition to the arsenal, especially since the new enemy type added in The Foundation is melee-focused.
The other two powers are called Shape and Fracture. Both allow you to interact with the crystals in the cave, letting you either grow them out of the ground or destroy them. On one hand, you can use this to set traps for enemies, letting you impale them with crystal spikes or destroy a platform out from under them, something that always manages to be fun. On the other hand, both powers are completely context-sensitive. You can only use them in specific points in the DLC, which means you can't take them to the rest of the game with you. It doesn't feel like it fits with any of the other powers in Control, and as cheesy as it sounds, it doesn't make you feel like you're in control.
Your New Worm-Shaped Friend
Despite the new powers and setting, the rest of The Foundation is basically just more Control. That's not a bad thing, mind you. Control was already a fantastic game, and The Foundation takes those awesome foundations (oops, I did it again) and keeps them strong as ever. There are some fantastic new quests that have you partaking in various entertaining activities. One requires you to navigate a plane of reality that's barging into another, making for a messy mash-up of several settings. Another puts you on a moving platform in a neon-soaked high-speed dramatic chase that plays closer to something out of Sayonara Wild Hearts, right down to a change to an electronic soundtrack.
However, playing it so safe feels off for Control. It was never really a game about playing it safe. Control seemed to do plenty of risky and often insane things, and The Foundation doesn't quite live up to that reputation. Sure that aforementioned high-speed chase is great, but I also couldn't shake off the feeling that it felt like it was trying to remind me of the Ashtray Maze segment from the main game rather than stand up on its own.
There's also one part of Control that didn't improve as much as I would hope: the performance on a base PlayStation 4. While it's certainly way better than it was at launch, there's still noticeable slowdown in the bigger fights, especially if there's many enemies or physics-based objects involved. There's also an extremely noticeable 5+ second pause while exiting the pause menu, something that really annoyed me several times. Hopefully, it keeps seeing improvements.
Control: The Foundation Review | Final Thoughts
The Foundation is more Control. If you enjoyed Control, you will enjoy The Foundation. If there was nothing in Control that captured your attention, the same can be said about The Foundation. It's that simple. I had a lot of fun with this expansion, but I'm also hoping that the upcoming AWE will be more willing to take the risks that The Foundation isn't quite doing. Maybe it'll even leave me in awe.
Three puns in one review. I'm out of control.
TechRaptor reviewed Control - The Foundation on PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by the publisher. The DLC is also available on PC and will be available on Xbox One in June.
- Interesting New Story
- Great Setting
- Some Fantastic Missions
- It's More Control
- Plays it a Little Too Safe
- New Powers Can Only be Used in Specific Locations
- Still Has Performance Issues