is what people call a ďtactical RTS.Ē What this means is that you donít have to deal with the micromanagement of buildings and resource collection that you do with your traditional RTS. Donít let that fool you into thinking that Ground Control
is a simple game, however -- itís not. Only shrewd thinking and good tactical decisions will keep you from getting your butt kicked on the higher difficulty levels, and careful configuration of your troops before sending them down on drop-ships can make a world of difference.
You start out the game as Sarah Parker, working for the Crayven Corporation and leading an assault on the Order of the New Dawn. Soon after starting the game, youíll be presented the option to stick with Crayven, or finish the game from the ďother sideĒ as it were, playing in the Order of the New Dawn. The units are quite similar, with differences more like the Arm and the Core from Total Annihilation than the three races in StarCraft. There are basically a few different classes of units, such as infantry or aerodyne (flying units), and each class has two or three variations on the theme. This allows for different types without the almost-humorous overkill of Total Annihilation, although a few different unit types would have been nice. Before each mission, you are presented with a briefing that tells you your starting objectives for that sortie, and you are allowed to customize just who you bring along. How you load your drop-ships can make a serious difference in the way the battles turn out, so pay attention.
The game itself is true 3D. The camera, although a touch confusing at first, soon becomes absolutely second nature, and youíll find yourself getting up close and personal with your troops and then zooming out for an over-reaching view of the action. This is done amazingly well, and should definitely be used as an example of a good 3D interface.
The battles themselves are very nice, with many factors coming into play -- line-of-sight, friendly fire, and even how dark the location of your units is. The darker the location means the harder it is for the enemy to shoot you. Zoom in close and watch the muzzle flares, and youíll start thinking that youíre really there. Enemies will pop in and out of view, depending on your line of sight, so itís often a good idea to keep a close watch at all angles to see if someone new is stepping on your toes.
The one major flaw of the game, and itís a biggie, is that you canít save in the middle of a mission. Iíve had to quit to go somewhere or because my computer spazzed, and had to start a long, arduous mission over again. Itís a serious pain in the ass, but thankfully, the game is enjoyable enough to make up for it.
Ground Control may not be the most unique RTS, but itís a terribly gorgeous and enjoyable romp.