Ground Control was a groundbreaking tactical RTS, although it isn't actually termed as an RTS - games like it are frequently referred to as RTT's, Real Time Tactical, for the fact that they eliminate any in-mission economy element and give you only the forces you started with to work through the mission. The shifts the focus of the gameplay to soundly employing what you have, rather than rushing more tanks. It was released as freeware to promote its sequel; get it here.The storyline involves two factions, the Crayven Corporation (aka. "Crays") and the Order of the New Dawn (aka. "Dawnies" or "The Order"), fighting for control of an extrasolar planet called Krig 7-B, in a vaguely Used Future setting where war has been outlawed on Earth since 2177, but conflicts continue to happen on distant human colonies such as Krig.The two campaigns - the first one in which the player plays as Crayven, and the second one as the Order - are sequential with the second's story following the first. Although it initially appears as if Crayven just wants to take over the planet to establish a One Planet Under Copyright, the protagonists soon learn the true reason as to exactly why they are fighting - both factions are trying to seize lostalien phlebotinum (called Xenofacts) with which they plan to exert control over all the colonies and even Earth itself. The Xenofacts would, upon total activation, unleash an army of ancient alien war machines which the Precursors had built to defend themselves in some war millions of years ago, but never got a chance to use. Any mistake or misunderstood detail during the activation would result in the inevitable eradication of humanity.Thanks to Major Sarah Parker (the player in campaign 1)'s campaign, Crayven nearly takes over the planet and forces the Order's cruiser to flee it's orbit. But the Order does not give up and, with the help of guerrilla attacks conducted by Paladin Magnus and Deacon Jarred Stone (the player in campaign 2), is able to bring in a second cruiser and counter-attack, leading to a stalemate with neither side getting anywhere.The Dark ConspiracyExpansion Pack adds a new faction, the Phoenix Mercenaries, former Crayven employees who decided to strike out on their own, working for the highest bidder. They have managed to come up with a sizable military using scrap metal given as payment. Major Parker is hired by the Order to eliminate a rogue faction of theirs called the Second Dawn with the help of the Mercenaries.The second game, Ground Control 2 : Operation Exodus, is based around two hundred years later. The corporations are gone, the order of the new dawn is probably gone as well, in its place is the Terran Empire (the bad guys), the Northern Star Alliance (the good guys) and the Viron Nomads (the freaky aliens). The plot revolves around the Terran Empire trying to take over the the Northern Star alliance's home world Morningstar Prime, and the Virons being used as a slave race.
Ground Control provides examples of :
All There in the Manual: the manual goes into a lot of detail regarding world history, the two factions, the two main characters Parker and Stone, and the various units and weapons at your disposal.
Amazon Brigade: The Order of the New Dawn's Templar units. Blonde hair, generous breasts, and skin-tight combat suits. Firing homing antitank missiles from launchers they carry on their backs, they can decimate whole coloumns of armour, and fast.
Artificial Stupidity: The game's AI is pretty simple-minded, although it probably isn't deliberate. It cannot control several squads in a coordinated manner, but rather has them sit idle or patrol on a pre-set path. Said squads will engage an opponent if they see one, or if they are aggroed by weapons fire. The AI has no concern whatsoever for preserving of it's units either, thanks to which the player can easily achieve incredibly skewed kill ratios in the campaigns (given that the AI needs a huge numerical advantage to put up a challenge).
Attack Drone: These are the main weapon of the Order's Orion drone carrier. The eight-legged bots are capable of traversing complex terrain to conduct non-line-of-sight attacks, tracking and chasing down enemy terradynes, and exploding when they get close to deal major damage. However, they cannot lock on to infantry, and cannot be used for suppressing fire.
Cosmetically Different Sides: Both factions have the same unit categories, like basic infantry, specialist infantry, scout vehicle, light/medium/heavy tank, artillery unit, fire-support unit, anti-air unit and recon/fighter/attack aerodyne. However, the 'equivalents' are always somewhat different and may have different advantages and disadvantages. The scale of this difference also varies - for example, Crusaders and Marines are nearly identical in function and use, while Templars and Jaegers have entirely different roles and abilities. Also, both factions have one unit to which the other has no equivalent - the Crayven Corp has its Condor bomber aerodyne, and the Order has its Orion drone carrier.
In general, the Order's units tend to do more damage because of their energy weapons, but have less armor, so they have to use hit-and-run tactics to survive against superior forces. Crayven's conventional weapons do less damage, but their terradynes have thicker armor that allows them to take the enemy head-on in a stand-up fight.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The 13th mission of the Order campaign, in which Deacon Stone(the player) must fight off endless hordes of enemy terradynes and try to defend his base. It culminates with Paladin Magnus holding a You Shall Not Pass to cover the player's retreat.
Also in the aptly named No Win Situation scenario in the Crayven campaign, where you're holding a Crayven base against a horde of Order units, and Hayes eventually has to send a whole brigade to assist you in holding back the Order hordes. Then the base is overrun anyway and the mission turns into a desperate escort mission with your surviving units fleeing for the alternative pickup zone through jungle thick with Order forces.
Deflector Shields: Most Order hoverdynes and aerodynes can be equipped with shields which have limited uses and can make units completely invulnerable for short (10 seconds) amounts of time.
Drop Ship: every campaign mission begins with the player dropping his or her units to the planet via one or more drop ships. Some missions require the player to leave the battlefield by dropship by making it to a pickup zone with their troops.
Easy Logistics: No fuel concerns. No ammunition concerns (except for special weapons). No fatigue, no morale issues. Rapid and unlimited repairs available from the APC and Deployable Repair Stations. And, although they're expendable, there are Medikits/Repair-kits which instantly heal 40% of a squad's HP. All in all, logistics is almost a complete non-issue in this game. No reinforcements either.
Enemy Mine: Near the end of the Order campaign, the two main protagonist teamed up after learning more about the goal of Project Garm and the xenofacts.
Energy Ball: Many of the Order units' weapons manifest as this.
Fragile Speedster: Scout units are one kind, which rely on stealth and speed, and die quickly if they are spotted. Aerodynes are another kind, which get ripped to shreds whenever they get too close to any hostile Anti-Air unit or turret, and cannot be repaired (although they can be protected by expendable anti-missile point defenses or energy shields for a short time).
Frickin' Laser Beams: The Order of the New Dawn uses directed-energy weapons (lasers and particle beams) on nearly all of it's units, with the exception of the missile-armed Templars and Dracos, and the drone-armed Orions. However, their energy weapons act incredibly similarly to the Crayven kinetic weapons, with the biggest difference being that they do slightly more damage.
Friendly Fireproof: Averted on Normal and Hard difficulties. As a matter of fact, friendly fire is one of the potentially biggest annoyances of the game. Your units will happily fire at any target within their range, regardless if the line of fire is obstructed by vegetation, buildings, or friendly units, and it's up to you to position them correctly and/or tell them to hold fire to avoid casualties. Possibly due to the memory demands it would put on the game if units were to check constantly to see if they have a clear line of fire. Especially since they will be firing at the rear of friendlies. For vehicles this means their weakest armor. A poorly-placed heavy terradyne can cost you a light terradyne in front of it in just a few shots.
Realistically implemented. Units can use the shadows of cliffs and trees to help conceal themselves. Rocks can provide some degree of cover for infantry. Hiding under trees can protect ground units against aerodyne attacks and artillery fire to an extent. Terrain features can impediment units' line of sight. High ground from cliffs and hills gives an accuracy bonus to direct-fire units attacking lower targets, and allows them to attack the thinner top-armor of vehicles. Buildings, rubble and walls can block direct-fire weapons, forcing units to go around them or allowing them to hide behind them. And infantry can hike up steep slopes which are inaccessible to vehicles.
This was made less evident in the sequel, because the original had very sophisticated 3D terrain effects, with a mandatory use of a free-moving 3D camera. Result: you had to think in three dimensions. The sequel - while allowing you to still use the free-moving 3D camera as an option only - was designed around a typical 2D Starcraft-like camera so that navigating terrain was more two-dimensional in nature, and bland. In the original, you could crest subtle slopes for surprise attacks, or navigate almost imperceptible troughs and gulleys for outflanking - something no Starcraft player has ever done.
The specialist infantry (Jaegers and Templars), the artillery units, and the fire-support units of both sides count as glass cannons. All of these units rely on firepower and long range, staying behind the front line or hidden by stealth regularly, and dying quickly if cornered or ambushed.
While aerodynes in general are a mixture of this trope and Fragile Speedster, the Crayven bomber aerodyne leans heavily towards being a Glass Cannon, with extreme firepower, low speed (by aerodyne standards), and almost no armor, though, like all Crayven aerodynes, it does have a strong point-defense system. The system can only be used three times for half a minute each per mission, but if used right can usually buy enough time to take down the Anti-Air defenses in a particular region, giving the bombers free reign.
Macross Missile Massacre: This is unleashed by several units, including the Order's Templar torpedo infantry and Pavo anti-air hoverdyne, the Crayven Firecracker missile terradynes, and all fighter and attack aerodynes.
The Swarm is the Phoenix Mercenaries' unique aircraft whose guided missiles are equally effective against air and ground targets. As can be guessed by its name, it's most effective in massed quantities, resulting in powerful missile barrages.
Including, technically, the Order of the New Dawn.
Mighty Glacier: The heavy tanks - the Crayven Corp's Grizzly and the Order's Volans - are built to be extremely tough, and take a long time to kill even when using anti-tank specials, flanking attacks, artillery and other fire-support. They are nigh-invincible from the front, against anything less than another tank or dedicated anti-tank unit. Infantry and scout weapons cannot penetrate their armor at all, and even Templars need to hit their rear armor to cause any damage. However, they sacrifice the speed and firepower of the more balanced main battle tanks to achieve their resilience.
Mission Control: Provided by Enrica Hayes in the first campaign, and mostly by Paladin Magnus in the second, though Cardinal Aegeri commands you for a few missions during the stalemate phase, and Sergeant Cole takes over the job following Magnus' Heroic Sacrifice.
Non-Entity General: averted. Both Stone and Parker have fleshed-out, dynamic personalities.
In Ground control you are actually on the battlefield in the APC. By the second game your character has been stowed somewhere safe, but oddly is still seen on the battlefield in cut scenes.
Nuke 'em: The Crayven Hog artillery unit and Condor bomber aerodyne can use nukes as one-shot special weapons. The Order's Templars can also carry mini-nukes if they ever need extra punch for taking down terradyne concentrations.
Surprisingly averted for the biggest bang in the game, which is to be produced by a "full TDX demolition charge".
Shout-Out: The research facility "White Asem". Asem spelled backwards is Mesa, and the opposite of White is Black.
Possibly an unitentional one, A game called Ground control has a character called Major Thomas in it. (Ground Control to Major Tom)
And even then, the Order technically isn't an exception - it is registered as a corporation, and have representation with a number of organisations as that. In practice, of course, it acts as a church, not a corporation, but both the Order and the actual Mega Corps found it worthwhile to provide the fig-leaf necessary to incorporate the Order into the political structure as an equal to any one of the corporations.
Prophetic Name: The naming of the planet Krig 7-B (Krieg is German for war) (Krig is also Norwegian, Swedish AND Danish for war).
As a side note, the game abbreviates "Order of the New Dawn" to "OND", which in Scandinavian means "evil".
Real Time with Pause: "Classic" Real-Time With Pause-variant. Unlike most other RTS games of the time, which allow you to pause to do things like issue orders to your squads, Ground Control doesn't allow you to do anything but move the camera while in paused mode.
Tank Goodness: The heavier Terradynes and Hoverdynes count under this.
Technobabble: The manual is filled with this regarding the Order of the New Dawn's units, but it is sparse in-game since all the characters are as such familiar with how their equipment works and have no need to recite it for the player. Most technobabble in-game is in regards to the Xenofacts, which is understandable since they are mysterious alien devices which the characters are not so familiar with.
Units Not to Scale: Both played straight and averted. The aversion is in the fact that all the units and buildings are perfectly on scale with one another, and with hills, cliffs, etc. The played-straight part comes in the fact that the flora and fauna on Krig 7-B are huge. There are birds the size of aerodynes, giant trees larger than most buildings, and tall grasses that easily dwarf tanks in height. It is possible that the atmosphere on Krig 7-B is hyper-oxygenated, accounting for giant flora and fauna.
Wave Motion Gun: The Order's Lacerta beam hoverdyne is built solely to act as a mobile platform for a single giant laser.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: If you switch from first to second game, you may need quite a lot of time to get used to new camera
Escort Mission: You occasionally have vital units crop up. You do control them, which makes things easier.
Face-Heel Turn: General Warhurst thinks that Alice's plan to evacuate Morningstar Prime and giving it to Virons is crazy, has Michelle LaCroix murdered in her sleep, puts Douglas Grant in a secret prison and sided with the Terran.
Friendly Sniper Rho act as sniper in game. What special to him is that he can attack at reduced range while moving.
Is he really sniper? He gone up against entire bunch of Imperials inside a building on Krig 7-B to rescue captered Viron leader on himself!
Fusion Dance: Virons' main schnick. They can merge two of the same units together to form a new unit that serves different purpose.
Hold the Line: Several, including Mission 24, "Nothing Left to Burn".
Mighty Glacier: In Ground Control 2, there is NSA's Ravager Heavy Terradyne. Armed with dual heavy cannon and can deploy forward shield for infantry to use as cover, all with a speed of a snail. (Until you got Transport Aerodyne, that is.) Couple the Ravager with NSA Missile Terradyne secondary mode then some Repair Terradyne and you get massively overpowered defense.
Artillery units have shameful firepower compared to their Ground Control counterparts and their armor was lowered as well. Rocket vehicles, however, have been buffed.
Viron rocket soldiers. Compared with those unstoppable Templars from the first game, they look heavily underpowered.
No Campaign for the Wicked: The Imperials are never playable in the unmodified game, not even in multiplayer. Because they weren't meant to be playable, they have smallest number of available units and they all lack secondary mode.
Ribcage Ridge: One of maps in-game feature a remains of huge otherworldly fish.
A good example is the standard Northern Star Alliance soldiers who use machine guns against infantry and rockets against vehicles and aircraft.
Sequel Hook: The description to the final cinematic says it all: The end... or is it?
Narration : Until finally... we saw them again.
Suicide Attack: Imperials in final mission sic a lot of bomb trucks on you.
The Dragon: Ghall Vi'cath in mission 12 ("Push"), Centurion Dracus in mission 24.
Title Drop: The Captain comments in one of his journals that if his sergeant was given the job for naming the evacuation he'd call it "Operation Exodus".
What Happened to the Mouse?: You discover evidence that Vlaana has pulled a massive Xanatos gambit in missions 21 and 22. What she was actually trying to achieve is never revealed, although you do appear to put a spanner in the works, judging by her last appearance in game.