You have been contracted by the Crayven Corporation for a series of missions of the utmost importance. You will equip the squads of devastating war machines and cunning soldiers assigned to you and lead them to victory. You will descend upon the planet Krig 7-B and plow through the enemy forces occupying the planet’s surface. Your enemies, the Dawnies, are a ruthless and strongly religious group of well-trained warriors who will fight to the death for their land on Krig 7-B. It will take all of your resources and skills in order to gain control of the planet’s surface and capture the alien secrets hidden there. This is total ground warfare. This is Ground Control.
Sound interesting to you? It should. Ground Control offers you the chance to take charge of various battle groups that you equip and modify as you see fit, and lead them into intense real-time 3D warfare. Who wouldn’t love that? This game flaunts complete 3D camera motion, detailed terrain, vicious enemies, powerful weapons, massive tanks, swarms of troops, artillery shells being hurled, infantry gunfire, aerial dogfights, hit and run bombings, special forces snipers, mountains and jungles, explosions and energy blasts and so much more!
I’ll get into the incredible specifics of this game in just a moment. First I must say that overall it was quite an exhilarating game to play. The chaos is intense, yet easy to control and the detail of the landscape and the troops is done to such an extreme that it can’t be beat. This is one heck of a game!
The first category that I must rave about is graphics. Graphics these days are getting better and better due to faster computers and more advanced game programming. But until now I have not seen a game with visual effects as stunning as Ground Control. The game features a complete 3D range of motion for the in-game camera. This allows the player to look in any direction at any time as well as zoom in and out. You can even get so close to the action that the camera is at the same level as the infantry units on the ground! Now, you might expect that as you get closer you would see where the Sierra team cut corners in terms of detailing and the units and terrain would become blurry and undefinable right? WRONG! Sierra did not cut any corners on Ground Control. They detailed everything to the highest level they possibly could. During battles you can zoom all the way down into the middle of one of your infantry squads and actually see each soldier as clear as can be. You can even see the spent casings of the rounds being fired as they are expelled from the gun if you are really close to the action.
To give you and idea of exactly how detailed this game is, I’ll share something I noticed while playing a mission. I decided to hide my infantry in a patch of tall grass so they would have a good hiding spot from which to fire. I moved them into the grass and decided to zoom in all the way and see what it would look like if I were one of those soldiers. To my surprise, as I zoomed in into the grass I could see that there were dragon flies buzzing around in the grass! It was amazing that the Sierra team took the time to put those minor details in, and it really adds to the feeling of reality in the game. The terrain is also extremely well done. The settings range from dense foggy jungles to frozen tundras and just about everything in between. All are done in high detail. The soldiers even leave footprints where they walk and the vehicles leave tracks from their treads. The graphics of this game get a perfect score in my opinion.
The next overwhelmingly well done segment of this game is the sound. Every unit in the game has its own unique sounds. The infantry produce the sound of high-speed machine guns firing relentlessly. The tanks produce chilling booms as they hurl highly explosive shells from their guns. The artillery thump loudly as they pound enemy fortifications with shells from far away. The constant booming of explosions and the blasting of guns dominate the battle zones of Ground Control. You can hear a high pitched whine as bullets wizz past the camera. Metal groans and clanks while being pummeled with infantry fire and cannon blasts. Soldiers scream in pain as enemy projectiles penetrate their armor and end their existence. Tanks growl and hum as they work their hover generators and tread engines. Aircraft scream across the skies, their afterburners howling. This game provides a sound environment that involves the player totally in the combat and chaos. The sound category is another boost for the Ground Control score.
But the heart of each game lies in its gameplay. If the game plays well then it will sell well. If it doesn’t, then it’s just a matter of time before you can find it in the $9.99 software bins. My definition of a game that plays well is one that never bores you, is always full of twists turns and surprises, has a unique view on a certain field of play, and is always fun even if you are getting your butt kicked by the AI opponent. And that is a perfect description of Ground Control. The game is never boring, you are always on your toes expecting enemy forces to ambush you in canyons or to have snipers set up on that ridge ahead just waiting to take out a few of your troops. The surprises in the game are endless. The storyline provides a scenario for the intense battles you are constantly participating in and makes you want with a passion to defeat the enemy and obliterate their presence on this alien world. You grow attached to your forces as you progress through the game. You understand their cause and you agree with it. You feel anger when you lose them in battle and you do your best to avoid sending them to their deaths.
And talk about plot twists, you also get to play the other side, the Dawnies. This is interesting because you spend a lot of time fearing the other army’s units, only to get to command them in battle later on. I won’t give the plot away, but let’s just say the soldiers in the field can only deal with their inept generals for so long. And this is true for both sides of the battle line.
The uniqueness of this game also lies in the way the troops are grouped as squads. In all previous strategy games I have played you control each individual "unit" in your force. In Ground Control, however, squads have replaced the concept of individual units. You control each squad as if it were a single unit but each one contains numerous soldiers or tanks or aircraft. This adds to the militaristic feel of the game and also makes it a lot easier to control your men on the battlefield without having to sacrifice force in numbers.
One impressive thing you will realize while playing this game is that you will sit down and be playing it for a long time. No matter how hard the mission in front of you seems to be, you want to stay in your chair and control those troops of yours until you have attained utter victory. It keeps you so well focused on the game that you don’t want to give up and stop playing. The interesting storyline having to do with the strange power that has been discovered on the planet keeps you playing for the pure sake of curiosity as to what is going on and what will happen next. The gameplay is magnificent and is by no means a downgrade for this game.
The final category is lasting appeal. Is the game still fun to play after you’ve owned it for a while and played it a bunch? The answer to that would be a big yes! As I said before, this game captures your attention and doesn’t let it go. If you do somehow manage to pry yourself away from your computer, trust me, you’ll be back. The game becomes addictive and you constantly think "I’ve come this far already, there’s no point in stopping now." Even if you do manage to finally complete the entire game and dominate Krig 7-B, you will feel the urge to go back and play it again purely for the sake of having fun. But if I’m wrong and you don’t feel like trekking through all the missions a second time then Ground Control has another feature to keep you coming back: Online multiplayer warfare. This is a first for games of this kind. Finally, you can hook up to the Internet and unleash your weapons of destruction and wreak havoc upon all your gaming buddies. Show them what you’re made of by either crushing them with the brute force of the Crayven army, or by making them beg for mercy from your sneak attacks as the Order of the New Dawn. The possibilities for fun are endless and that is what will keep you flocking back to Ground Control.
After playing this game for quite some time and being completely astounded by it in all the fields, graphics, sound, gameplay, and lasting appeal, I decided Ground Control deserves a perfect five GiN Gems. I looked and looked, but I could not find a single aspect of this game that did not wow me beyond belief. The graphics are incredible and the detail is astounding. The sound lives up to the graphics and will blow you away from the moment you fire your first shot. The gameplay is fast and fun and allows you to easily navigate furious battle zones. And there is a nice tutorial to get you into the action without risking your neck right away. The game will keep you coming back in order to quench your thirst for either intense battle, or conclusion to the storyline. Overall Sierra and Massive have done an incredible job and they deserve to be commended for their work on Ground Control.