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Probably the only real-time tactical battle simulation on the PC; certainly the only recent one. You're assigned a certain number of units and up to three dropships; for a maximum of 12 squads under your command at any one time. Normal mix of infantry, armor, aircraft and artillery; but what sets GroundControl apart from almost every other RTS is the lack of resource management.
There are also sometimes some units given to you mid-mission, which can bring you up to 18 units.  --Vitenka




Plot-wise: There's some dodgy futuristic justification, and renamed tanks and planes (everything is a something-dyne, because they can hover) and a basic 'corporations versus the religious orders' plot wherein a planet is attacked and <spoiler>alien artifacts are found</spoiler> and <spoiler>a horrible thing is unleashed</spoiler>.  But a basic plot does not a good game spoil - you get to play all the major phases of a campaign, from initial SpecialForces? assaults, through main assaults, thwarting counterstrikes, defending untenable forward positions and finally AirSuperiority? assured crushings-of-the-enemy.  Then you swap sides and get to play the opposite, starting with hit and run and then building up a nice roving assault and having to defend it. 
The mission briefings are fairly entertaining (there's a few recurring characters that you learn to hate) though a lot of the 'my superiors hate me' feel is stolen straight from TieFighter.  Sadly, the missions almost all devolve down to "Find everything that moves and blow it up.  And anything that doesn't move, blow that up too.  Here's a suggested priority order."  There's no branching - each mission is either passed or failed.
The mission fields are small but mostly well designed.  The enemy is relatively smart and is set up to defend itself fairly sensible - if there's a back route to their base they know about it and have it guarded.  --Vitenka
Multiplayer is catered for, and there are campaign editors.  There is a fair distribution of different units, but it's done in a "type / subtype / special weapon" way that keeps things simple enough to comprehend.  You also don't meet the really horrible units until quite late on.  There is also an almost entirely useless tutorial (which does, at least, explain the slightly unusual single MouseButton control system.)  --Vitenka




You have a mission, you choose your units. You can't build any more, so TankRushing is right out. Instead, it's down to reconnaissance; covert infantry or fast-flying aircraft to pinpoint enemy fortifications; hit them with your artillery, then send in the heavy armor to engage enemy concentrations. Best add a screen of light infantry though; else you'll run into a hedge of missile-armed infantrymen who'll reduce your shiny armor to scrap metal.

Yes; proper military strategies and balanced forces are required. I don't know of any other war-sim for which this is true.
DevilsAdvocate Slowly advance forward and blow everything you see into tiny pieces is a proper military strategy?  --Vitenka
Yup. Ask the Russians. --Requiem
Heh, fair enough.  I just don't think my tactics are advanced enough to deserve being called 'proper military' - but they work. --Vitenka

Later missions can be extremely frustrating; enemy fortifications are well-planned and supported by their own artillery, and it's all too easy to walk into an ambush. Serves you right for not scouting that hilltop...
Slight DevilsAdvocate - artillery has a really hard time hititng moving targets.  This goes for yours too, so it's not a problem per-se, more a tactic.  --Vitenka
AA units are rarely fast enough moving that this is an issue, and AA is my main artillery target. Attack aircraft do nicely for moving targets. --Requiem
It's the fixed emplacements that do my craft in - and by the time my artillery can get it, I've usually had to take out the tanks (or, at the very least, the tanks have come and tried to do me in in reply to my bombardment) - and once the tanks and emplacements are taken out what's the point of the aircraft?  They do make good recon on the very few 'hunt and destroy' missions, I'll grant them that - but I cycle them out of my force whenever possible in exchange for artillery - which just seems to do a better job.  And rocket units (once you get them) seem to do a better anti-aircraft job than the fighters do.  I guess I just don't like aircraft, and they never seem vital in the way heavy tanks do.  --Vitenka (The limited multi-unit formation commands don't help either - my aircraft like to wander off and investigate things which are doing the shooting, and unlike tanks are fast enough to get into range of AA guns before I can recall them.)
Heavy tanks? The ones that are slower, less manageable and in all ways strictly worse than the medium tanks? I count them as a special unit only useful for the holding of specific stationary points. Fighters are less powerful than ground based AA, but can redeploy incredibly fast. And attack aerodynes have the best attack in the game - with them supporting a tank line, tank losses kind of decrease. I use aircraft as much in the defensive as the offensive role. --Requiem
Well, at least for my style of play, speed is completely unimportant.  And having the armour and firepower counts for a lot.  It's also kind of amusing that half the units on the battlefield can't hurt you at all.  My attack planes just die whenever they get near the battle line, so I gave up even trying to use them.  I can't see any value to medium tanks though - they can't kill infantry the way light tanks can and they don't carry particularly useful specials.  --Vitenka  (I take it back - always bring one main battle tank as Crayven because it can equip the repair-station special, which is the only way to repeair your APC)
Fair enough. From my perspective, heavy tanks are slower and less manoeuvrable, carrying less than twice the hit points of a medium tank but exactly twice the firepower. And you only get 2 per unit as opposed to 4 medium tanks - so if you get some bad luck and walk into aerodynes, artillery or ambush then you're probably down 50% of your firepower in one fell swoop. And they can't slam down a repair station behind the battle line (multiplies survivability several times). But like you say. Different styles, different units. --Requiem

Oh hang on, totally misunderstood.  YOUR artillery, their AA.  Hmmm.  That would tie in with the whole 'scouting ahead' thing that I don't bother with :)  I'm not really sure how to scout out AA except from the air, since it tends to be hidden round horrible corners with bunches of tanks in front of it.  Though bombarding anything that looks vaguely suspicious works.  What I meant by the 'moving targets' crack was that you don't need to scout out artillery as long as you keep moving.  I've not been given a 'defend' mission that you're actually expceted to succeed at yet - that would seriously change the role of the enemy artillery.  --Vitenka (Good point on artillery vs AA... now how to get my artillery that close without setting off all their tanks at it, I wonder...)
If you make a mistake and the tanks come running, they run right into your own tank line backed up with special units and attack aerodynes. If you keep your aerodynes well enough in hand, you ought to be able to take out their entire rush - massed close air support is very effective. Jaegers are the best Crayven scout troops (if you've the patience), or very tightly controlled scout aerodynes or even hoverbikes if you're the Order. I tend to go very tank-artillery heavy and Russian as the Crayven, and very aircraft-special forces heavy and American as the Order. But as you say, the correct use of artillery is the key to the game, and effective counterbattery fire is quite possible. --Requiem
Well yes, killing the tanks is easy enough - but um, since I can kill the tanks and just ignore the AA by not having any planes I could just ignore the site completely?  Then again, I've not got too far into the order campaign - maybe planes become more useful later.  But they just don't seem to fit into the RockPaperScissors.  You've got light tanks beats anti-tank infantry beats tanks beats light tanks.  And then you've got planes beats artillery beats emplacements.  But a single anti-air unit wipes all planes off the map whenever they dare get near it - so you have to take out the artillery the normal way anyway.  And usually have to sacrifice a unit purely to air defence, until you get rocket troops or tanks which can multi-purpose.  --Vitenka  (Mind you, beam platforms are a poor substitute)
The idea is more "I'm bored of Russian tactics; how else can I fight?" - and multi-purpose units are a poor primary AA defence if you're being attacked by multiple aerodyne squadrons aimed at them. --Requiem
Note that there is also no way to repair aerodynes, further limiting their usefulness in long engagements.  --Vitenka (Still not seen a 'scout and hit' mission that can't be solved better by brute force)

Another feature of the game.  Many missions have multiple drop zones - and often some are only available after you acheive a partial objective (knocking out an enemy outpost that was giving air support, usually)  This is a lovely feature, but except where you are forced to use it (only a single dropship at the first site) pretty much useless, since there are always roving enemy defenders and each force that you drop has to be able to survive them - so why not combine your force and have a better chance?  Pincer movements sound good on paper, but only work if you know exactly where the enemy is.  And if you know that, artillery does the job...  --Vitenka

I agree that this function is underused. It's quite fun in multiplayer, though. --Requiem



Ilanin has recently gone back to this. Right, Requiem, did you actually manage to finish this? If so...Order of the New Dawn campaign; missions 12 onwards. WTF? Survival? Possibility thereof? I can just about do Order 12 with ~75% casualties. This is not good. Do you remember anything of them?
Hm. It does get very hard; which is mission 12? I'm sure I did complete it at one stage (years ago). --Requiem
Is 12 the last one? I seem to remember hiding in gullys and wondering if I could order my men to drop to their knees and pray for victory in the last one. --Edith
Check the mission discussion page linked lower down.  But in short, it's the one where you have to, simultaneously, intercept a convoy, evade the hunting pack and blow apart a forward base (which you are, at least, allowed to infiltrate and doens't fire back until you open up) on a time-limit - before proceeding with the usual 'crunch everything that moves' mission plan.  I had to cheat, in the end.  The very last mission I found easy - keep moving to evade arty, push a couple of rocket soldiers up the canyon walls to snipe out arty and tanks and then just swarm the base with everything you've got.  Keep lots and lots of rockets to avoid airpower.  --Vitenka




Oooh, this page exists?  I'll just point out that it is available for free download as a promo for its sequel - and although you need a OWN account to play multiplayer (which means getting a GameSpy? ID which means much spam) you do not for single player.
As to gameplay - it's great fun but relatively simplistic.  You do need a balance of units, but scouting doesn't seem to have much value since all it does is cause the enemy to notice you earlier.  Air units are incredibly vulnerable to anti-air defences, and to knock those out from the ground you need to knock out the tanks guarding them - and once you've done that what did you need the air units for?
The anti-tank infantry is indeed incredibly powerful - but only one side gets it.  So when you're playing that side, I'm not entirely sure what normal infantry or light tanks are for.  Once you've got it, why not go entirely heavy?
Anyway, I'm only up to mission six of that second campaign so far, so I can't help with the questions.  At a guess it'll be "Quickly run to the opposite side of the map" since I haven't met one of those missions yet :) 
I usually get near 0 casualties right up until the final fortified position when all you can do is rush it - and lose slightly more than half my force then.  Except on the 'can I use my artillery properly' mission - that one was a wonderful walk.
This would be largely due to the existence of units that let you regenerate your stuff after an engagement.  --Vitenka

Suggestion: StrategiesAndTactics? or some similarly named page, since a lot of these discussions (on the effective use of various types of units) are going to be quite general rather than game specific?  --Vitenka

/MissionSpoilers




From a different page - allegedly you can PAUSE.  How? The escape menu doesn't do it.  --Vitenka
Escape menu -> 'Options'. Or (IIRC - I'm at work and can't check) the P key. --Requiem



CategoryComputerGames

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