Ground Control 2: Operation Exodus
The original Ground Control was in the vanguard of RTSs such as Battlezone, Uprising and Warzone 2100, all of which came along around the turn of the millennium to revolutionise the genre by transporting the action to rolling 3D vistas.
What Ground Control, possibly the best of the bunch, also offered was the chance to forget about any resource gathering. Instead, it placed small platoons of futuristic troops at your disposal, along with vehicles and aircraft which gained experience as each highly-tactical mission was completed. Dropships ferried your assault teams to the battlefield, as well as delivering reinforcements or evacuating troops at the conclusion.
This sequel is set to follow tightly the formula of sci-fi skirmishing, only it's set in 2741 - 300 years further into the future. But the date's not the only thing that's changed, as the visuals have also progressed eons, along with certain aspects of the gameplay.
Take the role of the dropships. Before, your reinforcements were scripted into the missions; now, the amount of dropship-borne reserves you can call upon is dependent on your control of strategic locations on the ground.
This makes battles in GCII far more dynamic than in its predecessor, says lead designer Henrik Sebring. But as well as bringing reinforcements, these huge, hulking dropships can also be controlled on the battlefield like a regular unit. They can be used to give additional fire support or provide specific tasks, depending on their configuration.
Another feature of Ground Control that's been moved to centre stage is the weather. Henrik explains: In addition of being truly beautiful, the weather system really changes gameplay.
For example, on a clear day scouts enjoy great view ranges and rapid deployment. Battles are fought over great distances, and smoke support might need to be called down to relieve heavily engaged units, while dropships bring in much needed reinforcements.
Suddenly, heavy storm clouds form up in the sky," enthuses the frenzied Swede. Rain starts pouring, getting denser by the second. The first lightning bolt strikes, illuminating the sky and the ground around its impact. The heavy thunderstorm quickly changes the battlefield as view range and accuracy are decreased; the dropship reports its inability to get to the battlefield. Battles become tight, the action taking place at close quarters, until the storm disappears.
In the new incarnation, tactical commanders are able to use weather shifts to launch sneaky offensive manoeuvres or a simple redeployment to throw the opponent off guard. Henrik continues, ominously: The different factions in the game respond differently to weather - one man's bread is another's death. We'll never feel relaxed in a baker's again.
We were also keen to hear about GCII's multiplayer modes, as the developers have been making noises about some intriguing new features. Henrik was happy to oblige: In the special drop-in mode, up to eight players can just drop in to an existing game and play, without first having to find opponents and set up a game.
But for us, he's saving the best until last: You'll also be able to play through the single-player campaign in cooperative multiplayer. Each player will have their own units to control, including dropships, but with shared objectives. Which sounds like mint fun to us.
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode