Ground Control II: Operation Exodus Review
Ground Control II: Operation Exodus is an aptly named game because it is all about controlling territory. There is no base-building in the game and no resource gathering – instead the action is focused on controlling strategic points on the map and “special drop zones” used to bring in reinforcements. The result is a real-time strategy game that is very tactics-focused and that delivers fast-paced, and at times frantic, action.
|A dropship makes a landing.|
In Ground Control II, the Northern Star Alliance of worlds is fighting for its survival against the oppressive forces of the Terran Empire. It seems that the Terran Empire does not look kindly on former colonies getting ideas about independence and so has sent their military to quash the Alliance. When the Alliance proves to be a troublesome opponent, the Terran Empire brings in an alien race to do their dirty work. This plan backfires on the Terrans, though, as the Virons and their biotech weapons switch sides during the conflict and make things even harder on the Terrans’ plans of empire. This storyline is played out over two twelve mission campaigns where you’ll get to play first as the Northern Star Alliance and later as the alien Virons – sorry, but those of you who like playing from the dark side are out of luck.
As mentioned above, there is no base building in Ground Control II. Instead the maps have special spots designated as drop zones which are used to bring in reinforcements from off-map bases. Instead of requiring you to gather resources and spend time building an economy, Ground Control II starts you off with a set number of Acquisition Points (AP) which serves as your currency for purchasing units. You AP total will slowly accumulate on its own, but you can quicken this pace by capturing special victory locations.
While it may seem that this resource scheme will let you flood the map with units there are actually a couple constraints that prevent you from doing so, at least initially. The first is that units in the field draw their upkeep from the AP pool. If you have too many units in the field, then you will generate AP at a slower and slower pace until eventually it stops. At this point you won’t be able to generate AP to buy new units until some of the units already in the field are destroyed. The second limiting factor is your dropship – you get only one and it has a limited cargo capacity. Once it drops off a load of new units, you need to wait for it to return to its base and then make its way back to the dropzone before additional units are delivered. As an aside I’d like to point out that there is a cool feature with the dropships in that they carry a pretty powerful laser cannon. As it makes its way to the dropzone, a dropship will take potshots at any enemies it encounters and will aim a more steady stream of fire at any enemies near the dropzone. You can even order the dropship to hang around the dropzone for a short period of time to act as a powerful defensive unit – although you won’t be able to bring in any reinforcements while your dropship is so occupied.