[UPDATE: This article now has a working link to the downloadable game]
While the years following 1992 saw a whole slew of PC real-time strategy games trying to out-innovate each other while following the formula laid out by Dune 2, Massive Entertainment opted to go a different path with their then-revolutionary release, Ground Control. Utilizing full 3D graphics that allowed players to zoom out for a panoramic view of the battlefield or zoom in to see the finer details of the game, Ground Control had no problems setting itself apart from the usual slew of PC strategy games.
The full review and the FilePlanet download link after the jump.
Massive also introduced a twist with their project: their PC strategy game had no base building elements. Instead it gave players units to deploy for every mission in its lengthy singleplayer campaign. It also threw in levels that had rugged terrain --- canyons, plains, hills, and entire mountains filled Ground Control’s maps. These geographic formations imbued the game with a tactical aspect that was unparalleled in its heyday. Even now, whenever I play it, I can't help but feel that this is the Ghost Recon of real-time strategy gaming for the PC.
There is no fog of war in this free PC strategy game but LOS (line of sight) mechanics impose themselves heavily on the gameplay. This results in gameplay that demands infantry-reliant tactics --- hidden units in this RTS game can wreak havoc on your tanks and support units. Used wisely, recon units or regular power-armored infantry can act as effective pre-emptive countermeasures as they scout valleys and promontories and provide overwatch for your lumbering war machines.
In fact this whole new level of importance this free full version PC strategy game places on footsoldiers is one of the aspects that make Ground Control exceptional. Infantry units, while considered insignificant in most strategy games, are a critical component here --- anti-tank units can decimate tanks with near impunity while footsoldiers armed with the right special weapons pose as hard counters to those anti-armor troopers. The emphasis is really thought out and you’ll be glad those power-armored marines are along for the ride (you’ve no way of chucking them out in the pre-mission unit selection screen); you’ll find out in the first minutes of the game that they are important assets, not liabilities. Among a plethora of infantry-based tactics you will churn out, you will order them to traverse kilometers-long canyons, spot for your artillery units, and lay down suppressing fire on heavy armor if the opportunity presents itself. You will also feel the void an infantry squad leaves behind if ever one gets wiped out; units in this real-time strategy game gain awards and experience whenever they complete missions. As a result, veteran squads have better accuracy, perception, stealth, and damage ratings than rookies.
You can also outfit your squads before missions. The military equipment you have at your disposal, while limited to 2-3 choices in each category (“Special Weapons” and “Equipment”) are as indispensable as the aforementioned infantry. Different kinds of units also get different choices: marines can choose between rifle-mounted anti-infantry mortars or anti-tank rockets while air superiority aerodynes can be outfitted with two types of air-to-air rockets. Units can also be outfitted with equipment like deployable radars or repair kits.
Did I mention air superiority aerodynes?
As you progress through the game, the campaign gives you more units to command and these include artillery, rocket vehicles that can hit both air and ground targets, recon planes, and the ponderous AV/U-45 SRBA “Condors.” Seeing the latter obliterate targets of opportunity---like enemy recon infantry that have gone beyond the shelter of friendly AA emplacements---is awesome to watch. The earth kicks out flame and debris with such fury that sometimes you forget this game was made in the early part of this decade.
The graphics department of Ground Control is no slouch. Tanks kick up dust and leave furrows in the dirt, artillery shells kick out a short distance, shed platings, and gracefully arc up in the air, while---if the map is awash in sunlight---sun flare effects add a level of atmosphere rarely in games created in the year 2000.
While the deliberate, realistic pacing may put off some players, Ground Control is a triumph in gameplay over dated technology, delivering a tactical experience rarely seen in real-time strategy games both old and recent. If this was a game bearing his name, Tom Clancy would have been proud.
>>>Download downloadable PC full version freeware real-time strategy (RTS) game Ground Control from HERE (Note: Download requires that you register with Fileplanet's free Comrade system (for more information about Comrade, please click HERE)
>>>See more downloadable PC full version freeware RTS games HERE