Ground Control II: Operation Exodus is a 2004 computer game developed by Massive Entertainment and by them classified as a real-time tactics game. It is a sequel to Ground Control, the award winning game of the same genre. Much like its predecessor, it features 3D graphics and a fully rotational camera system.
Unlike real-time strategy games, Ground Control II behaves much like the previous title in that it focuses more on unit strategy and tactics rather than base construction or managing an economy. However, unlike the previous game's purely real-time tactics implementation, Ground Control II does have a resource system called Acquisition which is earned through the capturing of Victory Locations and destruction of enemy forces. Acquisition Points allow the player to field units on the battlefield and use the support weapons that are unique to each faction. The game is also significantly faster paced than its older brother and moves along at a pace similar to real-time strategy games such as Warcraft and Command and Conquer.
The game features a three-sided conflict. However only two of the factions, the Northern Star Alliance and the Viron Nomads, are actually playable. The Terran Empire is a NPC faction featured prominently in the single-player campaign. Between the two playable sides, there are a total of 33 units available. All of these units are deployed onto the battlefield through dropships, much like the deployment procedures of its predecessor. These units include mobile infantry, tanks, light assault vehicles, aircraft, artillery, and static emplacements. Unlike Ground Control, however, unit customization is unavailable as each individual unit features a secondary function.
Ground Control II takes place approximately 322 years after the events of Ground Control and its expansion Ground Control: Dark Conspiracy. What follows is a detailed timeline that summarizes the events that would lead to the formation of the Terran Empire and the subsequent subjugation of the Northern Star Colonies and the Virons.
The Battle for Krig-7b (2419-2420)
On the remote backwater planet Krig-7b, two factions, the Crayven Corporation and the Order of the New Dawn engaged in an all out war for control of the planet. What was originally a colonial acquisition by the ruthless Crayven Corporation quickly turned into a bloody conflict for the seizure of ancient alien technology from the fanatical Order of the New Dawn. It was eventually discovered that Krig-7b was a nexus of a galactic network of the appropriately termed Xenofacts which were spread across the galaxy. The conflict eventually escalated into a stalemate between the two factions and a temporary cease-fire was announced. However, this ploy was seen for what it really was by Crayven Field Commander Major Sarah J. Parker and Order Deacon Jarred Stone. Both commanders united to take down the corrupt Crayven director Enrica Hayes and Order Cardinal Aegeri and to foil their disastrous plan to unleash an alien drone army which would annihilate the entire galaxy. Eventually Deacon Stone led his renegade forces to victory, killing the Cardinal and destroying the primary Xenofact in one fell swoop. An ominous, yet mysterious event happened directly afterwards as the destroyed Xenofact emitted a coherent beam of light that lasted a few seconds. What exactly happened is to this day unexplained, however it is hinted that it was a signal, the exact purpose of which remains a mystery. The "signal" obliterated the Order command ship WCS Retribution in the atmosphere and significantly damaged the CSS Astrid in the process. Two months later Sarah Parker destroyed the Earth's Early Warning System. Her reasons for doing so were never discovered but the consequences were clear. Earth was left in a vulnerable position that would eventually lead to the First Stellar War.
The Independence Wars (2422-2429)
In light of heavy taxation and increasing self-sufficiency in terms of military and economy, independence had become a logical move for several corporations, including the Crayven Corporation, Welby-Simms and the Order of the New Dawn. Welby-Simms Corporation declared its independence from Terra and thus began the Independence Wars. Insurrection became a virtual disease which swept over the colonies like a blanket. Eventually the majority of the 29 colonies in the Outer Sphere declared themselves independent. By the war's end, Earth had lost almost all power and only controlled a mere handful of its remaining colonies.
The First Stellar War (2431-2501)
A relatively new nation, the Draconis Empire, saw the revolution spurring throughout the galaxy as an opportunity and decided to mount an assault on the weakened Earth government. What occurred next was probably the largest conflict in all of human history. While the conflict was initially between the Draconis Empire and Earth, it wasn't long before the other factions came to be involved in an endless race for power and influence. The destruction that followed was virtually unspeakable. Several colonies ended up annihilated in the struggle and others became isolated. Eventually the Outer Sphere was completely cut off from the rest of humanity when the Tachyon Com Relays were destroyed. It was later discovered that the Draconis Empire perpetrated the attacks in order to close off its borders. By the end of the war, 70 years later, all of the Inner Spheres 50 colonies and the great interstellar corporations along with the Order of the New Dawn were no more. The Terran Empire was born.
The Age of Silence (2501-2699)
The aftermath of the First Stellar War was a difficult reconstruction period for the Terran Empire. They were hard pressed to pool all available resources into maintaining control and stability over the Inner Sphere. The Outer Sphere was essentially abandoned as soon as the Tachyon Com Relays were destroyed as the Henrich Barrier effectively blocked all other communication methods. The Outer Sphere worlds became impoverished as starvation, frustration, and petty hatreds became the norm. Much of the old corporation technology was worn out and rendered useless, as the knowledge to repair these items had been lost over time. Slowly but surely the Outer Colonies began to replenish themselves. Communication once again became available to the colonies and space travel was re-invented. The colonies eventually started diplomatic measures and two nations were born: The Northern Star Alliance, of 23 colonies, and the Intergalactic Trade Guild, of 6 colonies. Almost all colonies of the Outer Sphere were united in a galactic democracy through the ingenious machinations of a young man by the name of Aranis Guderian Warhurst. The NSA decided that Morningstar Prime would be the capital for the new nation. The Alliance is governed by a democratic council, consisting of representatives from each world. Three times a year the council meets on Morningstar Prime, which became the NSA capital. Prosperity was finally realized by the citizens of the NSA and life was peaceful. Peace and prosperity, however, can never last forever.
The Second Stellar War/ The Second Independence War (2699)
The Terran Empire struck without warning, without mercy. A massive fleet of ships systematically conquered planet after planet and at the front was a young woman by the name of Imperator Vlaana Azleea. The atrocities committed on Ariel Prime, the birthplace of the NSA, rightfully earned her the title 'The Butcher of Ariel'. As planets were conquered, once great cities were rendered mere dust and ashes in the face of ruthless orbital bombardments and land invasions. The NSA began to prepare a counter to the Empire's seemingly unstoppable advance. The NSA space fleet was mobilized and under the command of Admiral T. Parker was able to stand firm against the onslaught and stop the Terrans. Later on, the most significant event occurred when the idea of electromagnetic shield domes was put into effect in defending the cities of the NSA. With the domes in place, orbital bombardments were rendered useless, however the threat of ground invasion was still in place.
Current situation (2741)
42 years later, the war is looking grim for the Northern Star Alliance. The space fleet is no more, destroyed in one decisive battle outside Morningstar in 2730. Morningstar Prime remains free amongst the conquered NSA planets but even that status can't last forever. Terran troops land by the second and the citizens of the Northern Star Alliance are backed into a corner. Warhurst, now commander-in-chief of the NSA military, cannot continue to resist for much longer. New field commanders are mobilized to defend Morningstar Prime including Captain Jacob Angelus, however the war has taken its toll on both him and the military. Many are wearied from the constant fighting and it seems the only hope for the NSA is the realization of an ancient legend. A legend which could mean the end of humanity as we know it.
Factions & Units
Northern Star Alliance
The NSA is a conglomeration of democratic colonies of the now defunct Crayven Corporation. The capital of the NSA is Morningstar Prime. Before the war, the colonies enjoyed peace and prosperity, which can be attributed to its hard working citizenry. They now must fight to preserve their way of life from the ruthless Terran Empire.
The NSA use conventional ballistic weaponry for their forces and traditional wheeled or tracked land vehicles known as terradynes. Their technology is an obvious descendant from military technology utilized by the Crayven Corporation, and is just as effective as it was 300 years ago. NSA units are generally more durable but slower than their Viron or Terran counterparts. Their heaviest vehicle, the ravager terradyne, has way more firepower and armor than any other vehicle, but moves the slowest. Because terradynes do not hover (unlike hoverdynes or centruroids), the NSA cannot cross waterways without air transport.
The Virons are bipedal organisms who use sophisticated nanotechnology coupled with organic machinery. They were first discovered by the rogue corporate agent Sarah Parker, when she ventured into their territory in the 25th century. Expeditions were sent to establish communication with them, however the Virons responded with hostility. The Virons are traditionally xenophobic and tend to keep to themselves. What is known about them is that their society is divided in clans, and their culture a code of honor.
It is not known what exactly happened to the Virons between the first and the second installment of the Ground Control. During the time of Ground Control II, the Virons are shown as being a slave army for the Terran Empire. It is also said that their homeworld, located within the Ragnorak Nebula, was rendered uninhabitable some time prior to the beginning of Ground Control II, and they are now forced to reside on a fleet of Clan Ships.
Virons are also dependent on "zethane", a trace gas used by them to breathe in much the same way as humans need oxygen.
Viron units are capable of regenerating health, although the process is slow. Viron vehicles are known as centruroids, which are similar to hoverdynes but have a distinctly organic design. The Virons possess the unique ability of melding, which allows two basic units to combine into a single, more advanced unit. The process is reversible; the new unit can be unmelded into the original constituent units. This ability gives the Virons greater flexibility in combat, although units are defenseless during the meld/unmeld process.
Formerly the Draconis Empire, the Empire of Terra (commonly known Terran Empire) draws much of its strength from the tattered husks of the old mega corporations. Its goal is to unite all humanity under its sovereign control, and unfortunately the means to do so have been decidedly less than moral. The emperor, Marcus Augustus, has charged the ruthless Imperator Vlaana Azleea with the task of subjugating the NSA to bring them into the fold.
The Empire of Terra features the most advanced military technology of the three factions. They utilize combat hovercraft called hoverdynes, which are faster and more mobile than the NSA's terradynes.* In addition, they also have Striders, large bipedal mechs armed with autocannon or missiles. Imperial units are equipped with energy weapons, which often equal or supersede their opponent's projectile weaponry in terms of damage. On top of their technological advantage, the Terrans boast sheer numerical superiority. Although the Terran Empire has appeared many times throughout the campaign, this is not a playable multiplayer faction.
- Actually, the fastest NSA terradynes are just as fast as the fastest terran hoverdynes. It's only the fact that the most powerful terran hoverdyne can move much faster than the most powerful NSA or Viron counterparts.
The terran empire is the only faction out of the three that have defensive turrets, and they have the best heavy machine guns, firing about 10x faster than the Viron or NSA doubles.
The Intergalactic Trade Guild
The trade guild was one of two organizations spawned from the re-unification of the colonies. They are generally well received as they bring economic promise to beleaguered nations. Others however regard them as rogues and smugglers. The Trade Guild has been known to dabble in certain black markets including human slavery and weapons smuggling. To this day, the Trade Guild has and still declares themselves a neutral party in galactic politics. They swear allegiance only to the almighty credit, after all, according to them, "A client is a client". However once a contract is signed they are know to uphold the contract to the letter.
Northern Star Alliance
- Jacob Angelus
Captain Jacob Angelus is the protagonist of the game. The player essentially plays through his perspective throughout the entire game. His personality is essentially catered to the ideal hero character. He maintains a brutal tactical prowess and his natural charisma draws notice from his superiors and close friends.
Initially, Angelus is not trusted by many senior officials, particularly Warhurst, due to his perceived lack of ability. However, he soon proves his mettle on the battlefield. His shrewd tactics eventually lead him to many victories against the Terran Empire, inspiring hope amongst the downtrodden NSA citizenry. Despite being acutely aware of the futility of the struggle against the Terran Empire, Angelus continues to serve the Northern Star alliance.
Angelus has a noticeable British accent.
- Tai Han Rho
Sergeant Tan Hai Rho is an elite soldier in Captain Angelus's company, serving as Angelus' top sniper. He is a good friend to both Jacob Angelus and Alice McNeal. Unlike the serious Angelus, Rho is more laid back and easygoing. Angelus and Rho's conversations are often casual in nature, despite the disparity in rank.
Sergeant Rho is a controllable combat unit in several missions.
- Aranis Guderian Warhurst
General Aranis Warhurst is the commander-in-chief of the Northern Star Alliance forces. He is presented as a no-nonsense personality, who often tells Angelus exactly what to do. The General constantly smokes a trademark cigar during the players' mission briefings and does not give his subordinates time to joke around on the job. he ends his conversations by saying "Warhurst out".
- Douglas Grant
Major Douglas C. Grant is a senior officer in the NSA army. His personality, character and accent are strongly reminiscent of the Confederate generals during the American Civil War. He is loud and brash when speaking and tends to act unorthodox in many ways but he is a good man through and through. Unlike Warhurst, his rank doesn't affect his "communication skills" with his fellow officers, including Captain Jacob Angelus. Has a wife named Antonia.
- Michelle LaCroix
Lieutenant Michelle LaCroix is another officer in the NSA. She has a distinct French accent.
- Alice McNeal
Dr. Alice McNeal is the head of the Northern Star Alliance's Science Directorate. McNeal is a close friend of Jacob Angelus, and their relationship may possibly run deeper. Her role in the plot is reminiscent of a damsel in distress, as several missions require the player to rescue or protect her in some way. McNeal also serves as Angelus's personal confidant.
- Corporal Newman
Captain Angelus' Radar Ops chief
- Vlaana Azleea
Imperator Vlaana Azleea is the primary antagonist of the game. She is the leader of the Terran invasion fleet and is the right hand of the emperor. This special status has been branded upon her face in the form of a decorative scar that runs along her eye.
Vlaana Azleea is absolutely zealous in her goal of serving the Emperor and would do anything for him. This fanatical zeal has given way to some of the biggest atrocities committed during the Second Stellar War. Those acts which were committed during the assault on Ariel Prime has earned her the nickname "The Butcher of Ariel". Despite her notoriety she is rarely seen in the public eye and prefers to leave more open matters in the hands of her two loyal subordinates, Centurions Cezarus and Dracus. Her desire to remain secretive in her actions has bolstered rumors that she may not even exist at all. Some say that she is just a figurehead for the Terran invasion and many in the lower ranks of the Terran army regard her with sheer horror.
One of the great mysteries of the game is Vlaana's exact age, since she was present during the onset of the war (42 years before the game begins) and didn't seem to have aged at all.
- Centurion Dracus
Centurion Dracus is one of two of Imperator Vlaana Azleea's agents involved in the conquest of the Norther Star Alliance. He is present in many military operations on Morningstar Prime and seems to be the commander of the Terran advance into Mornignstar Prime . His overbearing personality and cold manner lead him to taunt the NSA openly on the communication channels. NSA Major Douglas Grant regards him as a "sneaky bastard".
- Centurion Cezarus
Cezarus is the second of two of Imperator Vlaana Azleea's agents. Unlike Dracus, however, he's not directly involved in conflict and makes repeated official surrender taunts on communication channels. He is stationed in Krig 7-B.
The Viron Nomads
- G'Hall Vi'Cath
G'Hall Vicath is the supreme spiritual and military leader of the Viron nomads, as well as leader of Clan Kre'haz. This role gives him the ability to speak for all the Virons and each clan that currently exists. He has served as the Viron Lord for thirty years and he uses the Viron Honor Code (No'He'Khum) for his reasoning that he is the true leader of the Virons.
After the Viron homeworld was conquered by the Terran Empire, G'Hall served the Terrans as leader of a slave army (comparable to the Mamluks or Janissaries). Virons under G'Hall are involved in the Empire's war against the NSA. This move has angered the other Vicaths (clan leaders), but they are unable to act as the Empire controls the supply of Zethane, a trace gas required by the Virons to survive.
- Drahk'Mar Vi'Cath
Drahk'Mar Vi'Cath is the leader of Clan Hroag. Unlike his superior G'Hall Vi'Cath, he has no love for the Terran Empire and wants no part in helping them in their conquest. Drahk'Mar loathes the Terran Empire for destroying the Viron homeworld and he along with the rest of Clan Hroag actively fight against their Terran oppressors. G'Hall branded them traitors to his new regime and the Viron race and had them subsequently imprisoned. After being rescued by Captain Jacob Angelus, the Clan Hroag were liberated and thus Drahk'Mar has sworn an oath of loyalty to Angelus and his struggle for the safety of the NSA. Lord of Ni'vahr Tzen, the Clan Hroag base in the Tzah'Norrs Crossion island chain on Morningstar Prime.
- Khau'Nir Vi'Cath
Vicath of Clan Haxduum. His people were used as slave labour, until liberated by Captain Jacob Angelus. He, like Drahk'Mar, swore to defend the NSA against the Terran Empire.
The Intergalactic Trade Guild
- Hervon Dreznor
Merchant for the ITG, he has links with the NSA Armed Forces and provides them with weaponry and vehicles, for the right price!
- ↑ Tactical Combat and an Ongoing Online Experience are the focus of "Ground Control II". Gamezone. Retrieved on 16 December 2006 (Massive Entertainment's Henrik Sebring, lead developer for Ground Control II: Operation Exodus, describes the game as real-time tactics)
- ↑ Ground Control II: Operation Exodus (pc: 2004): Reviews