Ground Control II: Operation Exodus
|Ground Control II: Operation Exodus|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
Ground Control II: Operation Exodus is a 2004 real-time tactics video game developed by Massive Entertainment. 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.
Similar to the first Ground Control, Operation Exodus focuses on combat tactics rather than base construction or managing an economy. However, unlike its purely real-time tactics predecessor, Ground Control II has a resource system called acquisition. Acquisition points are earned through the capturing of victory locations and destruction of enemy forces and 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 predecessor and moves along at a pace similar to real-time strategy games such as Command & 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 non-playable faction featured only in the single-player campaign. The two playable sides feature 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 infantry, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, aircraft, artillery, and static emplacements. Unlike Ground Control, however, unit customization is unavailable; each individual unit features a fixed secondary function.
The story of Ground Control II takes place in that same universe as that of the original game but starts 320 years later and has little in common with the original game. The human race has discovered faster than light travel and has colonized the galaxy. There are two groups of colonies in this universe, dubbed the Inner Sphere and Outer Sphere. A fictional physical phenomenon causes the communications between the two area to be only possible through a network of special relay stations built at the border of the spheres. Intergalactic travel is also impossible due to a fictional unexplained barrier between the galaxies.
After the battle of Krig-7b that took place in the original video game, Major Sarah Parker (the original game's protagonist) destroyed the Earth's early warning relay station, commandeered a battlecruiser called CSS Astrid (seen in the original game) and escaped. In the next centuries, a stellar war that lasted 70 years changed the political layout of the colonies. A colony called Draconis Empire subjugated the Inner Sphere and established the Empire of Terra. It destroyed the communication relays, severing communications with the Outer Sphere. The next two hundred years was the age of strife for the Outer Sphere, for they had to rediscover the precious knowledge to which they no longer had access. Eventually, the Outer Sphere colonies formed two interstellar states: The Northern Star Alliance (NSA) and the Intergalactic Trade Guild (ITG). After the two hundred years however, the Empire of Terra invaded the Outer Sphere and began taking over the NSA. In 40 years of battle that followed, the Empire took most of the NSA territory and finally invaded the Morningstar Prime, the capital of NSA.
The game begins with Captain Jacob Angelus becoming a field commander for the NSA. Despite Captain Angelus's "exceptional" battlefield performance, it is clear that NSA cannot win this war and it is only a matter of time before the Empire overwhelm them. However, an unknown spacecraft crashes on Morningstar Prime which Captain Angelus secures. NSA scientists who study the craft reveal that Major Parker outfitted CSS Astrid with an ancient device called a Singularity Drive that enables the ship to bypass the intergalactic barrier and travel to other galaxies. NSA plans to use the ship to evacuate NSA citizens to another galaxy, where the Empire cannot follow. Angelus is sent to find CSS Astrid but his search is complicated by Imperial forces in pursuit. Eventually, CSS Astrid is recovered and brought back to Morningstar Prime.
On Morningstar Prime, Captain Angelus must deal with the treachery of an NSA general as well as the arrival of fresh Imperial reinforcements. A tragic final battle takes place in which Captain Angelus and his allies help evacuating anyone they can to CSS Astrid and see to their safe departure. Despite all the efforts, the Imperials destroy an entire detachment of NSA forces as well as an NSA shuttle, presumably loaded with passengers. Captain Angelus himself does not make it to CSS Astrid and is stranded on Morningstar Prime.
The Northern Star Alliance (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. The war however, upset everything for them. The NSA use conventional ballistic weaponry and traditional wheeled or tracked land vehicles known as terradynes, just as Crayven Corporation did in the previous game. NSA units are generally more durable but slower than their Viron or Terran counterparts. Their heaviest vehicle, Ravager Terradyne, has more firepower and armor than any other vehicle, but moves the slowest. The NSA forces cannot cross waterways without air transport.
- Jacob Angelus (Chris Edgerly): Captain Jacob Angelus is the protagonist of the game; the player plays through his perspective. He maintains a brutal tactical prowess, and his natural charisma draws notice from his superiors and close friends. Angelus was not trusted by General Warhurst, due to his presumed lack of ability. However, he soon proves his mettle on the battlefield. Despite being acutely aware of the futility of the struggle against the Terran Empire, Angelus continues to serve the NSA. Upon evacuating Morningstar Prime, he stays behind to ensure the safe departure of his people. Angelus has a noticeable British accent.
- Tai Han Rho (Hank Jacobs): Sergeant Tan Hai Rho is a sniper in Captain Angelus's company that excels in reconnaissance, demolition and hacking. He is a personal friend of Angelus. 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. He has a very bad reputation for being a souvenir hunter; an attempt to collect Imperator Vlaana's "boots" nearly cost him his life. Sergeant Rho is a playable combat unit in several missions.
- Aranis Guderian Warhurst (Duane R. Shepard Sr.): General Aranis Warhurst is the commander-in-chief of the NSA forces. He is presented as a no-nonsense personality, who often tells Angelus exactly what to do and does not give his subordinates time to joke around on the job. Warhurst leads the battle against the Empire of Terra for forty years. However, he eventually betrays NSA and attempts to help the Empire take Morningstar Prime without a fight and is killed by Captain Angelus.
- Douglas Grant (Charles Dennis): 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 and tends to act unorthodox in many ways but he is a good man through and through. Unlike Warhurst, his rank does not affect his "communication skills" with his fellow officers, including Captain Jacob Angelus. Major Grant loses his wife, Antonia, during the attack of the pro-Empire Viron clan. He himself disappears halfway through the game. Later it is revealed that he was secretly held prisoner by the traitor General Warhurst who planned to hand him over to Empire. After being freed, he and his forces help evacuate Morningstar.
- Michelle LaCroix (Kath Soucie): Lieutenant Michelle LaCroix is another officer in the NSA. She has a distinct French accent. She appears in a handful of mission and is eventually murdered while sleeping in her quarters, presumably by an agent of General Warhurst.
- Alice McNeal (Traci Lords): Dr. Alice McNeal is the head of the NSA's Science Directorate. McNeal is a close friend and love interest of Jacob Angelus. Her role in the plot is reminiscent of a damsel in distress, as three missions require the player to escort or rescue her in some way. She leads the exodus of Morningstar aboard CSS Astrid.
Formerly the Draconis Empire, the Empire of Terra (commonly known as Terran Empire) wishes to conquer the entire galaxy and rule upon all humanity by sheer force. Imperator Vlaana Azleea leads the imperial offensive against the NSA. The Terrans boast sheer numerical superiority. The Empire of Terra features two types of combat vehicles. The first are combat hovercrafts called hoverdynes, which are more maneuverable than the NSA terradynes. The second are striders, large bipedal mechs armed with autocannon or missiles. The Empire of Terra also features three defensive turrets: anti-infantry guns, anti-armor cannons and the all-around powerful Pulverizer grand cannons. Imperial units are equipped with energy weapons, which often equal or supersede their opponent's projectile weaponry in terms of damage. The Empire uses a military ranking model similar to that of the Ancient Rome; their foot soldiers, field commanders and generals are respectively called legionnaires, centurions and imperators. The Empire's use of hoverdynes, energy- or flame-based weapons and the red as their main color is reminiscent of the Order of New Dawn in the original video game. Although the Terran Empire appears throughout the campaign, it is not a playable multiplayer faction.
- Vlaana Azleea (Kath Soucie): The unaging Imperator Vlaana Azleea is the primary antagonist of the game. She is the commander-in-chief of the Imperial invasion fleet. Secretive and secluded, she is known as "The Butcher of Ariel" for a rare and bloody personal appearance on the battlefield. So reclusive is she that some believe she is a legend only.
- Dracus (Scott Bullock): Centurion Dracus is an Imperial field commander in many military operations on Morningstar 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". Dracus is eventually killed during the final mission.
- Centurion Cezarus (Brian George): Cezarus is another Imperial field commander and a peer of Dracus. He only appears in missions of Krig 7-B. He makes repeated official surrender taunts on communication channels. Cezarus however meets his fate in a battle against Captain Angelus where his APC is destroyed and he is left wounded and disfigured. Later, he helps Captain Angelus by giving him a critical piece of information but he spend his last seconds of life giving one of his arrogant speeches.
Virons are a reclusive race of bipedal creatures who lived on a planet in the Ragnorak Nebula. Virons breathe the fictional zethane gas instead of oxygen. They were first discovered by Sarah Parker in the fictional 25th century, in the interregnum period between the two games. The clan-based Virons resisted all efforts at diplomacy. The Empire of Terra however, invaded Ragnorak Nebula and rendered Virons' planet uninhabitable, forcing Virons to live aboard seven clan ships. The Empire succeeds in coercing one of the Viron clans to fight for the Empire in exchange for amnesty and zethane. Other Viron clans however, did not comply in spite of the threat. Halfway through the game, one of the Viron clans is convinced to take NSA for an ally. Virons vastly employ biotechnology. Their armed combat hovercrafts, called centruroids bear an 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. Damaged Viron units slowly regain lost health. In Viron language, name precedes military rank; they always call the game's protagonist "Angelus Captain".
- G'Hall (Steve Blum): G'Hall Vi'Cath has for thirty years been the Vi'Cath (supreme spiritual and military leader) of the Virons, 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. 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 Vi'Cath, but they are unable to act as the Empire controls the supply of zethane, a trace gas required by the Virons to survive. G'Hall is eventually killed by Captain Angelus and his forces in battle.
- Drahk'Mar (Ron Canada): Drahk'Mar Vi'Cath is the leader of Clan Hroag. Drahk'Mar loathes the Terran Empire for destroying the Viron home world and actively fights Terrans. 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.
- Khau'Nir (Steve Blum): Vi'Cath of Clan Haxduum. His people were used as slave labor on planet Krig-7b, until liberated by Captain Jacob Angelus. Like Drahk'Mar, he swore to fight the Terran Empire to death.
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