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Ground Control: Dark Conspiracy Review
publisher: Sierra Studios
developer: High Voltage Software
P233, 32MB RAM, 500MB HDD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Dec 14, 00 (released)
|» All About Ground Control: Dark Conspiracy on ActionTrip|
Only a couple of months passed since the expansion pack for Ground Control had been announced and it's already finished. One of the most inventive real-time strategies got the sorely needed revitalization as most of the fans and gaming communities withered in the meantime. It seems as though the publishers were aware of this and so they decided to liven up the scene and possibly make some more people buy the original Ground Control disk by giving the Dark Conspiracy free of charge to anyone who purchased the original Ground Control.
I have to admit that this move did make me quite happy as it gave me a chance to wipe the dust of my GC disk, and stick it into the computer once more. I remembered all the thrills I had while playing the original and how addictive it was. The wonderful graphics and those great artillery units are to blame for most of the time I spent on Ground Control.
Dark Conspiracy expansion pack comes form the Chicago-based High Voltage Software, which can best be remembered for several sports games in whose creation they participated, like: NFL Quarterback Club and NBA Inside Drive. They slightly reoriented to strategies, yet in a relatively simple way: they were only in charge of creating new units, maps and multiplayer mods using an existing 3D engine... Visually, the only improvement in this FREE (I had to mention that once more) add-on is the obviously far better quality of cut-scenes. Dark Conspiracy corrected the only major visual downside of Ground Control, so now you'll be able to see our lovely commander Sarah in the intro and some other really great animations...
Dark Conspiracy takes up the story where the original Ground Control left it - the battle for the Krig-7b ended, but the war has only begun. Things changed a lot. A doomsday faction of Order of the New Dawn is convinced they must "cleanse" the galaxy of life to appease their god. The stockpiling of alien technology on Krig-7b seems to have been only the first step in a well-devised plan. Commander Sarah Parker and Deacon Jarred Stone have to face the new problem, and so they turned their backsides to the old allies and formed a new alliance.
This is why you have to get back into that APC and return to the old war. There's altogether 15 new missions which will remind you of all upsides and downsides of each unit, which isn't that bad as the original Ground Control only had twice as much missions. The intensely developing plot and the improved cut-scene are the best aspects of the single player mode. After the first couple of missions you'll get to meet a new faction, The Phoenix that will leave Krig, and continue the campaign throughout the galaxy. This refreshed the appearance of Ground Control, and you can well see that the people at High Voltage Software tried to push the limits of the old engine as far as possible. Terrain layout is much different, and all the maps are pretty big...
Apart from that, there are indeed few novelties. If somebody showed me the thing after a couple of months, I wouldn't be able to tell if it were the original game or the add-on. Not even the new Phoenix fraction could change the feeling you get from this game... you only get slightly different units and weapons. For instance, the plasma grenadiers will now counter the old torpedo infantry, etc. All is well balanced just like it used to be in the original and there will be no need to spend much time in order to get used to the new stuff. I must admit I really loved commanding the heavy tanks, especially in the first missions where they are practically unbeatable. I easily overpowered entire armies with only two tanks in a line and an APC re-supplying them from behind. Apart from the Phoenix, the well known Crayven and Order of the New Dawn units got some enhancements as well. First, there are the mech-like units: Badger for the Order of the New Dawn and Gibbon for the Crayven Forces. Order of the New Dawn can now also recruit light infantry, the so called "Faithful", and the Crayvenites are now equipped with stronger radars which have a better range. It is a real shame they didn't introduce more novelties. I still expect that one day you'll be able to squish infantry units with Terradynes, that there will be nerve gas which would make the units go crazy... Maybe even introduce some sort of simple resource management?!
You won't see the long-awaited save-game feature here either, but if you managed to pull the 30 missions of Ground Control, finishing off 15 more shouldn't pose much of a problem, should it? And if you happened to play Project IGI in the meantime, you're probably going around saying "Save-games? We don't need no stinkin' save-games!"
The multiplayer mode has also been expanded a bit. There are 13 new maps made by the original developer, Massive Entertainment. The game features several new mods, which should please the MP fans... There is a mod in which the countless computer guided units attack players, and the last surviving human player is the victor. There are also CTF-like missions in which you have to capture your opponents' drop zones or supply trucks (so called "Trucker's Nightmare").
All in all, if you did finish the Ground Control, but you still feel like it, and are in need of a reason to reinsert that disk in the drive... For only $4.95 (or $6.95 in Canada) you have to pay for shipping and packaging there's absolutely no reason for you not to order the Dark Conspiracy. Just try to do it in time. If your order form reaches Sierra before March 3rd 2001, you'll have several more days of fun...
Storyline, cut-scenes, new faction and IT'S ALL FREE!
Very few novelties.
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