Let me start with a disclaimer - I've been unhappy with RTS games in their standard form for quite some time now. WarCraft III was the first to start getting under my skin but it really hasn't gotten better since. The genre is stale, relying on a single formula that few dare deviate from. Ground Control did so and succeeded. Ground Control II, for some reason, remodels the franchise along standard RTS lines.
While generally getting positive reviews with the occasional glowing remark, Ground Control II simply doesn't impress here. It has removed just about every feature that made the original unique and substituted those with Standard RTS Design. Squads? Gone - get used to playing with single units… oh right, you already are used to it from every other RTS out there
. Tough choices to make when choosing units for a mission's start? That's been taken out of your hands anyway. You'll get your units and you'll like them. Freedom from defending resource bases? That's been taken away and now you have to worry about control points.
Ground Control II commits every RTS sin ever. It hassles you with tedious bouts of micromanagement. Those units you left behind to protect a drop zone - well, the jeeps (AKA light terradynes) got blown up because the enemy wasn't in range of the infantry and the infantry didn't feel like helping their dying friends. Instead, they'd rather sit back, relax, get pummeled by enemy units which they won't attack in return because the enemy is too far to shoot at. GC2 likes to tout this feature as "dealing with the enemy on multiple fronts". I like to think of it as "defending arbitrarily selected control points to split the player's forces so as to increase the work involved in dealing with inadequate AI".
Half the time the enemy AI won't even make a real, honest grab for the control points. Rather, they'll sneak in some cheap, single unit and take possession while you're not looking. It's like those insipid situations in the Battlefield games where a lone pilot ejects way behind enemy lines and captures a flag all by himself. Sure, that turned the tide, but it's a cheap, abusive, annoying tactic. It forces players to have the boring task of babysitting otherwise worthless flag points. Unreal Tournament 2004 showed us a much better way of playing like this in its Onslaught mode - if you want a flag, you need the flags leading to it. Even real wars are fought like this.