Units in the game include various types of tanks, hovercraft, aircraft, and infantry, and are delivered to the battlefield by orbital dropships. However, once in battle, the player is not able to summon reinforcements, so proper troop selection between levels is a key to success. Each unit type has special weapons, abilities, and armor. Players can choose to customize each unit or let the game auto-select the load-out for each mission. The units of the two factions in the game differ in several areas: the Crayven Corporation has hardier units that rely on traditional ballistics and movement. The Order of the New Dawn's units trade heavy armor for a hover propulsion system that grants them increased speed and mobility, and use energy weaponry that give them more damage potential.
Shortly after the release of its sequel, Ground Control was made available to the public for free.
The game's plot revolves around the conflict between the Crayven Corporation and the Order of the New Dawn for the possession of the distant world of Krig 7-B. In the beginning of the game, the player assumes the role of Major Sarah Parker of the Crayven Corporation as she leads the Crayven forces in order to eliminate the presence of the "Dawnies" (her derogatory nickname in reference to followers of the Order). In the second campaign, the player assumes control of Deacon Jarred Stone in his attempt to drive the "Crays" from the surface of Krig 7-B. During the course of the campaign, however, both characters unravel a dark secret hidden within the depths of the planet, a secret that threatens all mankind, and turns out to be the reason for such interest in what seems to be a desolate fringe world.
Suppressive fire is also simulated; units being suppressed will fire less accurately. Suppression fire can be applied by any unit against stronger opponents; therefore, infantry units can effectively suppress heavy units such as tanks, even if the target is not taking any damage due to armor.
Stealth tactics can be used; units can take advantage of shadows cast by higher terrain to camouflage themselves. Infantry can also use foliage to hide. Thus, commanders too will have to scout ahead of their tanks to preempt any ambushes.
Friendly fire is taken into account; units behind the front lines will shoot friendlies in their lines of fire. Since damage in the rear is multiplied, careful attention to squad placement is required.
Units are organized within squads. While units within a squad move, fight and receive damage as individuals, they must be given orders as a squad. Each squad belongs to a certain category (Infantry, Armour, Support, or Aerodyne), and the player can select the specific unit type for each squad before each battle. For example, a Crayven armour squad can be adjusted to Scout, Light, Main Battle, or Heavy Terradyne roles. Because each unit type has its own strengths and weaknesses, as well as a distinct role, various unit combinations are required in order to achieve success.
Squads are rewarded with experience throughout the campaign, including medals awarded for each squad's combat performance, giving improved abilities. Any losses taken by a squad are replenished at the end of a mission; however, if the whole squad is wiped out, it will be removed and replaced with a new, inexperienced squad in easier difficulty levels.
All units, except for the Command APC, can select one finite special weapon and one special equipment for each mission. Special weapons range from infantry mortars and anti-tank rockets to improved missiles and tactical nuclear warheads. They can be used to improve a squad's effectiveness in its specialized role, or allow it to defeat targets which it would otherwise be virtually ineffective against. Special equipment can include medkits, repair kits, image intensifiers, afterburners, various stationary turrets, or, for the Crayven Corporation, repair stations. Most specials can usually be used two or three times during a level, although the most powerful special abilities, such as the bomber's tactical nuclear warhead, are limited to a single use.
Dropships are used to transport units to the battlefield, and are deployed at the start of a mission (with some exceptions). Each dropship can carry up to four squads regardless of squad type. The player can use up to three dropships (for a total of twelve squads plus the Command APC), although early in the single-player campaign only one or two dropships are assigned to the player.
Most units for one side are similar in function to equivalent units of the other side; some however are quite different. For example, the Order's Templar Infantry is an all-female squadron equipped with powerful anti-tank missile launchers who cannot attack infantry. Their Crayven analogue is Jaeger Infantry - a four-man squad of snipers useful for scouting.
Online play is no longer supported.
A sequel entitled Ground Control II: Operation Exodus was released four years later with an updated graphical engine and story, but with a faster-paced gameplay that is more in line with contemporary real-time strategy games. The most significant introduction to the gameplay was control points and a form of economy.