Ground Control is a real-time strategy game that practically completely lacks economic development of any kind. Configure landing ships, configure squads, and off you go. The freely turnable camera is a good interface, and the graphics are quite good for its age. However, I recommend that you familiarize yourself with the subtleties of the units in the singleplayer at least in a few missions, as you can't compensate for anything if you messed up your squads configuration. Just this much: Heavy Hover-/Terradyns can withstand a lot, but they are damn slow. And not every type of unit can attack air units.
You can either buy GC as a CD version on various online platforms like Ebay or Amazon from the private seller or dealer. Or you can get it via GOG. The game is actually worth it. The GOG price of 5.50 € is anything but too expensive for the game plus expansion.
The game has a copy protection (SecuRom 3.17). In order to play from a CD image you need to emulate the copy protectors at Daemon Tools. CloneCD for creating an image or a copy has proven to be useful in this respect. There are several patches in circulation which all have one thing in common: They only work with the version for which they are intended and the language for which they were made. So a patch from version 188.8.131.52 to 184.108.40.206 only patches version 220.127.116.11, but not for example 18.104.22.168. The English patch also refuses to be installed on a German installation and vice versa. The latest version is 22.214.171.124, but the language version does not affect the crack. If you copy an (allegedly) English crack over a German or French version, the language is unaffected. It will then continue to indicate at the bottom right of the game that it is a German or French version. So as always: Install, patch, then copy the crack over if necessary. The latter only makes sense if you have already installed the extension – unless you don't want it at all. The Dark Conspiracy expansion has 15 new missions (directly continuing the GC storyline) and a few more units, along with new maps. It also creates a shortcut (unless you have deselected it) that starts the expansion. Technically this is only a mod. So it doesn't come with its own binary or something, but is started with the usual
GC.exe. The Windows link in the start menu or on the desktop is designed so that the extension is started instead of the normal GC. The start parameters to load the mod look like this:
path\to\gc.exe -mod DARKCONS
The link essentially does nothing else. But if it gets lost, you can create it yourself with the start parameters. Cracks do not only work with the basic game, but also with the expansion.
Under Win 7 x64 the game can be played just as well as under XP x86. But what happens sometimes are incompatibilities with a certain hardware. There have been cases reported where the game ran so slowly on a PC with Dualcore 2.4 GHz and an ATI Radeon Mobility 2600 XT that it was fast on a Pentium III with Riva TNT 2 in comparison to that. Driver updates may help here.
There is also a Full HD patch in circulation, where the game is started with the switch
-1600, which uses the resolution 1920×1080, if you delete the file
data\gcvideo.dat before. Advantage: No more distorted 4:3 images and more overview. Disadvantage: Less accurate clicking and especially the graphical controls are even smaller. This also applies to the map overview, both in the small and in the enlarged view.
For Internet games, ports 15001, 15101, 15200, 20000-21000, and 25000-25499 (TCP + UDP) should be enabled. However, this is relatively meaningless, because there are no dedicated servers anymore, because the WON servers have been shut down in the meantime. There is also a dedicated server on the Internet, but it would also report to the WON servers that no longer exist. So you can forget it. Direct IP input is not possible, so this Decicated has relatively little sense. There is, however the possibility, to use GameRanger so start games over the Internet. But this has not been tested yet. Allegedly GC is played on the Internet relatively active (for the age of the game).