posted 8/18/2004 by Tyler Sager
other articles by Tyler Sager
One Page Platforms: PC
The units themselves add another unique twist to Perimeter. There are three basic unit types, Officers, Soldiers, and Technicians. These units are pretty much useless by themselves, but when combined in certain ratios, they have the ability to morph into much more powerful units. As neat as this is, there are a few quirks to get used to. Basic units are grouped as squads, and only one squad is initially available for control (additional squads can be formed by building “command centers”). The entire squad has to morph into the same kind of advanced unit, so it’s difficult to create a diverse assault force. In addition, there is a population cap of 250 basic units. Since some of the more impressive advanced units are comprised of more than 60 basic units, it doesn’t take long to fill up to the limit. So instead of immense waves of forces, attacks usually consist of quick strikes of specialty units, sometimes morphing those units as needed. It’s quite cool to create a pack of powerful laser tanks, pummel the enemy, and when attacked by those pesky aircraft, morph into rocket tanks and take care of the problem. Getting the basic unit combinations set up for the various morphings is quite an entertaining challenge.

Each faction also sports 4 unique advanced units, most of which are very impressive. The Exodus has the ability to control the elements themselves, and so it has units able to generate building-destroying earthquakes and tornadoes. The Harkback can control the vile Scourge, as their unique units can bring forth Scourge Spiders, Sharks, and even the havoc-causing Scourge Dragon. The Empire has one of the most devastating unique units, the Piercer, an underground missile that can completely tear through the enemy base in a single pass. These units are quite costly to research and use a very large number of basic units, but they are often game-turning when brought into play.

The single player campaign is quite good, if a bit confusing. The scenarios jump from faction to faction throughout the game, telling the story of the various Frames on their journey through the fragmented Chain. It’s actually not a bad story, but it does get a little fuzzy at times as it tries to explain just why the universe is in its current, rather disjointed condition. Most of the missions feel distinct, and many feel more like a puzzle than a conquest. This is not a bad thing, but it does limit the replayability since it’s possible to “solve” most of the missions. Very few of the missions are actually Frame vs. Frame, and even fewer end in the destruction of the enemy. Most goals involve holding off the enemy, be it Scourge or Frame, while trying to find and activate a portal to continue the journey to another of the fragmented worlds. I found this puzzle-oriented campaign to be very entertaining, but it may not be for everyone. The campaign as a whole is quite a bit more difficult than those of many of the more recent RTS games. That, when combined with a rather steep learning curve, may turn some players off. Perimeter is not a quick game to “jump right in”. That being said, the single-player campaign takes players through that learning curve at a good pace, never overwhelming as it focuses on a new aspect of the game. After that, a skirmish mode is available both against the AI and against other human opponents.

Perimeter looks great. Just watching the brigadiers terraform the land is a treat, as the little antlike robots scurry around and change the face of the map. The landscape itself is completely alterable, either through terraforming or through the destruction brought about from fighting. The units all look unique, although the basic units are quite small and difficult to distinguish from each other. Since they’re usually grouped in various squads, however, this isn’t much of a problem. Buildings are also easily recognizable, so it’s a simple matter to target and destroy the enemy’s anti-grav lab so they can’t keep sending out those pesky bombers. Everything sounds good as well, although the constant unit confirmation chatter gets annoying at times. Control is typical RTS fare, which is serviceable but not outstanding. A word of warning: all of these great graphics come at a price, as Perimeter can be quite a resource hog. On my aging computer, things got a bit chuggy at times, even at the lower resolutions. Take a good look at the system requirements before trying this out.

Perimeter is just one of those games that you’ll either really enjoy or you won’t care for much at all. I enjoyed all the unique aspects of terraforming, unit transformation, and using the Perimeter field, but for some this may just be too much complexity in an RTS. It’s definitely worth a look, and those wanting another fresh and innovative RTS will be in for a treat.

An innovative RTS with some unique and complex gameplay. Those looking for something new and different will certainly find it here.

Page 2 of 2