Perimeter promises to be a revolution in the RTS genre. “Real-time Strategy reborn” as the marketing boys state it. Terraforming (making the terrain flat), transforming (units melting together to form other units) and surrounding your base by impenetrable force fields are the most important ‘novelties’ here. If an experienced rts-gamer looks at these elements, he/she might think that publishers Codemasters/1C Company and developer K-D Lab are somewhat lying since all those features have been seen in several other RTS games. Never-the-less, reality is different and actually playing the game reveals that these so-called novelties are all very essential to the gameplay and that they have been worked out much more than in any other game of this genre, and thus a pretty unique gameplay-combination is presented to us.
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In the beginning you got to get used to everything, although the interface is practical enough. The look of everything seems truly ‘alien’, especially the environments. For those who can’t stand such a beautiful alien habitat or perhaps need more energy (your only resource) and room to build, there is a possibility of terraforming the land. The terrain is made flat in no time by numerous small bot, sent by building vehicles . Not everything can be terraformed but hey, a completely flat playground would get boring pretty, wouldn’t it? The maps don’t have a fog of war and are surrounded by some kind of grey ‘water’ which sometimes is seen in pools on other places of the map. Other strange things in the landscape are the spawning places of ‘the Scourge’, a collection of some wicked looking monstrosities, whose goal is to destroy your base. You can withstand these hordes with your forcefields. When enough generators are placed in and around your base and when a Scourge pack is near, you can activate them all at the same time with just a single click. This has two effects: the Scourge runs itself into oblivion against these energy walls but during the activated period, your energy will be drained faster than you can imagine. Activating only a couple of strategically placed generators at the right time is less costly. Also, your energy level slowly regenerates after a while. Once the enemy destroys your Stargate-like mothership (the Frame) the game is over.
Aside from the usual turrets and your forcefieldperimeter there are also military units available in order to counter your enemies. There is a wide variety in them, the only unusual thing about it is the fact that you always control squads. When you need an extra squad of units you’ll need to create a command centers each time. It makes things a bit slower but once a squad is out in the open there is the great advantage of transforming. At any time a squad can transform into other units as long as you have the necessary technology for it. No transformation is permanent so you can change your units to whatever suits you best for the present combat situation (e.g. if the Scourge attacks from the air the squad can be transformed into anti-air units). Your building units are all seperate but you can have only five of them. Maybe an odd choice but it obliges you to use them wisely where needed.
Perimeter also looks nice, the 3D-environment changes beautifully under the influence of earthquakes or other disasters, the light- and lasereffects are top-notch and the buildings really look like they were designed by a futuristic race. The units and the Scourge look good too, although I noticed some minor clipping problems every now and then. The camera can be rotated, you can zoom in and out a little a bit but most of the time a higher view is preferable since things can get quite messy sometimes, especially with the units all looking relatively small. The sound does what it’s supposed to do and the music is the right fit for this game. The buildup of the limited campaign that was available in this previewcode was linear but it was challenging none-the-less because of the sofisticated enemy AI. Your own units act weird sometimes (like running in the deadly grey ‘water’ pools) but overall it’s nothing to worry about. Next to the campaign there is a multiplayer option and the singleplayer ‘Battle’ mode. This last one is actually just a skirmish in which you can fight against other sides with their own Frame and base. There is also a possibility to play a game against the Scourge, the goal then is to hold out as long as possible. A pity that nothing really new is present here in these gameoptions.
The negative points brought up in this article are not a disaster if you realise I played a pretty old previewcode (65% of the code was finished) from a month or two ago. Perimeter has gone gold recently and it looks like the game will offer a fun and refreshing rts experience on the 21st of May, definitely when I take in consideration that I already had much fun with this version. With the necessary finishing touch Perimeter might be the only RTS this year to bring a whole new experience.