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Real-Time Strategy






KD-LABS / Perimeter



T (Teen)



Q2 2004



- Some new additions to the RTS genre

- Great-looking game

- Quite a bit different than most other RTS games

- Pause button



- Graphics engine can tax even powerful machines

- Can be difficult to see what’s going on at times



Review: Ground Control II (PC)

Review: Impossible Creatures (PC)

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Score: 8.5 / 10


I’m firmly convinced that more real-time strategy (RTS) games need a pause button as graphic engines become more powerful and are able to render thousands of units (instead of the a few dozen like in the original Dune).  The minds behind Perimeter, one of the more innovative RTS games to come along in a while, included an obvious pause button.  This acts in Perimeter’s favor because the developers have also produced one of the most gorgeous and visually dense games I’ve seen – RTS or otherwise.  With so much in the way of lighting effects flying about and the scale of units, not making full use of the pause button is suicide.  Plus, Perimeter has a lot of strategic depth that can only really be utilized with the pause button.


perimeter review          perimeter review


There’s a somewhat interesting storyline – and extremely catchy theme music – to propel the action but it’s not as important as what Perimeter brings to the table: the ability to terraform your surroundings and nanomorph units.  Intrinsic to both aspects is managing your energy stores.


Perimeter’s resource gathering renders down to drilling the landscape with energy cores to create a power grid-type arrangement that allows you to move your Frame (a colonist transport which acts as your base of operations) and extracts energy, which is the currency to do everything in the game (i.e. creating buildings, creating and morphing units, etc.).  Although they do a good job extracting energy, they do 




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an even better job blanketing the surrounding area in an impenetrable force field.  When energy cores are grouped close together, the wider the force field but also the larger the expenditure in energy stores to keep the shield up.  Having the shields drop at the wrong moment can spell doom pretty quick.  It’s a very tricky balancing act that really adds to the strategic elements, but back to the terraforming and nanomorphing.



Terramorphing the ground is one of the cooler aspects of Perimeter to watch in fast forward as little units level or raise selected areas.  To build your base, level ground is required so you’ll be terramorphing quite a bit, but not as much as you’ll be nanomorphing units.  Unit creation can be thought of as a pyramid, where a mess of base units can combine to become more powerful units.  Those base units are broken down into three types: Technicians, Soldiers, and Officiers.  Apart, they’re weak, weak units – not to mention hard to spot on the battlefield because they’re so damn small! – but when combined, you can create powerful units on the fly.  It’s almost like the units are Play-Doh and you can change them up as you go to suite a given situation or objective (as long as you have the right mix of units).


perimeter review          perimeter review


It’s the combination of all three – energy, terramorphing, nanomorphing – that creates a great offensive/defensive balance not found in many RTS games.  Of course, it can take a while to get into the action.  It wasn’t until about the third or fourth mission (after the tutorials) that I really started to groove on Perimeter’s style.


The computer AI always poses a stiff opposition – almost too stiff on some scores – so it’s always a challenge.  However, it becomes somewhat predictable making repeated play-throughs of the sci-fi story less likely.  For a change of pace, try out the multiplayer via GameSpy or one of the long list of individual scenarios.


As I stated at the beginning of the review, Perimeter is a graphically intense game.  If you want to show off your new rig, crank up Perimeter’s details. (Don't worry if your rig isn't top of the line -- it runs pretty well on mid- and lower-range PCs of today.)  There’s a certain amount of “oooh!” factor to the presentation, but there are some downsides, like the aforementioned difficultly of finding the smaller units during chaotic battles.  The camera is relatively robust, allowing you to zoom in and around for a comfortable view. (And with the pause button, there are time’s you’ll just want to zoom in and take a closer look.)


The real-time strategy genre seems to be pretty crowded at the moment but Perimeter is should definitely be on the “To Play’ list of any RTS gamer.  It has a great balance and will draw you in with its depth thanks to some innovation, and is fun, even if it’s fun in a serious way.


- Omni

(July 2, 2004)


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