Hands-on: Perimeter 2

Released back in 2004, KD Labs Perimeter brought something new to the strategy genre; the idea of terra-forming and playing an RTS from a territorial point of view. It’s taken four and half years for the sequel to appear, which was a bit of a surprise considering how much fun the original was.

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The Perimeter 2 story carries on where the original left off, old Earth is dead and after searching for a new home for hundreds of years, the Exodus have now split. Parts of the civilisation decide to return to the dead old Earth leading to two factions fighting over the planet – the Harbacks who control the water and seas, and the Exodus who prefer living on terra-firma. The player joins the fray with the two factions fighting for control of the planet with the Harbacks trying to flood the planet while the Exodus attempt to raise the land to survive.

KD Labs is sticking to the same formula as the original; this game is about territorial domination and shaping the landscape as well as upgrading your units through different tiers. Perimeter is not really about mass gatherings of units storming into an enemy’s base which has become the norm for RTS games these days. Rather, its focus is on territory, upgrades and tactical decisions.

Like the landscape, units can once again transform into different modes. For example, grenadiers can be uitlised in ground attack mode and then transformed into a flying version of the unit. In Perimeter it’s how you use your units that will determine the outcome of a battle, not necessarily how many you build – a key element in the original game that made it stand out. Without wanting to sound too ESPN about it, defense is often the best offense and that’s what makes Perimeter an interesting RTS experience.

With territorial domination playing a huge part in the actual gameplay, like the original, bases can get pretty large, making them hard to defend. Fortunately the shields return in the sequel and strategic activation of energy defense shields around the tower generators. These are essential in base defense but drain your energy quickly. Energy is the game’s currency and is harvested automatically through the generator towers which are deployed by the Buildmaster, a construction unit that transforms into a generator tower when deployed.

The Buildmaster really is the key unit in Perimeter 2, it helps the expansion of territory and serves two purposes, the building of the energy towers and aids in raising the landscape. Energy towers are damaged by water so they need to be raised to above sea level and can be done so through the click of a button in the tower control panel. The land then rises around the energy tower allowing you to build on the landscape.  The element of water playing a factor in the sequel adds to the difficulty, and the constant battle between raising and lowering land between the factions certainly makes for some interesting gameplay and tough decisions.

The all-important energy tower also feeds energy to the buildings – if a building loses connection to an energy tower then it loses power. Effectively the player is creating a network or energy routes to link buildings and keep structures functioning and after a few minutes or so playing a network of linked building and towers can flood the play area. It’s a lot to keep tabs on when under fire.

New in the sequel is the ‘Providence’ – a hand of god-type tool that is used by the player to scoop up land and then raise and rebuild the landscape in a new area.  The ‘Providence’ also harnesses some powerful abilities which the player will need to unlock, abilities that could help gain the upper hand in the battles and can be discovered in the game’s new psy-crystals which are concealed below the landscape.

While the original game engine was no slouch, KD Labs decided to build a new one for the sequel and there are definite improvements including an enhanced camera, nice shiny 3D and much better terra-forming effects.

Perimeter was a pretty crazy game when it was released and the sequel is just as mad. The preview build we have been playing brings back some fond memories of the original game which was extremely addictive and challenging. With the sequel’s 70’s sci-fi mood, eclectic music and robotic voice effects we think this has the potential to charm the PC strategy market when the final version is released.
Perimeter 2 doesn’t have a launch date yet in Europe but it will be hitting North American retail shelves on the 10th of February, published by Strategy First.

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Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.