This series is dragging, let’s finish it.
The main problem faced with traversing the Chain – according to the narrative, at least – is that the presence of humans triggers the appearance of the Scourge, a vast array of alien beings that head straight for your base to destroy the Frame. The Spirits think that they are the physical manifestation of people’s nightmares.
In theory, it’s an interesting aspect of the setting. In practice, the people living in the Frames have some very unimaginative dreams, and those dreams are consistently unimaginative for several hundred years. Also unexplained is why no one has nightmares during a battle with another Frame. Battling via remote-controlled robots creates a lot of adrenaline, I guess.
Maps involving Scourge rather than other Frames are an exercise in tedium. The Scourge come in large numbers, and are more time-consuming to take down than they are challenging. Since they frequently respawn, these maps just become a long grind to the objective. What was their purpose? It’s possible they were included to give a break from the Frame missions, but the length of them undermines this.
Even worse is the map with no enemies at all, where the mission is to move your frame to the portal at the other end of the map, endlessly retreating when a volcano appears, covering it, and moving on again. And no, you can’t just make a run for it. I showed what one volcano in the last spotlight. Imagine having to move right over three or five of them.
Between these and the tendency of later missions against enemy Frames to be brutally unfair lessons in your ability to save every time something goes wrong, the campaign becomes frustrating in the latter stages. I’ll be honest, the reason I took so long to finish this is that the sudden difficulty spikes burnt me out – not because I couldn’t get through them, but because I had no incentive to do so. I reached the last mission when I played this game before, but now I don’t have the patience. I’m going to sum up my feelings on the game, and move on.
When Perimeter came out, the marketing was a-gush about how it was going to change the RTS genre with its new ideas. They were excited about how the units worked, and about how many polygons the engine could deal with for the terrain manipulation. The game box itself subtitled the name with “Real Time Strategy Reborn”, and that’s how it appears throughout the game itself. It might not be as tediously unnecessary as most subtitles are these days, but it’s a lot more arrogant.
The claimed changes to the genre obviously haven’t happened. Why?
The first reason is simply that units that change types repeatedly aren’t appropriate for most of the milieu that strategy games take place in. Many strategy games involve armies comprised of people, and people are usually given rather specialised training: you’re not going to see a bunch of ground squaddies suddenly start flying a squadron of Lancaster bombers.
The second reason is similar: the terrain modifying. I talked before about what a nice concept this was, but its implementation left much to be desired. The textured terrain appears oddly stretched after being morphed, which doesn’t give any favours to a game which is pretty drab in appearance to begin with.
To sum Perimeter up, it had some interesting ideas, but the gameplay was not what it could have been. If the ideas sound interesting to toy with, it could be worth a look.
So this first series ends with a whimper. I might come back to it some day, but for now we’ll press on. Next up is Theocracy. I’ve also started a game of Dominions 3 by email with a friend, so we’ll start posting about that once we can start discussing our strategies without showing our hands to each other.