Video Game / Perimeter

Perimeter is a Science Fiction Real-Time Strategy Game created by K-D Lab and released by Codemasters in 2004. An Expansion Pack, Emperor's Testament, was released by Paradox Interactive in 2006; a sequel, Perimeter II: New Earth, came out in 2009.

Perimeter had a number of notable gimmicks that make it stand out - the first being deformable terrain. In fact, Terraforming the land was a key part of anyone's essential strategies in the game, essentially becoming the Lumber resource in addition to a huge number of other tactical purposes. In addition, all of your buildings were linked by an Energy Grid. This grid powered buildings in a small radius, but its biggest boon was activating the titular Perimeter shield, an impenetrable defence shield that blocked any attacks for a short period of time. The final big gimmick was that there were basically three units - Soldiers, Officers and Technicians who shoot enemies, prevent enemies from attacking and healing your units respectively - but these units could be used to morph into more powerful forms.

The story is also unique for a Real Time Strategy game - A group of humans known as Spirits foresaw the destruction of Earth due to the ravages of our time, which lead to them discovering the Psychosphere - a realm of Human thought and imagination that also acts as a way to reach new worlds. As such, they build the keys to saving Humanity - the Frames - enormous City Ships housing the entire remaining population of the Human Race, and the Portals - which are used to travel the Sphere.However, all does not go to according to the plan. Eventually a rebellion on one of the frames violently overthrows the Spirits governing one of the Frames. These Rebels call themselves the Harkbackhood, and start proceeding back down the paths already created by the passing of the Frames. Eventually however, a third group is introduced, intent on creating a Cybernetic Empire within the Sphere itself.

Perimeter provides examples of the following tropes:

  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: One of the victory contitions for skirmish/multiplayer is to capture the enemy's buildings.
  • All There in the Manual: The old P-files had a lot more lore about the world of Perimeter, which is never mentioned in the game itself. Including why Earth was abandoned: Psycosphere, and thus Scourge, had began to pour into Earth itself, making it too dangerous for humans to inhabit. Spirits then took over the Frames and creates pseudo-religious facist orders in order to limit humans emotions and make Scourge more manageable
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Subverted, the "conspiracy" actually does benefit mankind in the long run. The Exodus symbol is the Freemason angle-ruler-and-compass.
  • Arm Cannon: Basic soldiers have two-a triple-barreled rocket launcher, and a minigun.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: Zig-Zagged. Every faction has the same basic footsoldier, rocket, laser, artillery, aircraft, and subterrainean units, but can get faction-specific units by building a unique laboratory structure, and some factions can't use certain shared units.
  • Covers Always Lie: On the cover, the Perimeter Shield comes out of the Frame's core. In gameplay, it's generated by your energy towers, and doesn't cover the frame at all.
  • Deflector Shield: The emponymous Perimiter. It's invincible, and anything that touches it takes massive damage. However, it's extremely energy intensive.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: The Exodus stance towards the Empire. The Emperor seeks to remove all human emotions by turning everyone into cyborgs and slaves to his will, therefore removing the source of Scourge.
  • Dig Attack: Building stability, frame landing, energy gathering — all require perfectly flattened areas, so...
    • "Scummer" units have a say. They burrow and slowly travel underground leaving upset soil on the surface, at the very least diverting the attention of enemy terraformers to repair the "zero layer." They also can dive under the active barrier and transform into tanks once inside. Few units can attack underground.
    • Let an explosive one-shot bulky-drill-like ultimate unit of Empire faction activate near the base cluster and there's no chance for any structure to be left standing. It becomes invincible, then burrows, then proceeds to leave a moderately long line of erupting mini-volcanoes, dealing both direct and terrain damage.
  • Drill Tank: Subterranean units. They attack by causing distortions in the above terrain, warping building foundations. This is (somehow) done with a laser. They are the only unit able to bypass the Perimeter Shield, by digging underneath it. There are also subterranean missile batteries to defend against them.
    • The Empire has one of these turned Up to Eleven. A Kamikaze version that digs into the ground, and explodes segments of it's body in a line. Used correctly, it's unstoppable.
    • The Extripator is an artillery vehicle that fires drill missiles.
  • Earth That Was: Earth has been abandoned, with humans escaping into the psycosphere lead by Spirits. Very early in the campaign, a faction emerges called Harkback that seeks to return to the Earth.
  • Energy Economy: Even the combat units channel energy before they can make next shot.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Laser weapons are of the "Instant travel, visible beam" type.
  • Gatling Good: See "Arm Cannon"
  • Giant Spider: One of the forms that the Scourge takes. They are the easiest form to deal with, but come in large numbers.
  • Grey and Black Morality: The Exodus and Harkbackhood make up the Grey areas of morality, with the Exodus wanting to reach the end of the chain of worlds and the Harkbackhood wanting to go back to Earth, with both factions doing some rather shady things to each other as the story progresses. The Empire forms the Black area of morality, with wanting to convert everyone into Cyborgs and all.
  • Lost in Translation: A bizzare example. Around 90% of original plot was Dummied Out in English version, including player character identity, Sequel Hook for expansion, and Harkbackhood scourge symbiosis
  • Made of Indestructium/Nigh-Invulnerability: Frames requre a lot to bring down. Nuclear missiles do scratch damage to them. Everything else may as well be spitwads. Frames also have a Healing Factor. However, they degenerate quickly when cut off from their power supply.
  • Mecha-Mooks
  • Nanomachines: Every unit is made up of a swarm of nanomachines, and require a certain ammount of the three basic units-soldiers, officers, and technicians- to form into more powerful units.
  • Nuclear Option: The Empire superweapon is a nuclear missile.
    • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: it's called a "Ballistic Missile Silo", but it's obviously a nuke. It fires a big, fat missile at long range, must be manually targeted, and creates a huge Mushroom Cloud.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: The Frames, for a given value of "ominous" that is...
  • Our Demons Are Different: The Scourge, thought to be manifestations of human evils/ nightmares.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: In this case, a very powerful form of Scourge that can destroy your buildings even if you have Perimeter on. It can also tank entire fleet worth of missile aircraft.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Massive bases can be build in minutes, though all structures are made out of energy.
  • Sand Worm: Scourge Sharks operate this way, jumping in and out of the terrain as if it was water, leading deformaties (that destroy your buildings). During a mission to save inhabitants of Ark-9 a literal worm appears to hinder your attempts.
  • Sequel Hook: First game ends in one. Both Exodus and Harkback achieve their goals, reaching the last world in the chain and returning to the root worlds respectfully. Final cutscene has Exodus frame entering what appears to be a pre-historic Earth. Few seconds later, Harkback frame also appears. A swarm of Scourge then proceed to launch an attack at the Exodus frame and the cutscene ends
  • Science Fantasy: You lead super-advanced, Shapeshifting robotic soldiers fighting demons on alien worlds. Mankind is led by benevolent Physical Gods, and resides in nearly indestructable flying cities. Faster-Than-Light Travel is achieved by sending things through the noosphere.
  • Terraform: Building anything requires bringing the land up or down into a flat plateau. In the sequel, the two remaining factions either desertify or flood their terrain.
    • Gravity Barrier: There's a negative terrain terraforming mode, which allows you to dig trenches that ground units can't cross without getting destroyed.
    • Hostile Terraforming: Out-and-out weaponized. The Exodus' superweapon, the Scum Disruptor, creates a volcano wherever it's targeted, and Scum Splitters create a localized earthquake
  • Threatening Shark: Scourge Sharks, that act more like SandWorms. They are also extremely fast, meaning you are often better raising the Perimeter than hoping that your defenses can fight them back.
  • The Empire: One of the factions. Their goal is to turn everyone into cyborgs and create a new cybernetic empire within the chain of worlds, rather than seek out the end/begin of the chain.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The Scourge manifestations are said to be Psychosphere reaction to human thoughts. Lore ("P-files") claims first experiences with the phenomenon to have been disastrous. The fact that factions have drastic ways of keeping reins on frame residents' would make you think the scourge encounters over the course of the game are worlds' reaction to traces of human thought. The scale is still a threat often.
  • Zerg Rush: Scourge are fond of this. The Harkbackhood's superweapon summons swarms of Scourge to attack enemy positions. Also, considering the AI's fondness for turtling, you'll probably end up doing this too.