If you’re obsessed with construction equipment and large mechanical things, Giant Machines 2017 probably has something to offer you. Giant Machines 2017 is a game that simulates what it’s like to drive, well, giant machines. These are machines like dump trucks, giant bucket-wheel mining excavators, cranes, and that massive moving platform that hauled the space shuttle to its launch site.
I found the game bizarrely entertaining in short bursts. It’s buggy, not terribly attractive, and frequently requires the player to perform tedious, rather pointless tasks. Giant Machines brings up all kinds of questions about worker safety as well. Does the gigantic excavator really have a 300-foot ladder going straight up, with no safety guards whatsoever? And, if so, who takes that job?
There’s a certain novelty to the game as a whole. Similar to the appeal of movies about sharks in tornadoes, there’s a goofy, yet earnest glee to playing with monster machinery. The 12-year-old in me couldn’t help but get a modicum of guilty pleasure out of plowing through town in a dump truck the size of a house or pushing massive piles of snow for no real reason at all. The game’s snarky narrator is also amusing as he gives you mission goals at the beginning of each level, frequently complaining about the incompetent guy who had the job before you.
Despite the inherent glee of operating massive mechanical contraptions and snarky narrator aside, the game takes itself way too seriously and focuses too much on out-of-place mini-objectives. Anyone who looks at a game like this and thinks, “Hey! That’s a great idea!” is likely doing so because they want to bust things up with giant equipment. There’s some of that, but there’s way too much fixing cables, replacing batteries, and other tedious tasks that just get in the way of controlling the vehicles.
When you finally do get behind the wheel of these mighty machines, the game opts for simulation-level pacing–without really delivering any kind of in-depth simulation. You can control almost every aspect of the various vehicles with a control pad, for instance, but don’t expect a riotous, over-the-top destructive rodeo. Instead, take a deep breath, contemplate life, and think about your day as you literally drive from Point A to Point B at about one or two miles per hour.
The camera has an array of options, which are frequently all bad. Viewing from the operator’s booth in some of the machines barely lets you see what you’re doing, and the third-person viewpoints tend to be even worse. It’s not so noticeable when you’re driving a giant dump truck, but for unusually shaped vehicles (such as the excavator), everything is awkward.
Every vehicle has a radio with several music stations. One sounds like weird ’80s-era action-movie synthpop, while another seems to be Eastern European metal. It was all stuff I’ve certainly never heard before. The tracks aren’t particularly good, but I kind of enjoyed the low-budget equivalent to the standard triple-A soundtrack.
Adding “2017” to the name might suggest this is a modern, up-to-date experience, but the graphics engine looks more like 2006 (or older). The machines–especially from a distance–look decent, but the landscapes are sharp and blocky, and close-up textures and architecture are rather primitive.
Giant Machines 2017 is only vaguely sim-like and suffers from a slew of flaws. Had the game just dove all-in on the idea of creating a destructive playground in which players could just run wild, it might’ve been a lot more appealing. As it is, the game has a distinct novelty value if you like low-budget, weird games.