Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Giant Machines 2017 (PC)

Giant Machines 2017 title screen
Developer:Code Horizon|Release Date:2016|Systems:PC

This week on Super Adventures I'm playing Giant Machines 2017! At least I hope that there's something in it I can play and it's not just a virtual museum dedicated to really big trucks. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it just wouldn't give me anything to write about (because I'd turn it off after two minutes).

Whatever it is, it seems to be the very first title by Polish developer Code Horizon, who are apparently better known for making Gold Rush: The Game (the first realistic gold-mining simulator, according to their website).

The game(?) was a Christmas present from a friend, and by that I mean he bought a mystery bundle and gave the contents away to anyone who wanted them. Sadly no one wanted Giant Machines, but I've adopted it and given it a home in my Steam library where I hope it'll be comfortable. Neglected, but comfortable.

Giant Machines 2017 loading screen
Nice loading screen, really helps to illustrate how giant these machines are going to be. Plus I like the way the hook on the crane icon sways back and forth to show that it's still loading and hasn't crashed yet. But hang on, it says GM16 on the side of the truck, not GM17. Did they forget for a moment that you're supposed to put the next year on your title instead of the current year?

Once the options screen loaded I decided to push my luck (and my ancient PC) by putting all the video settings to maximum. Then I went to remap the keys as well and saw this:

Giant Machines 2017 controls options screen
The game(?) ain't messing around. Plus there's a separate set of keys for every bloody vehicle! If I tried changing them all I'd be here all night and I don't think I could stand listening to this short menu music loop that long.

I mean I don't hate the music, it reminds me of Bad Rats and I liked Bad Rats' soundtrack (maybe the developers bought their tunes from the same site... or got them free from the same site), it's just that they didn't make it loop seamlessly and it's driving me mad.

It supports a controller as well by the way, if you find it a bit off-putting when something expects you to use a fifth of the keys on your 104 key keyboard.


Alright, it's started me off in a storeroom somewhere in Wyoming. All I know about Wyoming is that one of the Wacky Races episodes takes place there, but I know what I'm meant to be doing here at least because I got a radio message from a bloke with an actual voice actor! My ultimate goal is to extract silicon so that we can finish working on a Space Shuttle, because the person who used to do it got fired (along with everyone else who worked here it seems), but first I need to get over to that tiny tow truck over there and start it up. Because if I don't, no one else will.

I'm walking around in first person, but my dude doesn't exactly glide around when he moves. Also when I look down I can't see either my shadow or my shoes. I mean the shoes I'm wearing; I can see those shoes under the table just fine (and the bonus boots over there by the lockers). I can see some mysterious bottles of mystery liquids as well, plus a bit of scruffy cardboard, but it's not letting me pick anything up.

Seems that I'm getting 90 FPS with the graphics maxed out on my humble rig, so I'm going to cap that before going any further. I'm going to have to restart the game anyway because it locked up when I alt-tabbed out to write my notes. So I guess I'll be getting some paper out to write on... how quaint.

I have successfully walked over to the tow truck! Not the biggest machine I've ever seen but I suppose if you start at the top then you've got nowhere higher to go. Getting the thing moving was a little trickier, but the game thoughtfully provided an on-screen list of controls, including the ignition and the handbrake. I couldn't get the radio working though.

Oh hang on, I've managed to get it stuck on the dubstep station now. I feel like if I keep fighting it I'm only going to end up with something worse so I'm going to declare victory and switch my full attention to driving 357 meters in a straight line to reach that new marker. There's no buttons for gears, but the tow truck really picked up speed once I finally took the handbrake off. I can go like 22 mph in this thing flat out!

Okay my next job is to go over there and pick up the broken hydraulic hoses marked by the handy marker, so I'll go do that. After I turn the engine off that is.

Incidentally I can push the tow truck around myself by walking into it, which is... nice. Sometimes you just want to push a car around with your bare invisible hands like it's nothing and a lot of games don't have that feature.

The hoses are useless in their current condition, so I was told to put them on the nearby table and patch them up. Now I get to play the repair minigame, which involves me holding down 'E' and waiting for the bar to fill up while being serenaded by the sound of hammering and wrenching. Don't worry, I'm sure the giant machines will turn up soon.

Okay, the hose is fixed, and now I have to attach wires to an actuator 100 meters away. Well the game said 'wires' but I'm fairly sure it means these hoses. Alright handy HUD marker, tell me where the hose goes.

Bloody hell... okay, that's a fairly giant machine. I figured I'd be driving the things, not climbing them; it's not Shadow of the Giant Machines. Man, how the hell am I supposed to get all the way up there? I can't even find a way to get up onto the lower deck! Do I have to climb the massive (and reasonably detailed) tank tracks?

Oh, there's some stairs around the other side I can use to get onto the deck. Then I'll need to find my way around to the right ladder.

I made it up to the top of the bucket-wheel excavator! Eventually!

There's nothing up here but a nice view of the level and some railings, but they're pretty good railings I reckon. They're very curvy and they've got a decent number of polygons. This probably wasn't the prettiest video game to come out near the end of 2016 and it's not exactly being elevated by stylish art direction, but the graphics are decent enough for a low budget title I reckon.

I suppose I should go start the electromechanical converter then... 97 metres below.

Just out of curiosity I decided to see if I could jump off the top and it turns out that I can! I was less curious about what would happen when I landed though so I grabbed hold of the railing and continued my descent the slow way.

I do know that the screen goes red for a bit if I fall too far, I found that out without even trying, but whether it can go red enough to kill the dude I don't know. It can be a fun surprise for when I do something really stupid.

Man it feels like I've just activated the excavator's missiles with the way these cylinders are raising out of their hatches. I'm getting really good at going to where the marker is and holding down the E key though.

When it was done the bloke on the radio called me up to tell me that my next job is to turn on two cooling fans, so I'll be pressing the E button at least a couple more times before it'll finally let me drive this thing.

Well there's one of the fans, but it's over there on the other side of the railing and it won't let me jump over. Seems like the real puzzle in this game is finding my way around the maze of railings and stairs. At least until I unlock a grappling hook or a double jump power up. I know it's not likely, but neither's someone making a game where you have to run around flicking switches on a giant excavator so let me have my dreams.

By the way, the floor is all metal on this thing, so right now it sounds like my dude is stepping from the top of one barrel to another any time I walk anywhere. He moves a bit like that as well.

Alright, I'm finally in the excavator's cabin and hey it's that table again, with the same boots and mystery bottles. It's even got an identical scrap of cardboard on it. Most importantly this driver's cabin has another radio so I can put the dubstep station back on. Or not... because the button's not doing anything.

Oh I see, now it's only changing stations when it's turned off. Well if that's the only bug I find in the game I can live with that. It's been pretty solid otherwise, aside from locking up when I tabbed out earlier. All the buttons I needed to get the thing moving worked just fine, and it turns out that controlling a bucket-wheel excavator is actually a lot like driving a car, except much much slower.

It barely moves even after I take the handbrake off. Yes my 100 meter tall bucket-wheel excavator has a handbrake. It's a very sensible thing to have on any land vehicle, even one that can almost reach speeds up to 2 mph (but not quite). Man it's going to take me longer to drive 100 metres than it took me to climb it and it won't even be close.

Yep, took me about two and a half minutes to get there in the end, just holding W and waiting. Though there was a bit of turning at the end, and I'm really thankful for this third person view as I doubt I would've been able to line the vehicle up with the target box without it. If I'd missed it would've taken a another minute to reverse before I could take a second pass!

It took a second or so to register that the excavator was in fact in the target zone and then told me that I'd finished the level! I guess using the mining equipment for mining happens on a later level.


Man, the handbrake gets me every time. Still, it's better to forget all the time in this than to get into the habit of always hitting the handbrake key and screw myself up in the first racing game I play afterwards.

I'm still at the White Thunder Silicon Mine, but now I'm driving a truck. My new mission is to get over to the excavator without pushing the hydraulic pressure levels too high and having to reset the fuses, whatever that means. I'm just going to drive it normally and deal with any catastrophes when they occur.

You can't see it right now, because I'm actually pretty high up in this comically oversized dump truck, but there's a motorbike down there I'd rather be driving and the game won't let me ride it. But that's okay, because now I get to see what a comically oversized dump truck can do to a tiny little bike with its massive massive tires.

Oh, turns out it can do nothing. I've got the pedal floored here, but the bike isn't just indestructible, it simply cannot be moved. You'd think driving epic vehicles would lead to epic destruction if I made the slightest lapse of concentration, but nope the world is entirely static. The potential for mayhem is pretty much zero. Alright, time to go on the long drive to where I left my bucket-wheel excavator parked then.

Thankfully despite this thing being the size of a fairly large house it drives just like a normal truck and moves at a good speed (40 mph!) so getting over to the excavator wasn't an ordeal. It just took a while, especially as I kept driving into immovable objects I couldn't see along the side of the road until I switched back to an exterior camera. Seems that third person camera view is what you want in this game. Especially when you're supposed to be backing up into a specific position with only a tiny useless mirror as a guide.

"Achievement Unlocked: Just Stop"? Is the game trying to give me a hint?

But I can't stop yet, because I'm about to start digging for real! I need to get back into the operator cabin of the excavator and start the engine again. This shouldn't take so long this time as I think I remember the way.

Oh, so the 'operator cabin' is different to the 'driver's cabin'. Well now I know. I'm actually supposed to be in that room 100 metres away. Always 100 meters.

Hey there's my dump truck down there on the bottom right of the screen, parked under the conveyor belt, waiting for its silicon. Won't be long now, I just have to figure out how to get up there onto the excavator's arm and walk across to the end.

Here I am in the operator's cabin at last and guess what, I found another pair of boots there waiting for me. Game's got some interesting environmental storytelling going on here, with some fascinating clues about what happened to all the other workers to leave this place a ghost mine. Or maybe the designers just liked reusing their props. No table or cardboard to go with them this time though, just a radio.

Okay what I had to do here was press X to turn the engine on, hit R to get the bucket-wheel moving, and now I'm steering the crane with WASD to dig away at this wall of rock. There's a long list of buttons to press but controlling the vehicles has been pretty simple so far.

It took me a little bit to figure out what I was supposed to do with the thing, but it seems I have to sweep the digging wheel horizontally across the rock until it won't go any further, the move it down a little and sweep it back the other way. So it's a bit like systematically scanning planets in Mass Effect 2, except slower and more tedious. Also an alarm keeps going off for some reason, which kind of made me jump first time it happened.

Oops I broke it.

Well now I know that the alarm means that I'm doing a wrong thing and it's wrecking my excavator. I'll be sure to pull the arm back and dig at another part of the wall next time it happens. At least I achieved something.

The game put me back to the last checkpoint, and I was surprised to find that I still had 500t of silicon mined so I've lost next to no progress. I still need to get it up to 1000t though before I can head back and hit that switch next to the driver's cabin.

That's a cool view, looking out from the cabin at the end of the arm. This isn't the most exciting or challenging of video games, but sometimes it's worth putting on just so I can look back and think 'man this is a giant machine I'm on'. That tiny dump truck down there is as big as a house, and I need to get back over to it so I can hit the switch to load it up with 275 tons of silicon.

I've reached the (unmarked) switch and now I have to hold E for a while. It's okay, I've been trained for this.

I like how all the bits of silicon bounce into the back of the truck, and I'm sure I'm going to enjoy how they all bounce right back out again later due to my crappy driving. Maybe I'll get an achievement for that as well, just before it reloads the last checkpoint when I still had ore.

Okay it seems reluctant to let me jump onto the conveyor belt and slide down into the back of the truck, so I'll have to go around the long way. But I'll be holding the sprint key the whole way. Even down the stairs, because I'm a renegade who doesn't have time for things like 'common sense'.

Well I ran down the stairs too fast and he died. Or 'she' I suppose; the game never mentions your gender. You're just you I suppose. It doesn't even give you a name, you're just "the employee". I guess they can get away with calling you that when you're the one employee they have.

Hang on, that's only dumb way to die 1 of 6? Well that's intriguing. I wonder what else around here is deadly. I can't seem to kill my dude with the giant machines themselves, as I have to turn the engine off before it'll let me out.

Nothing's fallen out of the truck so far, miraculously, though the drive back is just as interesting as it was coming the other way. Wait, Thunderlizard at the Art War? Are they trying to get me to swerve off the road with these song titles? It doesn't exactly feature the tracklist of a GTA game, but that's fine as I can apparently just make my own radio station from mp3s. I'm not going to bother though, as it's easier to just have a separate music player going... or better yet, podcasts.

Seems like that pressure thing they warned me about earlier wasn't actually an issue as I haven't had to get out and reset a fuse once so far. But I'm not liking that 'FUEL' gauge, that's not something I typically want to ever worry about in a game. It's like a 'food' or 'water' meter, except for cars.

The digital counter on the side of the truck that tells me how many tons I have is cool though, that can stay.

Well that worked out better than I expected. I backed up to the container, pressed the button, and the silicon came tumbling out exactly where it was supposed to go. That's level 2 complete! We'll get this Space Shuttle launched in no time.


They called level 3 "There Must Be Order"? That's a bit ominous. Man I hope this Space Shuttle we're launching isn't carrying a surveillance satellite for a fascist regime or something. Though it would explain why we're trying to launch a spaceship that was retired back in 2011 in our timeline.

Right now though the only things that need to be in order are these containers full of silicon I'm stacking. Badly. Turns out that attaching a hook to a container is a pain in the ass with no depth perception, no matter what camera angle I'm using.

It wants me to stack four of them, but carrying one of them over and getting it in the right place was enough work for me, so I think I'll... just stop.


I have to admit, I've never operated a haul truck or a bucket-wheel excavator, giant or otherwise, so I've got no idea whatsoever how well Giant Machines 2017 simulates the experience of running a whole mine all on your own. Something tells me it hasn't been used in any training courses, but on the scale of verisimilitude it seems closer to farming simulator Stardew Valley than to plumbing simulator Super Mario Bros. The models seem pretty accurate at least.

I have played a few video games though and I can tell you that this does a poor job of resembling one. To be fair it functioned just fine for me for the most part, with only the radio giving me any trouble; it feels cheap but it doesn't feel shoddy. And you can even unlock a time attack mode if you finish it all! But it's more about the experience of climbing around and driving very slowly in massive industrial machines than it is about doing anything entertaining with them. You don't get to play around with ridiculously huge vehicles, you go where it tells you to and you hold the button down until the job's done, sometimes for minutes at a time. Plus it's kind of depressing driving all the machines by yourself in various abandoned sites across the world, with boots and bits of cardboard left by former employees being the only sign that anyone else has ever worked there.

If you just want something to occupy your eyes while you listen to a podcast though it can do that, as there's no story to follow and nothing to really distract you from the folks talking in your ears. It's also fairly considerate of its players, with its level select screen that lets you replay completed stages, and its frequent checkpoints. It even comes with model viewer, so you can spin the camera around the vehicles without the hassle of loading a level first.

As a simulator it focuses on banality over complexity and realism, as a game it's a joke, but it does have giant machines in it and it did come out around 2017 (give or take a few months), so for better or worse it's exactly what it claims to be.

Thanks for reading my words! Check back next week for another game. Or have a guess what the game is now and then check back next week to see if you're right!

Either way you should leave me a comment, because comments are good and bring us all joy.


  1. All I know about Wyoming is that the Decepticons had a base there -- in a coal mine -- in the Marvel Transformers comics.

    I don't have anything else to say about this game, sorry, but I do know the next one is Populous.

    1. That would've been a twist that would've kept me playing, if the giant machines turned out to be Transformers. Maybe I should play a few more levels just to make sure.

      Also yeah the next game is Populous, you nailed it.

  2. I spent far too much time playing Populous on the Master System -- a surprisingly good port -- in my youth, so I'd know those icons anywhere.

  3. I think that to better avoid feeling this website is like work, you shouldn't make plans about when to write and when not to write. Just go by instinct!

    Also, a suggestion: if you ever feel like it, perhaps one day you might review the Judge Dredd videogame that Midway was working on - it's only three short levels so you could actually review it from beginning to end. If you get in the mood.

    1. That's a sensible idea, but I've learned that my brain doesn't always cooperate with sensible ideas. I can start things any time I feel like it, that's easy, but finishing things is a lot tougher and I find that making plans and deadlines really helps with that part.

      Judge Dredd is a good suggestion too. I avoided playing it in the past because it was never finished, but I'm not as bothered about that these days as I used to be.


Semi-Random Game Box