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Crane Simulator 2009 Review

I have reviewed a few simulator games before and have been struck by their themes and I have been handed a few more and I don’t think you could make them up. So here we are with Crane Simulator 2009…no, seriously.

I’m not here to question the games existence (unless it’s really bad) only to review them on their merits but for the life of me I cannot work out who plays these games. I’m guessing those who have had a childhood dream of using a crane or those who are maybe training to use one or maybe those who just fancy it. For all I know, there maybe a huge following of crane-game addicts out there. But I doubt it.

Install was swift from CD-ROM and start up was a breeze. With any game I get I always pour over the manual first and I normally don’t talk about it unless it’s outstanding and something has to be said. In this case the manual for Crane Simulator 2009 is standard but, by the gaming gods, the font size is terrible! It’s at type size 6 or something because I found it a strain to read. Schoolboy error. But I digress; it would only be truly bad if the font was this small in game….oh, dear.

The menus are stylish but yep, the font is tiny. I adjusted the graphics and monitor resolution but no help. In the game it’s a little better but still crowded. But as my girlfriend pointed out, you have to have good eye sight to be a crane operator but that’s not an excuse. The menu and the game itself are both without music which with any simulator game is near essential. Even a monotone melody is an improvement on nothing. Even the menu lacks clicking or confirmation noises and for a few minutes I thought my sound was broken.

The game starts you out on a building site and you have to construct yourself a pre-fabricated house. You get brief tutorial pop-ups but they are a bit too brief and had one pop-up interrupt another and I had to find out what it said by reading the controls from the manual. No biggy, but annoying. So, its page up and down to move the hoist (think it’s called a hoist) arrow keys up and down to move the jig (that the cranes “neck”) and arrow keys left and right to move the crane left and right. You have to lift pre-fab walls from a truck and lower them in to position on the layout on the foundation. The physics engine that guides all movement is effective and solid and I never had an issue with it.

You get pop-ups that tell you when you’re close to the load to attach it to the hoist and when to release it when you manoeuvre it into position. The Z and C keys swing the load left and right and drove me to the brink of insanity getting the load in the correct position. The game is quite forgiving about when you drop the load but it’s got to be facing the correct direction and still close. The game assures me on Hard Mode that the guiding feature is removed for extra frustration.

Ok, with graphics you’re not expecting much. Landscapes are minimal and slightly bland but that’s real life simulation for you. You’re not going to getting rolling HD landscapes because obviously, the crane is the star of the show and it’s rendered well. The cranes themselves are renditions of real cranes and if there are such people as crane enthusiasts, their gonna love it. The game has several camera views which is nice but you will mostly use the top-down view and rarely any other (not that there is much too look at)

I confess I was bored after about half an hour and struggled through the last parts of the game. I but a few hours into and I can say that you do derive a small sense of satisfaction from completing the levels and finishing your build or having a fully loaded (unloaded) ship.

There are 3 levels in the game with 3 different cranes to use. Firstly the building site with the pre-fab home, the dock yard which isn’t too bad (level comes with a layer guide for stacking the correct containers) and the inner city construction. There’s not much to be done and each level will take an hour or two. There is a scoring system in a vain attempt to keep you coming back to the game but no online scoreboards to show your high score off.

It’s all toys for big boys and I can imagine my father in-law loving this kind of game and it’s certainly up to the spec of his 2001 Toshiba laptop. His generation played with Dinky metal toys of earth movers and cranes and getting to simulate play with these is usually a fulfilment of a dream. Unfortunately with my generation we won’t be fulfilled until the zombie apocalypse finally breaks out and hand-held magnetic rail cannons are invented. We are harder to please.

OK, so a crane simulation game was never going to be at the top of many gamer’s lists but it’s not broken and it’s not bug ridden. It’s solidly put to together but that’s not enough to save it from itself. With all simulation games it’s all about audience and the niche market, different strokes for different folks. For that, its not getting a terrible score but it won’t get a high one either. Reviewed on the PC. “Right…right…right….OH, OK SWING LEFT THAT’S TOTALLY WHAT I WANTED YOU TO DO! ARGH”

39/100

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Crane Simulator 2009 Review, 9.6 out of 10 based on 5 ratings
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