Digger Simulator 2009 (PC)

Acegamez made me use a Bagger 288.

Sadly they also made me use a forklift truck and play this simulator longer than anyon should have to do.

 

Read the full text of my review under the cut:

Digger Simulator 2009

Excalibur

As any male child of the late 20th century can tell you; no greater joy in all of the world could be found than the pleasure a small boy could get playing in the dirt of his back garden with his Tonka Toys.  The yellow humble digger, tractor, elbow-crane and truck were the staple entertainment of an entire generation of kids living in a time where most of television was a dreary four-channel elocution lesson given by men with bad sideburns and school-marmish women, and computers were dry whirring calculators.  To such a child the idea of getting behind the controls of one of these towering prestigious yellow beasts was the epitome of all things wonderful.  To dredge dirt, move it around and dump it while digging holes in the world was a dream come true.  I was such a child.

It was then with some measured trepidation and angst that I approached Digger Simulator 2009.  The cover of the game is emblazoned with small boxy machines in various states of activity and in one corner the giant circular wheel of one particular titanic piece of equipment shone out at me, beckoning me gently into the packaging and warming my enthusiasm for the experience about to come.  Digger Sim 2009 doesn’t just give the player a complete selection of construction vehicles to control and use, there’s also the Bagger 288.

Now to get a handle on the Bagger 288 is a little difficult if you’ve never seen it.  It’s the worlds largest earth-moving device, a giant array of conveyors and structures built together like something out of the Thunderbirds. The business end of the Bagger is topped with a giant wheel of buckets, each the size of  a bus, making it look like an epic circular saw designed to be wielded by an angry God.  Yes this 13,500 tonne beast is ready for you to control.  Throwing you into the hot seat as never before.

So far, so good.  I installed the software and headed into the sim.  This is where things became slightly concerning, as the menu system, in the grand tradition of Astragon simulators, is basic in the extreme; a few simple graphic and control options greet you plainly in a few static menus that look like placeholder graphics on a tax return website.  The game luckily does cater to the needs of almost any screen resolution and is fully scalable down to older systems.  Similarly you can go for high quality sound effects despite their being little in the way of sound other than a few samples of engines grinding and the crashing of dirt on dirt.

The simulation offers up a variety of differing playing modes. Open Pit Mining is the starting point, which lo and behold, gives you the keys to the infamous Bagger.  Much like its most famous photograph, (check the Wikipedia page) the Bagger, or ‘Excavator’ as it’s known in the game is situated out on a desert flatland with a large hill beside it just waiting to be torn into rubble.  From here it’s a simple case of directing the bucket-wheel at the dirt and churning it away.  The giant wheel cutting swathes out of the hill is quite impressive to see, as it’s nicely modelled and the earth seems to melt away in a pleasantly possible fashion as you grind through it.  The same cannot be said for the oddly cell-shaded discs that it changes into once inside the buckets.  Although it does allow the animations to flow as it pours onto the conveyors, it’s distracting and a little silly looking, almost as if mario left a treasure trove of coins hidden in the mountainside.

There isn’t much in the way of adversity or difficulty in the game, so long as you don’t let the wheel connect with the ground or try to pull the entire crane apart by failing to move a segment correctly. Even so, all this will do is accrue you a point of error, out of an allowable 100 per attempt.  You’d have to try fairly definitely to manage that as it’s hard to do by accident.

The problem, with the Open Mining part of the simulator is that it is so laboriously long-winded that it would take a seriously obsessive individual to sit and dig through the allotted 25,000 cubic metres of rubble that is required to complete the day’s digging.  Thankfully in contrast to Crane Simulator 2009, there is a save function in Digger.  Meaning that you don’t need to try to dig out half  a mountain in a single sitting.  It also means you can move onto other tasks without losing your progress.

The other part of the game is the Gravel Pit; a far more open ended simulation where you are given a smattering of vehicles and a simple task.  Shovel the dirt away.  The player is pretty much spoiled for choice with the options available as there is a dumper truck, an elbow crane, a bulldozer and a few other large yellow vehicles all for your entertainment. From here it’s simply a case of deciding how you want to go about it, as you can use the ‘dozer to push the rubble in place, the crane to load up the dumper or simply pick it up and drop it with the scoop.  It’s certainly different, as you can fully control these vehicles and manipulate their tools and extremities in a variety of ways, as well as driving them around the area.  However it gets dull fast and as far as a simulation goes, a nice rendered, or even static, cockpit view in ANY of the vehicles might have helped with immersion slightly.  As it stand you can’t help feeling a little cheated out of the sim aspect of what essentially feels like Bob The Builder’s sandpit.

There are also a handful of missions rounding out the package but these really just equate to a few timed challenges on the two main game modes. As such they add little more than minutes onto the experiences as the instructions are vague in the extreme and it’s quite easy to fail the challenge simply due to not understanding the awkwardly translated single sentence instruction.

On the whole there is probably an audience for Digger Simulator 2009 and they’ll likely enjoy the opportunity to toy with these machines, however it’s a very limited appeal and even the most ardent enthusiast will baulk at the repetitive nature and lack of real options present here.

 

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