Night of the Giant
by Tom Chick
December 15, 2000
We played the Meccs for a while in teams of two. For all the guys at Shoot Club knew, this was
the extent of Giants:
some little blue guys with guns and jet packs setting up their bases
and occasionally making a grab for each other's "Shorties". They're actually called "Smarties",
but no one heard me right when I was explaining the game.
So somewhere along the way, they started calling them "Shorties".
They also referred to them as "the Mars Attacks guys".
"Is this TRIBES?" they asked a couple
"No, this is Giants," I would tell them. Lucky for Trevor they didn't ask why it was
called that, because he wanted to surprise them with Kabuto. They didn't ask why a game about little blue
men carrying bug-eyed big-headed Shorties on their backs was called
Giants. They did, however,
ask about the Sea Reaper on the loading screen.
"Is she in this game?" they asked. There's nothing like nipples visible through thin fabric to pique
There was a fairly common progression for all the
guys at Shoot Club getting used to the Mecc arsenal.
They started out using the Millennium Mortar to indiscriminately
sling rounds at the enemy base.
This was a great way to clear out clusters of turrets without
exposing yourself to return fire.
But then the other team figured out that turrets should be
spread out a l
The next step is realizing that the sniper rifle
is the best weapon for harrying an enemy base and taking out its
defenses. Unlike the smoke trails from the missile weapons
and the colored streaks behind a Millennium Mortar, the sniper rifle
doesn't draw a clear line back to the attacker's position. It also does a lot of damage and holds more
ammo than many of the other
For straight Mecc-a-Mecc sluggery, the Proximity
Missile quickly became a favorite.
It doesn't require a lot of precision, which comes in handy
during the jerky framerates you'll get on slower computers.
"Why is this game so jumpy?" one of the new guys
The Shield Pack was also a favorite. There were several attempts -- some successful
-- to fire up the Shield Pack and make a beeline through enemy turret
fire to grab the other team's Shortie.
And once everyone realized how mines worked, they were also
great favorite, strewn liberally around the map.
Princess Diana would have been mortified.
After a few rounds, Shoot Club was comfortable
with Mecc vs. Mecc games. Then
Trevor quietly set up the four computers for a game with three Meccs
vs. one Kabut
"Okay, now it's three of you guys against
me," Trevor announced, suppressing a giggle, "If I get
your Shortie, I score. I
mean Smartie. If I get your Smartie, I score. It's called a Smartie, not a Shortie." Trevor was the only one who insisted on calling
them Smarties. 'We should
respect the developers' creative vision,' he had said, even though
he keeps accidentally referring to 'Kabuto' as 'Kabuko'. He still thinks Shenmue is called 'Shem-nue'.
"And we're trying to get your Shortie?"
one of the guys asked.
"I don't have a Shortie in this game,"
Trevor said. "All you
have to do is kill me. If
you kill me, you score."
While the game was loading, a process that took
upwards of several minutes for the slower computer, I whispered
to Trevor, "Shouldn't you explain Kabuto's weak spot?
That green codpiece where you have to shoot him?"
"Naw, it'll be more fun this way," Trevor
said. The level loaded and
he ran for the Shortie spawning area.
He gobbled them up and started growing Kabuto towards hi
most powerful form.
"What the hell is that?"
one of the other guys asked when he saw
"That's Trevor," I said, "Try and
shoot him in the crotch".
"Dude, don't tell him that," Trevor said. The cry went out: "shoot Trevor in the
crotch!". And try they
did, but to no avail. Trevor
didn't even bother going for the Mecc team's Shortie.
He was just having fun picking up the other players and eating
them. Every now and then someone would plink Kabuto's
green crotch area with a gun, but then Trevor would just gobble
a few Vimps to heal up.
It was gratifying listening to the other players
shriek and yell while an unstoppable behemoth plucked them up and
noshed on them like popcorn shrimp.
I'm not sure it makes for very compelling gameplay, but Trevor
seemed to enjoy it. Giants is his favorite game of the year.
After a while, it became clear that there was no
practical way to kill Kabuto, much less keep him away from the Mecc
team's Shortie. Eventually the guys playing the Meccs gave
up and wandered over to the TV to play Virtua Tennis.
"Hey, c'mon, where are you guys going?"
Trevor said, "Here, I'll let you take a free shot. I swear. I won't move.
One free shot, over here."
In looking at the readme, I see that the developers
of Giants recommend four Meccs to one Kabuto.
Even then, I can't imagine it would make a difference. Giants is a game without balance. As long as it's cool, who cares if it's fair?
We tried the Sea Reapers later that evening. "Okay, I won't be Kabuko anymore, I swear,"
But we ran into the same problem, which is why
the readme reccomends a two to one ratio of Meccs to Sea Reapers. It was a pretty simple matter for a Sea Reaper
to ride her ski to the rear of a Mecc base, waltz in with a Cloak
spell to snatch the enemy Shortie, and then swim back to her base
with impunity since the Meccs are devoured by Piranha if they get
in the water. Even though Interplay removed their nipples,
the Reapers are still powerful, fast, and versatile.
After Shoot Club was over, I was gathering beer
bottles, Ho Ho wrappers, and errant chips from out of the rug. It was 7am. Trevor was sitting at the Playstation 2 trying to do
a full flip in SSX. He had to be at work in an hour.
"Man, you're really picky," he told me,
plowing Elise into a snowbank, "Giants is the best game to
come out in a long time, at least since F.A.K.K. 2.
And you're all hung up about nitpicky issues.
Giants rocks hard and long and all night."
"Actually, it crashes a lot," I said. Several times a player would get dumped to
the desktop and he'd have to restart the game and rejoin.
"Dude, there's no such thing as bug-free software. Welcome to the real world where the rest of
us live. Don't be so picky."
Trevor skidded into a metal post.
"Well, there's also the balance issue,"
"You know, it's not someone else's responsiblity
to balance the game for you. Quit
trying to play it the way it's not designed to be played. The readme says four Meccs to a Kabuto. If you can't honor that, don't bitch about it." Trevor landed in mid flip and bounced off the
course out into the forest.
"But there's no skirmish AI to put in more
Meccs and I only have four computers."
"It's not their fault you don't have the right
hardware," Trevor said, trying to find his way back to the
track, "You are really picky."
"And then there's the graphics."
"What are you talking about? The graphics in Giants look great." Trevor banged into a rock.
"We had to turn the detail way down to get
a good framerate and it's still not very smooth.
I'm used to how well stuff like Rogue Spear and Unreal Tournament
"Like I said, it's not their fault you don't
have the right hardware," Trevor said.
He did a belly flop onto the track and slid into a pipe.
"Man, the AI in this game isn't very good."
"You know you're supposed to let up on the
buttons before you land?"
"Now you tell me." Trevor crossed the finish line in last place. "SSX is serious ass. I think SSX is short for 'sucks'. Are you done screwing around? Let's get some breakfast. You know that cute
waitress at Denny's? I think her shift started an hour ago."
"Aren't you going to go home to take a shower
before work?" I asked.
haven't been jogging or anything.
It's not like I sweat at Shoot Club.
I bet my breath stinks, though. Can I use your toothbrush?"
"Dude, you are so goddamn picky."