The Video Game Forklift Museum

✏️ Sam Derboo | 📅 2023-07-09T11:03:00Z | ⏱ 20 minute read


When playing video games, representations of industrial machinery have always held a strange fascination for me. There's something about them that makes the environment feel more real, more grounded. I've been particularly occupied with forklifts. I don't know why. I've never driven one in all my life, and I've only even encountered them in the real world a handful of times. Maybe that's precisely the reason, I dunno.

At any rate, I've been saving screenshots of forklifts whenever I play a game that features them for many years now, and ammassed quite the collection. The goal of this list isn't neccessarily to contain every single forklift ever featured in a video game, but I do want to keep it a work in progress. If you know of any forklifts not featured here, feel free to tell me all about them on Bluesky or Twitter.

But first, a list of games I've already heard about but haven't gotten around to playing for screenshots:

Ossu! Karatebu

  • First release: 1994/08/26
  • Depicted version: Super Famicom
  • Appearance type: Background

Here it is, maybe not the very first forklift in a game ever, but the oldest I could find. A few pixels far in the back of an obscure, Japan-only fighting game for the Super Famicom. It's a start.

Time Crisis

  • First release: 1996/03
  • Depicted version: Arcade
  • Appearance type: Environment

The second example on the list is already the first 3D model, which I'm grateful for - for some reason, 2D sprite forklifts don't have quite the same appeal for me. As an on-rails lightgun shooter from the arcades, Time Crisis is a short game to begin with, but it only takes a few seconds to get to the forklift that serves as the final fighting location of the first area. It's a somewhat unconventional build but looks pretty cool with the terrorists shooting from on top of it.

Shadow Warrior

  • First release: 1997/05/13
  • Depicted version: IBM PC
  • Appearance type: Environment (interactive)

The first forklift model from a PC game is a bit crude, as is the maker label on it. (Yes, that reads Titsubishi. It came from the same juvenile minds that brought you Duke Nukem 3D, after all.) For a Build Engine game, I think it was pretty impressive nonetheless. It's been a while since I played this, but I think those were even interactive in some kind of way? Don't remember if they had switches for something or you could destroy them or what exactly...

Crows: The Battle Action

  • First release: 1997/12/18
  • Depicted version: Saturn
  • Appearance type: Background

Our second 2D forklift is another very obscure one. This is a typical side-scrolling brawler with pretty stiff controls and not much excitement, based on a similarly obscure manga, I believe. It's so boring and repetitive that I didn't even get to meet the forklift enemies and just stole this screen from Hardcore Gaming 101 (they'll understand). There, I'm already breaking my own rule.

Metal Gear Solid: Tactical Espionage Action

  • First release: 1998/09/03
  • Depicted version: PlayStation
  • Appearance type: Environment

Solid Snake happens upon this sturdy forklift before he even enters the terrorist base, and he can hide behind it while waiting for the elevator. It almost looks like some kind of truck or jeep for its all-enclosing chassis, presumably to protect its driver from the Alaskan cold.

Grim Fandango

  • First release: 1998/10/14
  • Depicted version: Windows (Remastered)
  • Appearance type: Driveable

Coming from a team that only made 2D point-and-click adventures before, Grim Fandango paints a fascinating world traveled through via a very awkward 3D interface, which extends to the scene where you actually get to steer this monstrosity of a forklift. Merficully, it's a very short sequence.

Vigilance

  • First release: 1998/10/31
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

Speaking of awkard controls, Vigilante is another poster child for those, with a take on dividing movement and camera controls in a manner that only seems baffling today. But unlike Grim Fandango, no one even knows this game, which makes its decorative forklift a precious find.

Resident Evil 3

  • First release: 1999/09/22
  • Depicted version: PlayStation
  • Appearance type: Environment

To tell you the truth, I've always preferred Resident Evil 3 over its predecessor. It's been critiziced for not pushing the series forward, but Resident Evil 2 felt much more like a clone of the first game to me. Also, Resident Evil 2 has no forklifts at all. What a loser. Resident Evil 3 has only a little one, where you couldn't even sit in, but rather stand behind as you operate it - if it weren't a completely static element of the pre-rendered environment, that is. It's still a lot better than nothing at all. Take that, Resident Evil 2!

Shenmue

  • First release: 1999/12/29
  • Depicted version: Dreamcast
  • Appearance type: Driveable

These days, Shenmue may not be known for much more than its clunky controls, lots of mundanity, and Yu Suzuki's eternal commitment to gross overscoping, but back in the day it was one of the pioneers of "open world" games and also famous for its whole chapter all about forklift driving. Which, like the rest of the game, is very clunky and kinda boring. But I still love it, just like the rest of the game. The Yakuza series doesn't scratch the same itch for me at all.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption

  • First release: 2000/06/07
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

After many adventures in medieval times, only half of Redemption takes place in modern times, but it still manages to squeeze two distinct forklifts in its final levels. This is one of them.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption

  • First release: 2000/06/07
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

And here is the other. I think it's mostly based on the same 3D model, but the camouflage-like texture makes this one look pretty unique regardless.

Tomb Raider Chronicles

  • First release: 2000/11/17
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

Tomb Raider has dabbled with forklifts every once in a while over the years. This first example is from when they were still using the super blocky and quite static original engine, so Lara can't drive this one, but IIRC she can get on top of it and use it as a platform, at least.

007: The World is Not Enough

  • First release: 2000/11/01
  • Depicted version: Nintendo 64
  • Appearance type: Environment

Many consider GoldenEye the best console first-person shooter of the pre-dual analog stick era, but in my book it's not even the best 007 FPS on the N64. The missions just felt a lot more James Bondesy to me, plus it got this beauty in a harbour level where you're chased by a helicopter with a buzzsaw.

Max Payne

  • First release: 2001/07/23
  • Depicted version: Xbox
  • Appearance type: Environment

Mr. Payne's revenge trip takes him through all the seediest parts of fictional New York's seedy underbelly, so no surprise a bunch of derelict warehouses are mandatory stations on his quest. A lot of them are pretty empty aside from scores of crates and packages, but the dogged seeker is rewarded at last with... a fairly standard yellow forklift tucked away in a corner.

Shenmue 2

  • First release: 2001/09/06
  • Depicted version: Xbox
  • Appearance type: Cutscene

In the second part of Ryo Hazuki's grand adventure, the forklifting as a way to earn money is replaced by a variety of smaller jobs and hustles. The machine is teased for a bit in a cutscene, though, before Ryo is lead to his actual task of helping a coworker carry crates around on foot. Shenmue 2 also features several forklifts as capsule toys that can be found all around Hong Kong and Kowloon.

Spider-Man

  • First release: 2002/04/16
  • Depicted version: GameCube
  • Appearance type: Hazard / Environment

This one might look a bit silly with the comically small fork, but it's actually quite dangerous. Spidey first encounters it when hunting for uncle Ben's murderer in some warehouse in this rather loose adaption of the first Raimi Spider-Man movie, specifically when one of the hoodlums suddenly drives it out of a corner to ram the hero for an instant kill. Later you also get to see some just standing around to marvel at.

Syberia

  • First release: 2002/08/09
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Driveable

The best part about the original Syberia are its weird automaton designs. My favorite is of course this anthropomorphized forklift with metal arms sticking out of its front. Since it's a pretty small one, you can't get onto it, but you can steer it around to solve a puzzle.

BloodRayne

  • First release: 2002/10/15
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

As much as I love seeing modern forklifts, the typical build and coloring can get a little repetitive. In comes BloodRayne's WW2 era model, in the ugliest green you can imagine and without a roof, which would probably be a severe safety hazard. Awesome.

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne

  • First release: 2003/10/14
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

Max Payne is back, and he brought more forklifts! This time you can encounter them very early in the game and there's even a little more interactivity involved with them. Max can't drive them, but some of the hoodlums do trying to harm him - at least in the PC version. On consoles, it's still implied that someone drove the forklift to topple of a warehouse shelf on top of Max Payne, but you don't actually see the vehicle moving here.

Max Payne

  • First release: 2003/12/16
  • Depicted version: Game Boy Advance
  • Appearance type: Environment

The handheld version of the original Max Payne may follow the exact same plot along mostly the same locations, but the shift in perspective is enough to turn it into a very different (and terrible) game. Only the platforming-focused nightmare sequences are gone from this port, so the industrial warehouse area including the forklifts remains in a faithful downsized variant.

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

  • First release: 2004/03/09
  • Depicted version: GameCube
  • Appearance type: Environment

If you were looking forward to a reunion with the great forklift from the original Metal Gear Solid with a higher polygon count in Silicon Knights's remake, you're in for a minor disappointment. Compared to the original, it looks a bit wimpy. It's also parked closer to the wall now, which means that you can't get around it to avoid the guards.

BloodRayne 2

  • First release: 2004/10/12
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

After mostly fighting WW2-era nazis in the original, BloodRayne 2 jumps ahead into present times. (Or the future?) Forklift's still the awesome ugly green, though.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

  • First release: 2004/10/26
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Driveable

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas introduced a lot more life simulation-ish elements to the series, and thus marks only the second example after Shenmue where you can actually use it to work its intended purpose of stacking crates

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines

  • First release: 2004/11/16
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

The second Vampire: The Masquerade licensed game is a step up from Redemption in most aspects, but the number of forklift types is unfortunately down to one. It is prettier than its predecessors, though.

Miami Vice

  • First release: 2004/12/03
  • Depicted version: PlayStation 2
  • Appearance type: Environment

I have to admit: I only played this for like five minutes cause it's bad and you can get a look at the forklift right in the first level. It's pretty bulky but gets the distinction of being the first on this list to sport some branding, for "J&S Shipping Services".

Tomb Raider: Legend

  • First release: 2006/04/07
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Driveable

With the start of the first reboot series, forklifts return to Tomb Raider once more, this time you can drive it around a bit to solve puzzles and clear the way for Lara. It also has this little rotating construction light at the front.

Grand Theft Auto IV

  • First release: 2008/04/29
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Driveable

Just like his Grand Theft Auto protagonist predecessor, Nico Bellic doesn't solely rely on crime to make cash. Alongside a dozen other odd jobs that can be taken on for his various criminal friends, but working the forklift is NOT one of them. The fork isn't even operable this time. However, Niko can still get money for stealing and delivering them to one of his cronies.

Alone in the Dark

  • First release: 2008/06/20
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Driveable

The gritty (well, grittier) Alone in the Dark reboot also lets you stack and unstack some crates for a bit of puzzle solving. Driving physics in this game aren't great overall, but I'll take it.

Mirror's Edge

  • First release: 2008/11/11
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

The Mirror's Edge forklift design would be unremarkable in any other game, but here it sticks out cause I'm pretty sure it's the only object in the game with that specific tone of yellow.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

  • First release: 2009/02/10
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

I played the F.E.A.R. series before actively starting to collect forklifts, so this screenshot is a bit far away. I like the color scheme though, might revisit.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction

  • First release: 2010/04/13
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

It took the Splinter Cell series long enough to get into forklifts, considering it's already been taking the Tom Clancy brand of military realism into a variety of civilian settings early on. Conviction makes up for it by sprinkling a lot of them around the various levels, even if its only one identical make.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

  • First release: 2011/08/23
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

Deus Ex: Human Revolution features not the big sit-in ones, but shorter models. I guess they're supposed to be remote controlled or self-driving rather than sit in? Couldn't tell, cause they're not moving in this game.

Mass Effect 3

  • First release: 2012/03/05
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

Considering how much technologically advanced a society Mass Effect depicts, its forklift are surprisingly familiar, aside from a bit slicker sci-fi aesthetics. You get to see them quite a bit, too, and in one cutscene an NPC is even seen driving one.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

  • First release: 2012/06/04
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

There's a forklift in your XCOM operations base that you can marvel at at any time during your campaign, but also some that give you cover in your skirmishes against the alien invaders.

Dead or Alive 5

  • First release: 2012/09/25
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

It is unfortunately not the star of one of Dead or Alive's famous stage interactions, but you can fight in front of this bulky forklift, at least.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist

  • First release: 2012/10/08
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

Once you go forklift, you never go back, is what the Splinter Cell team surely decided. This model is much slicker and modern-looking than the Conviction one.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

  • First release: 2013/02/19
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

Sadly, for the life of me I can't remember if you can slice this one into pieces like so many other things in Revengeance.

Kentucky Route Zero

  • First release: 2013/02/22
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

Wasn't expecting to see this in a derelict construction site in Kentucky Route Zero, but then again the game is full of things you don't expect in any game.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

  • First release: 2013/08/20
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

This spin-off prequel to the XCOM series is set to an alien invasion in the 1960s, but did people use such weird forklifts back then? This model seems really oddly proportioned and not really suitable for someone to sit on there and handle the controls well. It's neat to look at, though, and the military base the game starts in is full of them.

Shadow Warrior

  • First release: 2013/09/26
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

The Shadow Warrior reboot stays true to its roots - well, at the very least in the forklift department. Instead of another immature joke company name, it just got an ominous logo on its side this time.

Yakuza 0

  • First release: 2015/03/12
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

While the zombie apocalypse spin-off Yakuza: Dead Souls features a drivable forklift, the prequel to the original series only has a few stationary examples at a pier location away from the usual urban locations, where Kiryu can occasionally visit for fishing and training and, well, looking at the forklifts.

Fallout 4

  • First release: 2015/11/09
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

Fallout 4 certainly got one of the most enormous and imposing forklifts in a game ever. I've been told there are more ordinary ones to be found as well, but I never got that far because my save file was corrupted with eternal slowdown.

Punch Club

  • First release: 2016/01/08
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Background

It's been a while since we had a 2D forklift. This one's hidden away in one of the many places you can get into fights in this game.

Doom

  • First release: 2016/05/12
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

I really like all the futuristic yet old, grimy, and dirty looking machinery design in 2016's Doom, and the UAC forklift is a true beauty as well.

Tom Clancy's The Division

  • First release: 2016/07/13
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

I downloaded The Division on its free weekend on Steam, just to go and find its forklifts as soon as possible. Especially the cockpit is pretty well modeled in this one, and I like the "Bleecker & Duane" branding. This game also has those non-motorized devices you'd drag around on a handle, but I'm not sure whether those count as forklifts.

Mafia III

  • First release: 2016/10/06
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

Another one that's found quite early in the game. I was actually planning on playing more of Mafia III, but after seeing this, I was pretty much satisfied. I mean, just look at those front lights! It's magnificent.

Watch Dogs 2

  • First release: 2016/11/15
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Driveable

Dunno if the first game has them as well, but the Watch Dogs sequel got not one but two fully functional forklifts you can comandeer and lift stuff with. The first one is a remote controlled drone, so it's design won't win any awards but it's cool and unique.

Watch Dogs 2

  • First release: 2016/11/15
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Driveable

Now this is the real deal: an enormous industial monstrosity you can drive around the city and lift entire cars with! A forklift lover's dream come true.

Tower 57

  • First release: 2017/11/16
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

Another 2D background example that's easy to just walk past, but it's got some pretty neat details if you spend some time to look at it.

Resident Evil 2

  • First release: 2019/01/25
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

After the original Resident Evil 2 was thoroughly trounced by its successor for not having a forklift, for the remake Capcom sought to rectify this and steal Resident Evil 3's thunder.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

  • First release: 2018/09/14
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

The Tomb Raider franchise doesn't do forklifts with every installment, but at least once for every major series incarnation. The one in Shadow of the Tomb Raider is just environmental again, but it's nicely detailed and involved in a little environmental storytelling.

The Outer Worlds

  • First release: 2019/10/25
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

These self-driving, talking pedants are everywhere in The Outer Worlds and even good for some comedic moments, like in the screenshot above where it's impotently threatening a dead lizard with corporate repercussions for obstructing its path.

Need for Speed Heat

  • First release: 2019/11/07
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

Another game I just tried on a free weekend, but I wasn't even looking for this forklift - you could say it found me. Hard to get a good look at them because you never get out of the car in this game and to be honest they don't seem all that spectacular anyway.

Resident Evil 3

  • First release: 2020/04/03
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

Now this is a shame. Since the Resident Evil 2 remake already implemented many of the features that were new to the original Resident Evil 3, now this version really feels kind of redundant. The forklift is also just the exact same model than in the Resident Evil 2 remake.

Arcade Paradise

  • First release: 2022/08/11
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Background

Arcade Paradise is a work simulator where you're taking over your entrepeneur father's laundry business and slowly turning it into a game arcade instead. Forklifts don't figure into that endeavor, but one of the many arcade games inside of the game takes place in a warehouse where you sort crates - with a UFO catcher style crane, but forklifts occasionally drive by the warehouse floor.

Beyond Sunset

  • First release: 2023/11/09
  • Depicted version: Windows
  • Appearance type: Environment

The boomer shooter trend of the late 2010s and early 2020s brought some opportunities for some new nice low polygon models, so we got this little beauty for the collection. The place where it appears isn't lit so well, but at least it can be found easily sitting right in the starting area.

Unnamed DC Superheroes game

  • First release: Never
  • Announced for: Nintendo DS
  • Appearance type: Background art

So this game never actually got made, but legendary pixel artist Henk Nieborg (guy's been around since the Amiga days!) shared some of his work for it on Twitter many years later. And boy, what did we miss with this game. TWO completely different forklifts from different angles in just one picture. Incredible!

Switch

  • First release: Never
  • Announced for: PSP
  • Appearance type: Concept art

Dunno much about this game, I guess it was supposed to be a FPS for the PSP. Seems there's only concept art existing of the game, but I would have loved to see this fantastic sci-fi forklift modeled out and in action. Like, the forks tilt up to make the vehicle more maneuverable?

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