Review by Inadvertant
Small World Big Ideas
Minecraft has been on the PC for sometime now, and millions of gamers have been experiencing the simple joys of turning blocks into other blocks to place blocks and build large block structures. The game has a simple premise indeed, you generate a random world with a variety of different environments (referred to as biomes) and you roam the landscape using your blocky hand to pickup different blocks from the ground or trees to build tools, shelter, workbenches and soon amazing structures. You are limited only by your imagination and resources you can gather in this world. Finally Xbox 360 owners now have access to the same, although slightly smaller, experience. This review will cover what makes Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition different and then go over the following categories, giving each one a rating on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is the worst it could be and 10 is the best it could be; Gameplay, Controls, Graphics, Sound, Replayability and Play Time.
The gameplay to Minecraft is simple, both on PC and on the Xbox 360 port. With the recent release of the second major patch on the Xbox 360 version of the game, console gamers now have access to the infamous Adventure Update. This allows gamers the ability to choose from two different modes of play as well, Survival or Creative.
Survival: Survival mode is what was described above in the introduction. The player is spawned into a randomly generated world with various terrain features such as hills, mountains, tundra, plains, forests, rivers, ravines and even oceans and arctic features. The player can choose to have a "bonus chest" to give them a helping hand, which usually includes one or two tools, some wood and little food. Other than that they are on their own to punch down trees to gather wood, turn that wood into wooden planks and planks into sticks. Players will build crafting tables and furnaces to further create more objects and tools. On the PC this would have been done by either knowing the recipe before hand or by guessing what goes where in the crafting window. However on the Xbox 360, in order to remove the burden of placing items one by one using thumbsticks (something that is much easier to do on a PC with a mouth, track pad or trackball) a new crafting menu was added. In addition to this, players spawn with a map to help them navigate the terrain, something that on PC can take a new player a long time to acquire. Once established, the player eventually goes into caves to mine ore, precious metals and gems to make better tools and new blocks to build with and even go to a new realm called the "Nether". All this is done while avoiding monsters (called hostile mobs) at night and in caves and farming or gathering food to keep their hunger meter full.
Creative: Creative mode allows the player access to infinite resources, the ability to fly, place and break blocks instantly and to generate a normal random map or to generate an all flat map called "superflat." A cool new addition to the Xbox 360 is the ability to load each map in either Creative or Survival mode each time it is loaded up again. However, loading a map in Creative disables achievements and leaderboard stats to avoid a gamer using "unfair" methods to earn the achievements or climb the leaderboards. This is the best mode for anyone who just wants to flex their creative muscles.
Also new to the Xbox 360 Edition is the inclusion of a tutorial map, which is highly recommended for anyone new to the game. Even veteran players can benefit from this map as it explains the controls and interface in full, as well as has a few fun and cleverly hidden easter eggs.
Overall gameplay is flawless to the PC counterpart of this beloved title, though a small number of glitches and bugs prevent a full rating of 10 in this category.
The controls translate perfectly to the Xbox 360 controller, and are simple to learn and remember. On screen UI displays common functions such as how to open your inventory or crafting interfaces. The left and right triggers take the place of the left and right mouse buttons while the left thumbstick is used for movement and the right thumbstick is used to look around. By clicking in the left thumbstick the player can change the camera to two different third person perspectives and clicking in the right thumbstick allows the player to "creep" which prevents falling from ledges. The left and right bumpers are used to navigate the various tabs of the crafting or inventory interfaces. A is used to jump as in most titles, B is used to drop what is currently in the players hand and X and Y open the inventory or crafting UI. By double tapping the left thumbstick forward, the player is able to sprint. It is the simplest it can be and it is easy for even non gamers to pick up a controller and get into the swing of things.
While this game may not have the high quality cutting edge graphics of blockbuster titles, the rating of a 10 in the category is based on the fact that it is 100 percent faithful to the PC original. Minecraft has an 8 bit feel to it, from the textures to the fact that everything is made of blocks. The colors are bright and cheerful and it lends a certain degree of playfulness to the game. The lighting system, however, is a little more advanced with the ability to produce different kinds of fog while in caves based on the players depth, different colors of light for different light sources.
The sound and music in Minecraft is whimsical and fun. The sound effects reflect what surface a player is walking on, whether it is raining or sunny and each type of block in the game makes a different noise when struck with a tool. Dirt, sand and gravel sound as though the player is digging through a grainy substance while wooden blocks make a thumping sound and stone sounds like, well, stone. Hostile and passive "mobs" (NPC creatures) each have their unique noises for when they are roaming the environment, being hurt or killed. The music featured in Minecraft only adds to this whimsical feeling and is all made by C418. The tracks feature piano and other classical elements and set a relaxing tone.
Play Time/Replayability 10/10
With the inclusion of the two game modes, players can spend hours upon hours either exploring deep into the mines and caves of Minecraft of flying about the world letting their creativity out in many ways. Since every map is randomly generated, the game is a new experience each time, so loading a new world and striking out to explore it never gets old.
Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition is just like it's PC counterpart in almost every way. The only differences being that the PC has had more updates, which the developer of the Xbox Edition has been adding over time at no charge. The changes that have been made are all improvements to make the experience on console more fluid and the only factor that keeps this game from being perfect are the few bugs or minor glitches that also affected the PC edition. Overall this game is a must try for anyone, as most who try it become hooked. At only 20 dollars, the content included is well worth the price tag and when you include all the future updates that will be free, one would be crazy to pass this deal up.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition (US, 05/09/12)
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