My fellow miners rejoice Minecraft has finally hit the Xbox 360 Marketplace. Grab your crafting tables and pick axes as we mine our way through this review. Minecraft brings gamers back into the heyday of gaming when gaming was about art and creation. This is essentially a survival game mixed into a level creation kit. Which means you get to build what ever you want! The catch is however you have to find the materials needed first to do so. This is better than that of fetch quests and coin collecting found in other games because here you will get to explore the vast randomly generated maps made up of mountains, caves and herds of sheep.
Creation in this game is one of its main driving points as you will need to actually get the materials from your pixellated world. The experience of doing so is not only rewarding but just great fun. Only if you have the patience of a senior citizen and a curiosity of a toddler. Once you have spawned and start playing for the first time you are given nothing but a map. Brief instances of text pop up as a tutorial for each new animal, material and tool you come across. Not only does the tutorial not intrude gameplay like other games, it benefits the game as it encourages simple yet brilliant game design.
Minecraft allows your imagination to run wild by creating large unique structures your brilliant brain comes up with. First off Tools and equipment are needed as you will need to create a small shelter as quickly as possible once you start the game. The reason being is that monsters typically spawn at night attacking anything in sight including you. Also with it being night-time the world becomes a very dark place, especially if no light has been created in the form of torches (which is up to you to create) for your Minecraft utopia. As noted earlier the game is more of a survival game mixed in with a unique and robust level editor in the form of playing the game.
The materials you have gathered are all located in a convenient grid that holds up to 64 of the same item per square. Since you will be digging A LOT around your world it is always best to have just enough tools to get the job done and when building make sure you have a large amount of building material as you will quickly see it diminish during construction. Each material takes one spot on the world which is pretty much made up of a grid like 3D environment. To place dirt you simply select it from the tool bar which is located at the bottom of the screen by using LB and RB found on the controller and using the right trigger to place an object or material. Materials gathered can be edited further by using a crafting table.
Once a crafting table has been made items can be made only if the specified materials have been gathered. An example for this is when creating a bucket which holds everything from water, lava, and dairy product formerly known as milk. To create a bucket you will need to find 3 iron ore pieces. With the iron found the next step will be to have it smelted to create iron ingots. In order to do this step you will need a furnace(created with 8 cobblestones) and some kind of burning material such as wood. And finally once the 3 iron ingots have been smelted you can create a bucket. Not only are these tasks tedious, it is are also very rewarding once completed.
Finally one of the best reasons to play Minecraft is the multiplayer. The Xbox 360 version allows easy access to a friends game by dropping in and out of their worlds so long as they are playing in it. Also included is the ability to have up to 4 players play at the same time via split-screen as shown above. 8 players is the maximum population for each world and with up to 1 million downloads in the first week it shouldn’t be hard to find friends and fellow gamers to achieve this mark. With that comes one minor gripe and that is public worlds as it would have been nice to be able to go into a strangers world to see what has been built. Yet it is understandable knowing some gamers take great joy in destroying others worlds. So a big tip for you newbs out there save often!
Minecraft is not only a breath of fresh air if you have never played the PC version it is a great step forward in gaming. Yes the PC version is far more advanced and has cool mods. But the Xbox 360 version has really been able to take advantage of the use of a controller by mapping the button layout flawlessly. It also takes multiplayer a step further than its PC counter part with how easy it is to jump in and out of games. Yes 19.99 is a steep price tag especially for a XBLA game so remember to try before you buy.