It would be hard to possess more than a passing interest in gaming without some knowledge of Minecraft, the gaming sandbox monolith that’s taken the world by storm ever since the its early embodiments of 2010. It has taken its time but with its release onto the Xbox Live Arcade, but since then, millions more gamers have a chance to embrace the blocky world. But how does the port play out and is it worth parting with your hard earned Microsoft Points?
In Minecraft you play in either first or third-person perspective as a cuboid gentlemen, in an equally angular world. There is a heavy focus on creativity, namely the ability to mine for materials and then use them to build almost anything. Your creative canvas is a 3D world of cubes, filled with fields, trees, hills, bodies of water and carefree animals.
The satisfaction comes from exploring and transforming your environment. The player starts the game with nothing, just the blocky fists of their avatar to punch trees. After you put in a few hours though, you are able to create anything you wish! So if you have an imagination and want to let it loose in a gameworld, this is the one for you! Minecraft is creative gaming at its best. In fact, this is the king of creative gaming as it allows the player to just do their thing.
If you are the sort of person who needs clear goals and structure in a game, then steer clear. This is not story driven gameplay and there is no way to finish the game, like a true sandbox. The onus is on the player to create their own adventure. But if you are stuck for ideas, just type the games title into Youtube and witness the gargantuan wonders that others before you have made, like castles, ships, entire towns, the millennium falcon and even a planet earth! Due to the endless possibilities the replay value is endless, as Minecraft is the most sandy of sandbox games.
Minecraft has an endearing quasi-retro art style that fits in perfectly with the cubes that make up the landscape. It is difficult to state that this game looks great, but any other art style would strike the players as out of place.
This review wouldn’t be complete without discussing the games cross over from the dark and nerdy land of the PC to the easily accessible console world. Developers at 4J Studios have done an outstanding job with Notch’s original in porting it to Microsoft’s console. Although this incarnation is limited at present, the plan is to update it to catch up with the current PC version. This version has certainly been through some tweaking for the console market, but it is generally for the better. A helpful initial tutorial guides you through your first steps, explaining the inventory and crafting systems. Building items has been made easier as the system shows the player what they need to create each item, and once all the materials are collected, it’s as easy as pressing a button. These new systems unquestionably make Minecraft more accessible and easier to understand, making it appealing to even the most casual of gamers. If you want to enjoy the mining and crafting experience from the comfort of your sofa rather than at your desk, this is the perfect purchase.
At the moment there are a few differences from the more up-to-date PC version which fans on the franchise may find annoying. There is no sprint button, but more importantly a total lack of mods, and these may be issues that we will see in the future.
On the plus side, Xbox know how to make multiplay easy. As previous fans will know, trying to game with your friends took a bit of know how on the PC. Now with the help of Xbox Live, mining with your friends is effortless, which only adds to the appeal. There is even split screen, so that you can build while sitting next to your friends all night long.
So Minecraft’s new manifestation on the Xbox has been a successful one, keeping the same core gameplay that has gained so much praise. Although it may not have done enough to temp the hardcore preexisting Minecraft fans, it will certainly introduce another horde of gamers to it’s ever growing fan-club.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is out now for just 1600 Microsoft Point (which isn’t real money so you dont have to worry about it).