Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
Developer: 4J Studios, Mojang
Release Date: May 9, 2012
Price: 1600 MSP ($20) – Available Here
There are many games in the world which are developed by hundreds of workers with millions of dollars spent on creating massive story driven experiences. However there is one game which has none of these things and still has become a main attraction for anyone who plays games on their computer and that game is Minecraft. Nearly everyone on the internet has most likely heard of this blocky game one way or another as the game’s success has reached unheard of levels.
Now the same experience which has become a major timesink for PC gamers and even mobile gamers around the world is now available with the Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition. While some PC gamers may have been a bit angry to see their beloved game show up on a console, this has made Minecraft’s many enjoyable features available to a much broader audience. However can Minecraft’s Xbox 360 Edition provide the same experience fans are looking for?
Visuals & Audio:
At first glance many would believe that Minecraft was a game from the late 90’s as the graphics are, to be frank, extremely “retro” and outdated. However the blocky nature of the world takes on a life of its own and the pixelated landscape and wildlife all seem to create an atmospheric world unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Every world the player can explore is absolutely massive with a surprisingly large amount of detail, including a number of animals and monsters to face off against all featuring the same blocky structure of the rest of the title. The fact that the game’s background music is absolutely delightful to listen to only helps make every world in Minecraft a joy to explore and experience. In the end, how Minecraft appears is mostly up to the player in the strictest sense as players can mine huge caverns, create gigantic structures and more. Practically the only limit to what you can create in Minecraft is your imagination.
It is worth noting that with the transfer to consoles also comes a slight problem with text size as many players will be playing the game from the comfort of their couch. As such, a lot of the text and images in the inventory system are quite small and difficult to read. This problem is only worsened when split-screen is enabled so be prepared to squint or move closer to the screen if you happen to need an item you don’t know by heart.
The fact that Minecraft has countless hours of many players’ lives is a bit of an oddity at first glance because Minecraft is, at its core, a simple open world where players are free to do whatever they feel like with absolutely no storyline holding them down. With no story driven gameplay players are able to set their own goals or just explore the various worlds of Minecraft to their hearts content.
Minecraft uses randomly generated sandbox worlds which players are then able to explore, mine and craft various things. Everything in the world has multiple uses and it is the player’s job to put them to use. As you begin you start with absolutely nothing, however punching a tree can produce a block of wood and digging in the dirt can give you some dirt or sand to work with. Attack a cow to get some leather which can be used to make armor or some sheep to get their wool which can then be used for a number of things.
The various items you acquire using this method can then be crafted into tools. For example you can use wood to create a crafting table to then make more wood into wooden planks and then turn those planks into sticks which can then be turned into tools to further your mining capabilities with an axe, shovel, pickaxe and more. Tools and weapons all can break over time, with stronger versions of these tools lasting longer. Creating nearly anything requires resources which is more or less the entire basis of what Minecraft is. Mining resources and crafting anything you can imagine, whether it is gigantic castles, dungeons deep beneath the earth or even a demonic looking area full of lava.
Although the basis of Minecraft is to build things, there are also a number of dangers which lurk around when night falls. One of the first things players will do is create some sort of shelter to hide out in as the worlds of Minecraft are also home to plenty of creatures willing to destroy you and what you have built. Spiders, zombies, skeletons simply seek to kill you while exploding Creepers can destroy large swathes of your creations when they explode. Hiding within an enclosure will keep you safe from harm outside and any light sources will discourage their approach.
It is worth noting that roaming about in the daytime is also quite dangerous as various creatures will lurk within pre-existing caves and players can even dig themselves into a large underground cavern full of dangerous creatures that are seeing food for the first time in ages. Death isn’t a major detriment however as players will immediately respawn at the last bed they slept in or at the starting area if there are no beds and they simply need to return to where they died to pick up all the items they dropped upon death. Also those who want a peaceful experience can turn the difficulty down to “Peaceful” and no enemies will appear to ruin your nighttime mining, though this does take away from whatever challenge is actually offered in the game.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is practically identical to the original PC product but a number of accommodations and additions have been made to make things a bit easier for console players. Crafting objects is easier than ever with players no longer needing to manually place materials into a crafting zone. Instead players simply need to select an item to create if they have all the materials for it, and if they don’t it is easy enough to see what you are missing.
Also worth noting is that there is now a Tutorial Mode to choose from which will drop players into a Minecraft world with a number of items and houses already built. Tutorial Mode also gives players a full walkthrough of nearly every aspect of Minecraft. Even outside of the Tutorial Mode players are often presented small descriptions of new materials they come across.
Also added into the mix is the ability to play up to four-player split-screen with your friends in local co-op. This is a nice little feature that brightens up the game world as you explore alongside your friends and dig deeper and craft faster than before with the help of those next to you. Also available is an eight player online mode though it appears that the only way to enter other players worlds or have them join yours is to have them on your Friend’s list, making it difficult to just find a random world to play in.
As mentioned before, how much pleasure you take out of Minecraft ultimately relies upon how much patience you have as a gamer and how open you are to creating your own experience. Those who are looking for any structure to their gameplay or run out of ideas may quickly find themselves bored with the experience. This is only made worse by the fact that any major undertaking will take a very long time.
Minecraft is extremely slow paced and is a major timesink for anyone looking to create massive creations. Even if you are playing with your friends you may find yourself spending hours digging holes in the ground, all the way down to the bedrock, just to find enough resources to create a few things. Mining itself can also begin to feel like a chore as you dig for hours and hours just to acquire one or two items necessary for what you are planning on making. It also doesn’t help that the game’s walking speed is very slow and unmodifiable. In fact the only way to get around faster is to create a minecart which also requires a track to run on. These two things also take plenty of resources to create which you will have to simply dig down and find.
This requires a lot of patience and will to slog through hours of grinding in the dirt. While some may be willing to do this to level up in MMOs or any other RPG, there is no endgame to Minecraft. If you manage to create what you wanted to create, then all you can do is show it off to your friends. As I said before, Minecraft is as fun as you make it out to be and those who find wonder in its blocky world will spend hours upon hours creating various structures and digging into the earth to discover more resources to create even fancier structures, a suit of golden armor, a massive farm of sorts or anything you could possibly imagine.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is a gateway to a world of unending exploration and building which some may wish to enter but only at the cost of their own free time. The pleasure that can be derived from reaching your goals in Minecraft only result upon hours of hard work and perseverance. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is far from a perfect game for everyone and many people will see it as a boring little title with barely anything to offer.
On the other hand those who find themselves enraptured in the experience of mining and crafting will find themselves amazed when they look up at the clock and see that six hours have passed since they started mining away for gold and diamonds. With tutorials and a more streamlined creation system and future updates promised, even Kinect support, Microsoft: Xbox 360 Edition brings with it countless hours of entertainment for those who make it themselves.