Review: Minecraft for Xbox 360
- — 21 May, 2012 22:00
|Name||Indie game: Minecraft: The Xbox 360 Edition|
|Summary:||A solid port of an already addictive game.|
|Games Info:||Developer: Mojang; Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios|
|Test Platform:||Xbox 360|
Indie game studio Mojang recently introduced the 'Lego' of video games, Minecraft, to the Xbox 360. So how does it stack up (har, har) against the PC version?
Very well, actually.
Minecraft, for the uninitiated, is a very simple game. There's no clear objective - you just build stuff out of blocks that you harvest from the resources in your environment. You can build a house made of wood, gathered from trees. Or from cobblestone, after you smash a stone wall to pieces. You can tinker around and make weapons, and armour, and tools. You can befriend the wolves, shear the sheep, and reap porkchops from the poor, unsuspecting pigs. Almost everything you can see can be broken down and used in some way. Then night falls, and the monsters come out. Your only defenses are whatever you've built for yourself using the resources you've collected.
It's important to note here that getting the most out of your Xbox 360 Minecraft experience requires an HDTV and a buddy or three to play with. That's because the Xbox version is the first to feature splitscreen play (up to four players), which enables you to craft, mine, and build while sitting on the couch with a friend next to you. You have two options for splitscreen - a vertical or horizontal split - but both provide you with enough screen real estate to see what you're doing. But if you don't have an HDTV, you won't be able to use the splitscreen function at all.
For the Xbox Minecraft, beginners won't have to read a wiki to understand the basics of the game as they did for the PC version. There's a relatively simple tutorial mode that will teach you the basics of moving, mining, crafting, building and fishing. It also helpfully warns you that the night is dark and full of terrors. In tutorial mode, however, nighttime never comes, so it's a safe place to explore and experiment while you get your bearings on the game.
You also have a bit of assistance with crafting - rather than having to experiment and discover for youself which things go together, there's a crafting menu that lays it all out for you. You just mine the right ingredients from your environment then head to your crafting table - the game even tells you what you need to make a crafting table in the first place.
And before you know it, eight hours have passed and you've built a monumental castle out of gold that you smelted in your hand-crafted furnace, and you have some epic iron armour and weapons galore.
Okay, so you probably won't get that far in eight hours. The night before writing this review I played a game with two others. We spent the first little while wandering around, checking out various locations on the map in order to decide where to camp. Serious rookie mistake: nighttime descended all too quickly. It was getting very dark by the time we slapped together a 3x3 block room made out of dirt, with no crafting table, no torches, and no roof. One of my companions decided to mine for ore, despite the fact that no one could see a thing. When morning came, I didn't know about it - my pickaxe-happy companion had accidentally buried me after digging beneath my feet. Once I realised what had happened, he piled more dirt on top of me. Naturally.
On the plus side, he'd managed to scrape together a couple of torches. But our new home wasn't near any of the most crucial resources - wood and stone - so we had to move on. We built three different homes in a few hours, trying to find a place where we'd be safe. We even constructed a stone house where the only access point was a set of stairs, as we chipped away at the rest of the mountain until there was no other way for monsters to get up. Nonetheless, they climbed our steps and a creeper blew a hole in one of our walls.
After several hours, we settled in a stone fortress we constructed in a cavern, with resources aplenty. We never found any gold to make our monumental castle, though.
The great thing about Minecraft is that the game is always like this - you potter around in the daytime, mining for resources without a care in the world, and then when night falls you've got a whole different game on your hands. Even if the Xbox version of the game is a slightly older build than the latest PC version - it doesn't have a food system, and you can awesomely shear sheep with your bare hands - all the features that make the game so great are there. Minecraft for Xbox 360 is a solid port, and I know I'm not the only Xbox user who's gotten hooked all over again.