Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition Review
The blocks are your playground.
Minecraft, the game that has swept the PC and mobile world by storm, arrives this week on the Xbox Live Arcade, and I was pretty excited to see what all the fuss has been about. Is it really as good as the millions of obsessed gamers claim it to be, and is it worth the high 1600 MS Point price tag? The simple answer is Yes.
Minecraft is like the Seinfeld of video games, because it’s a video game about nothing. When you start-up a game you will enter a generated world of blocks, and it’s up to you to decide what to do with them. These massive worlds will be made up of randomly placed mountains, trees, caves, and other block structures that are all surrounded by water and you can pick away at it and shape it how you want. There are no missions or quests, no storyline and no other characters (aside from some animals) to interact with, only a world waiting for you to create it. You have a world made of blocks and the freedom to do whatever you want with them.
Where things do get a bit more involved is at night-time, because unless you turn them off (play on Peaceful Difficulty) to enjoy some peaceful building time, Zombies, Skeletons, Spiders and other enemies will come out and attack you. If you choose to play this way, you will have to build some sort of shelter to hide from these creatures until you are ready to make some weapons. I almost found it more annoying to play with the enemies turned on when I was playing alone, so it’s nice that you can turn them off. Even though you have unlimited respawns, if you die you will drop all of your items that you were carrying, and it can be a pain to try to find them in the dark, so it’s better to just hide and decorate the inside of your shelter during the darkness of night.
The blocks in Minecraft are made up of different types, which can be mined to use as resources to craft new items such as shovels, axes, beds, armor, chests, fences, food and many other items to create your world with. Not all of the blocks are mined the same way and different tools mine different blocks faster than others, such as the pick axe mines stone much faster than the shovel. As you remove blocks from the generated world, they are deposited in your inventory so you can place them later as you see fit. You can build houses, castles, caves, waterfalls, tree forts or whatever other structures you can think of by using these blocks that you have collected.
I started off by building a simple castle to protect myself from the creatures of the night, and it eventually grew to have multiple levels, a moat all the way around it and a bridge from the side of the castle to another island across a lake of water in between them. Next I created a group of tree houses, all connected by bridges, Ewok style. I’m only semi-creative when it comes to creating in-game content so these were my masterpieces but the possibilities are endless. If you can think it, you can build it. It’s not something you just pick up and do quickly either, as collecting blocks to build something is a painstaking process and requires dedication and a decent chunk of free time. It’s so easy to find yourself starting at 1pm, only to look up and see that it’s now 5pm and you have barely scratched the surface with your creation.
At the same time, I’ve never played a game for so long, and in the end feel like I didn’t really accomplish anything, but still had a great time doing it. I must have asked myself “now what?” every hour or so, and yet I didn’t want to stop playing. No other game has given me the freedom to create like Minecraft does, and that’s what is so great about it. If you’ve ever stared at a pile of LEGO and wondered what to build next, that’s what playing Minecraft is like. It’s up to you to decide what’s next and how you want to do it.
The Xbox 360 Edition of Minecraft was said to have Kinect Functionality, but it’s not available at launch, so sadly we weren’t able to test that out. Microsoft have said that the Kinect functionality will be released as part of several planned updates to the game over the coming months, which will also new include new texture packs and character skins as well. Hopefully these updates will also bring the Creative mode that the PC and Mobile versions have seen in their updates.
Minecraft on the Xbox 360 supports drop-in, drop-out 2-4 player local co-op and 2-8 player co-op when you play online. As much as some people love playing split-screen, I really didn’t like it with Minecraft as you lose so much of you view and that is very important when trying to see the world as you build it. With that being said, having split screen available is great for those who don’t mind losing some of the view, or if you have a few kids who like to play games together. Minecraft is an all ages game, and kids will love to create new worlds together.
Every world that you create can be played online or offline. So you can start a world alone or with some friends, and then continue to work on it whether they are online or not. One of the things I was hoping to find, but was disappointed that it was not included, was some sort of world sharing option. I know the point is to make your own world and downloading someone else’s would defeat some of the purpose, but it would have still been really cool to be able to check out other players creations.
Much like Seinfeld was a show about nothing, but was one of the most hilarious shows ever, Minecraft is a video game about nothing, but will keep you busy and entertained for hours. If building a world out of blocks sounds boring to you, then you have come to the wrong place and you could easily get two other games on the Xbox Live Arcade for your 1600 MS Points. On the other hand, if you are creative, have tons of patience and love video games that let you create, then you will love Minecraft, even if you never really figure out what to do next.