REVIEW: Minecraft – Xbox Live Arcade
Unlike many of you, I never really played much Minecraft outside of a couple of play session and a little bit of the mobile version on my iPad. Hearing that this game was coming to the Xbox Live Arcade meant nothing to me in terms of excitement but I knew that this release would be a big deal. In the months leading up to it I started to get the Minecraft-bug. I somehow felt compelled to check it out, then Like a small child I jumped right in to the game trying to build ridiculous “forts” and “bases” for my block-dude that I call Barney!
To be honest, if you play Minecraft religiously you may not find any value in dropping $20 more dollars into this game, especially since it is not updated to the latest version and modding is not even plausible. But if you are the least bit interested you should hear me out.
Minecraft is a sandbox game that allows you to survive in the open wilderness by using the earth’s elements to craft whatever you mind can conjure up. It uses a block based building system to build structures that resembles giant pixels or you can think of everything as giant Lego blocks. The game has a day and night cycle that creates a bit of tension due to the fact that you will face off against zombies, spiders and other scary creatures when the sun goes down. Luckily once you get your crafting wits about you weapons are made available to fend off those creatures but in true video game fashion, they will eventually break. Resources are plentiful in the world of Minecraft and having a great inventory system is key to managing all of the resources you have and this game does a great job of keeping it simple. You have a row of inventory that will be on screen at all time that represents items that you have on your person. Switching between thee items requires use of the LB and RB buttons respectively making it easy to cycle to the next object you need. Your character also packs an inventory system that you bring up with the X button that keeps all of your items at your disposal. Switching back and forth and swapping items out was really easy but when you jump into the proper inventory screen it doesn’t pause the game. There were a couple of times that I found myself getting attacked while trying to equip my sword and that kind of stinks.
In the inventory system you get to look at your items and see what each item can be turned into. For instance, you can make sticks out of wood block, or you can combine blocks of sand to create sandstone. Creating a crafting table out of wood blocks in essential in the world of Minecraft, because at these crafting tables you open up more items to create including vital parts of the Minecraft experience such as the pickaxe. Progression is gradual and requires some exploration to find certain rare elements in the world. It is a simple yet satisfying experience once you learn how the core game works, so it should lend itself to any casual gamer as well as the hardcore folks. There is little else as far as game play goes in Minecraft, it is basically a sandbox for you and friends to play around with. Speaking of friends, the Xbox 360 version touts up to 4 player slit screen co-op and online play through invitation only. It may not be up to par as far as its pc counterparts, but offering local co-op has its advantages.
Overall the experience is really unique and something that embraces the sheer creativity of its players. Build, destroy and rebuild are key concepts to the fun in Minecraft. Creating anything from a castle to an amusement park. The sky (and invisible walls) are the limit to where you can go in this universe. There are not too many things that I really didn’t like about the experience except its 1600 Microsoft Point price. I feel that the experience is unique and something that console fans were waiting on. If money ain’t a thing then you should feel very pleased with your few euro purchase. For the veteran Minecrafters this may be too much of an investment for less features. Whatever your exposure to the experience, there is no denying the amount of fun that is to be had. I am just hoping we get some updates to add to the value of this version.
Overall I Would give the game 4 out of 5, losing the 1 point for the limitations of map space and items to play with but apart from that its awesome!