Game Review: Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
Now, I’m going to take a shot in the dark and assume, for a moment, that you’ve never heard of Minecraft until now. If that’s the case, your life is incomplete. Minecraft is an indie game, and a massively popular one at that, and it revolves around doing anything and everything. Essentially, the environment is made of blocks- living blocks, like a massive Lego world that grows and dies (and sometimes kills). The world is yours- you can take blocks, mine rocks and create structures that stretch into the sky- your only limit is imagination.
The game takes place from a first-person perspective (though you can swap to third person if you prefer). At the outset of the game, you have the option to enter a “seed”, a set of numbers/letters that will control the game’s landscape generation. I find that the seed “Artomix” creates a pretty cool environment, even though the best results from said seed will probably appear in an update to the game sometime later this year.
You play as “Steve”, a blocky humanoid with the uncanny ability to punch his way through wood, dirt, and even to knock the wool off a sheep. Your aim is to carve a living out of the land, and as you accumulate materials such as wood, you’ll be able to craft them into new tools, weapons, and materials. This is one of the reasons I really love the Xbox 360 edition of Minecraft: the PC version is much harder to play without the magic of Google. You see, in order to craft something in the PC version, you must assemble the materials on a crafting table in a shape vaguely resembling the object you intend to create. The Minecraft Wiki is massively useful in this regard, but needing to look things up breaks the game’s immersion. Thus, the Xbox 360 version: When you want to craft something, you’re able to see exactly what you can make, and what it will take to do it. There’s no assembling things- just select what you want and with the press of a button, it’s yours. I must say that the inventory system was handled well as well- it’s not at all awkward to use with a controller, and the ability to quickly organize everything is a welcome addition.
Minecraft falls under the category of a sandbox game- you’re free to do whatever. If you feel like going for a swim, you can do that. If you want to punch the wool off a sheep, explore a cave, or create TNT and blow the world to bits, you’re free to. The things you can do in Minecraft are far to numerous and beautiful for me to name or number, but if you want to build a monument to the greatness of your face, you’re free to. The game features a material known as “redstone”, and it can be used as a power source for simple machines.
Quite frankly, it almost feels futile to attempt to explain the game, because while the experience sounds simple, it’s infinitely vast, and it’s one that will grow into the foreseeable future. Mojang continually adds new content, creatures, features and I’m pretty sure that at the end of its commercial life, when Notch releases it into the public domain, Minecraft will likely be a multinational network of connected nervous systems, each mind a blocky little world unto itself.
Aesthetically, the game’s very simple. Everything is angular, blocky, and kind of pixelated. Intentionally. While I don’t think that it’s exactly cubist, the game’s art makes it a very surreal experience, one that oughtn’t be missed. I think Minecraft is truly the measure of a game- not from the perspective of a narrative medium (there’s other games for that), but rather from the perspective of making something that’s fun, engaging, and that manages to scare the living daylights out of you with really big green rectangle (if you don’t understand now, you will understand if you ever start playing). As far as sound goes, the sound effects are all decent, and the game’s music? Typically soothing (though there’s occasionally a slightly more nerve-jarring note). For the most part, it pops in every so often and fills you with warm, fuzzy feelings.
Quite frankly, trying to explain Minecraft would be like attempting to fully describe life, love, and the ending of Lost– you can’t, and you probably shouldn’t try to waste time trying. Instead, I’m going to tell you to go forth and buy this game, because it’s worth every single penny. It’s always fun, sometimes terrifying, and after playing, you feel as though you’ve done something- you will feel satisfied.