"Lives Up to the Hype"
Minecraft is a game with a retro but modern feel. Available in pre-release versions for a few years on PC, the sandbox game was finally in 2011 and had finally made its way to the Xbox 360. With graphics that look like they belong in the early 90s era MS-DOS that at first look glaring but kind of cute, they hide a game that truly is whatever you make it out to be.
In Minecraft, players take the role of Steve (really the default name of the avatar) as he is put in a sandbox world and must gather resources to build a house before the sun sets. The game could be seen as a series of days with two distinct halves: Day and Night. In daytime the player is generally safe and able to gather resources, explore the world and build objects to prepare themselves for the impending night time. When the sun sets and the world becomes dark, the game makes a complete turn around and becomes Survival Horror as the player dodges monsters that come out at night.
To survive the rough night, players must collect different types of materials in the world, such as wood, sand, cobble, and more. Upon starting a new world, players begin with just their hands and have to start out slowly chopping wood until they gather enough to make basic tools.
Minecraft's controls are pretty straightforward and easy to get used to, and shortcuts have been made to ensure Xbox 360 players aren't just wandering through the world with no idea about what to do. Recipes for objects are readily available in menus, which ensure that players won't have to scour the internet just to figure out how to create tools amongst other objects. In addition, a tutorial mode is available that stops time for a bit to show new players how to do things in the world.
Even with these additions to make the game accessible, Minecraft's essence isn't ruined. There is plenty that isn't revealed to the player that must be discovered through long term gameplay. When playing, I went with the tutorial at first, then decided to go ahead and try out a newly-generated world using my name as the seed (every word generates its own unique world), to deal with whatever the game throws at me. Using what I learned in the tutorial, I knew what to build to expand what I could, but when night time came around, it was a completely different story. I stayed near my camp and hoped I was well equipped enough to deal with the monsters that spawned in my fort; some nights I lived, some nights I died, scurrying back to where I passed in an attempt to get my items back. Aside from not dying, the biggest accomplishment made during that playthrough in particular was gathering enough leather to make armor.
While Minecraft is a game highly based on experimentation and trial and error, there are a few changes that the game could have done to make things a bit easier for new players. First, there's no way to pause and have a game accessible to other players online. This may sound like something extremely nitpicky, but there were times when the game would prompt the Xbox's menu due to an achievement at the wrong moment, getting my player killed before I could get back in the game. Another time, I was in the middle of saving and an enemy must have hopped a gate near my fort and decimated the place I built the exact moment I pressed save.
Minecraft is the type of game that doesn't come around too often; it's the type that is so hyped up that you don't want to try it, but when you finally try it, you'll see that it's worth the hype. I've played it for hours and feel as if I have barely skimmed the surface of what is available to do in the game. The more I say about what it is, the more I feel as if I ruined the experience of other players new to the game. It's just that fresh.
GameDynamo's Score for Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition (X360)
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