The game that has taken the PC world by storm has finally come to Xbox 360 Arcade and my, does it deliver. Having never really played the computer version, I was eager to test it out, and it wasn’t long before I was quickly hooked. Whilst it does not include all the additions and trimmings of the original version, Mojang Studios have done an excellent job in converting the game to play on the console.
For those who have never played Minecraft, it is essentially a huge sandbox filled with resources which one mines, and then builds things with. Depending on how many resources one acquires, this can range from a small wooden house with a few windows to an elaborate city complete with towers, walls, train tracks and so on. The possibilities for creativity are nearly endless. In many ways it harked back to my childhood when I’d sit on the floor with a pile of lego bricks in front of me deciding what to construct next.
From the outside, Minecraft sounds simple. However, there is so much more depth to it than just mining and building. Tools and items and weapons all have to be built in order to dig deeper and mine certain resources such as gold or obsidian, as well as protect and defend oneself.
Depending on the settings you use, the world can be filled with a collection of dastardly creatures including zombies, skeletons and the famous ‘creepers’, all of which want you dead. Such creatures only come out at night meaning exploration above ground during the day is free from danger.
However, as you explore dark caverns in the depths of the world, armour and swords are needed to fend off these pixelated monsters.
Crafting items is a lot easier than it is in the PC version. Having the correct items is all that is required. Furthermore, there is a brief tutorial that allows you to come to grips with the world and shows you a few basics to survive, unlike the PC version which throws newcomers in at the deep end.
Despite lacking some of the latest updates that the computer version has, its accessibility and ease of use make it just as, if not more, attractive as a game. Microsoft has also revealed that it plans to release updates and new content packages in the upcoming months to compliment the game as well as fix any bugs.
Perhaps what sold Minecraft to me most, other than the creativity aspect, was the multiplayer. As well as playing online with friends, split screen is also an option, and allows up to four players to play on one console, something which is refreshing especially as many games simply focus on the online aspect.
Having someone play next to you is a lot of fun, as both of you work together to build huge stone fortresses or mine down deep into the world in the search for dungeons, diamonds and gold, all the while keeping a look out for spiders or lava flows. Mojang has taken what was considered quite a solitary game and made it a sociable one. So sociable that you can even share screenshots of your creations via Facebook.
Finally, what makes this game stand out from others is its aesthetic. Taking a very retro look, everything is in a rectangular form. Whilst it won’t win any awards for its graphics, the simplicity only adds to the ease of use as it makes clear what each resource is.
All in all, Minecraft is an excellent downloadable game. Whilst PC veterans may feel it lacks to much compared with the original, it still has a lot to offer, and I advise newcomers especially to check it out.