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Minecraft 1.0 review

Excellent

Why is Minecraft one of the most famous indie games of all time? Versatility and near-infinite replayability. Want to accomplish a series of goals and clear the final boss? Minecraft has that. Want to explore a series of underground ruins and caverns, unearthing fabulous treasures? That, too. Want to create a 1:1 scale replica of the battle of Sekigahara using snowmen? Hey, if you have the time, Minecraft can accommodate you. Now, after a development cycle of over a year and a half, as well as many patches, the final version of this long-in-progress phenomenon is finally upon us. So how does the finished product stack up?

Above: Get it? Because of the blocks?

To begin with, here’s an introduction for those not familiar with the game: You start with nothing in a randomly-generated world made of cubes, filled with various types of environments (called Biomes), as well as wildlife like cows and pigs, with no tools or shelter. At nighttime, the kooky cartoon vibe of the game turns more sinister, and monsters such as zombies, skeleton archers, and the dreaded explosive Creepers come out to try and kill you. Your goal is to build shelter, craft tools, find food and survive long enough to create deep mineshafts, where you’ll gather the rare materials needed to reach the end-game goal. Shelter keeps the monsters at bay, while food allows you to regenerate lost health, and keeps you from starving to death.

The presentation of the game is deceptively simple. The blocky graphics aren’t going to strain your video card, but they have a unique charm, and Minecraft’s aesthetic has become the most recognizable aspect of the game. It’s also a key part of the gameplay, as the entire game revolves around destroying blocks of the environment, collecting the raw materials this leaves behind, and using them to build something cool. (And if nothing else, those of us who tend toward obsessive compulsion will appreciate how easy the blocky design makes stacking and aligning things with one another).

Above: Symmetry is the new sexy

Getting through the game means you’re going to be using the game’s simple crafting system quite a bit, which in turn means you’re going to do a lot of mining for raw materials. To mine effectively, you need to make some basic tools out of wood, which can be punched apart with your bare hands. After gathering better materials, like iron ore, you can create iron tools, which in turn allow you to mine better materials, like diamonds. And that’s the essence of the game: one big, positive feedback cycle. Doing one thing enables you to do another better. Once you get good enough at mining and killing monsters, for example, you can build an enchantment table and use your experience points (garnered by killing creatures) to make your tools more powerful… and kill more monsters. It’s this basic wheels-within-wheels design philosophy that’s caused so many to lose hours and even whole days to Minecraft.

Unlike in previous iterations, Minecraft no longer throws you to the wolves, expecting you to find out how to make and do everything on your own. A growing tree of Achievements in the game provides guidance on how to make new items and tools, and how to use them to get to the end of the game. The gameplay itself is rewarding enough in itself, though, and the rush of finding a vein of diamonds or an ancient cave deep in the earth is something no other game really offers.

Once you’ve gotten a grip on the basic cycle of gather-craft-gather, don’t assume that the game has no more challenges to offer. Now that it’s “complete,” the world of Minecraft has quite a few more curveballs to throw at you, starting with the new end-game goal. In previous versions of the game, there was no real ending, and the game just kept going forever. A goal to work toward is what fans have waited for the longest, so it’s only fitting that it’s in the “final” version.

Beating the game means you’re going to have to go to the Nether (Minecraft’s version of hell, which now sports ruined buildings) at least once. Just getting there requires at least 10 blocks of Obsidian (one of the trickiest blocks to farm, as they’re always next to lava), and once you do, you’ll have to jump through some onerous combat, collection and crafting hoops before you’ll even get an inkling as to where the portal to the end boss is (and it’s always hidden in a dungeon deep underground). So there’s a fair bit to do in the game, even if you spend no time building things in the huge, open world – which you invariably will. Even if you ignore the addictiveness of building your own soaring, continually evolving fortresses, the new potions and enchantments aren’t going to craft themselves.

Above: Our Arcanorium is fully stocked with potion brewing stands and enchantment tables/books

Another new addition, the potions and enchantments are a huge piece of content in their own right. The new Brewing Stand and Enchantment Table both require advanced materials to make, and using it to enchant tools, weapons and armor consumes the skill points you gain by leveling up. Meanwhile, potions require a diverse mixture of materials and have a large range of effects, from restoring health instantly to granting resistance to fire damage.

Also new is the ability to create snow golems, friendly snowmen with pumpkin heads that hurl snowballs at hostile creatures. Add to these to a few tamed wolves (created by giving bones to stray wolves), and suddenly you have a veritable army on your side. Probably the weirdest new addition to the final version of Minecraft, however, is the Mooshroom. This is a creature that can be sheared for mushrooms, milked for mushroom stew, and looks like the sad result of a terrible accident involving a cow, a mushroom, a teleporter and Jeff Goldblum.

Above: Equal parts cool and horrifying

In addition to the standard Survival mode (described above), there are now two additional modes, Hardcore and Creative. Hardcore is like Survival, except your death is permanent – no respawns. Creative, meanwhile, gives you infinite blocks of every type, unlimited health, and the ability to fly. This mode is for those who just want to build and don’t want the hassle of exploring and gathering materials.

All of these modes can be played on a multiplayer server, which can be especially rewarding, as you and other players can build cooperatively at the same time, or marvel at each other’s structures as you happen by them. The multiplayer worlds are persistent, and display players and blocks in real time, but they do require a dedicated host server.

Now that it’s finally “finished,” Minecraft stands as a remarkable achievement - not only a well-rounded gaming experience, but a chance for players to experiment, explore freely and reshape their environment to an almost ludicrous level. If you own a computer and haven't given Minecraft a try, you're missing one of the most unique experiences of this generation.

Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition Review

By Clint Demeritt

The darling of hardcore gamers and game designers alike, Minecraft's blocky aesthetic and open-ended, Do-It-Yourself gameplay have charmed millions. After years of public beta testing and polish, Xbox 360 owners can now get in on all the tree-punch, creep-dodging fun with Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition. If you’re totally unfamiliar with the game, there’s plenty to explore and enjoy, and it’s easy to get lost in its numerous charms.

Minecraft has a pretty simple concept: You mine blocks to reconfigure them into whatever pattern you see fit and at night, monsters come out to terrorize you and your creations. People have created all sorts of wonders such as replicas of the Starship Enterprise, rollercoasters, as well as mechanical shooting galleries.

Obviously, the title takes on two meanings: Apart from the mining part of the game, there is also quite a bit of crafting. You have to make tools: axes to help fell trees, picks to collect precious metals and swords to fend off deadly zombies and exploding creeps. You can also maintain rails to guide mine carts and there is also a pretty mechanism system with wires and switches to activate machines and trap doors.

On console, the crafting aspect of the game offers much more guidance than its PC counterpart. On the computer, crafting is done Horadric Cube style – players arrange ingredients on a grid to create the various tools and structures. It offers some nice versatility, but can often leave players in the dark on what to make. In the Xbox version, there is a list of outputs to select from, giving players a much better idea of what they can create. It's a nice feature, but on the other hand, it’s occasionally difficult to find a specific item that you want to craft.

The game does have some combat mechanics, but Minecraft is mostly about exploration and creation. Players can craft swords, bows, arrows and armor, but that’s about it. You won't be casting spells or leveling up stats. Most of the time, when you see a monster you'll be running the other way, pleading for them not to kill you. However, Minecraft does offer other dimensions filled with menacing mobs and an end-game boss.

The game has a charming aesthetic, though its blocky and pixilated style feels like a Nintendo 64-era title. It works well here, though it won't be winning any beauty contests nor will it push the Xbox's hardware.

Minecraft can best be described as oddly gripping. On the surface, it seems shallow, but it’s very deep. It is one of those “minutes to learn, but years to master” types of games. You’ll have access to most of the tools and material you will need within the first hour. But you can spend days finding and rearranging those materials into your perfect house, or lose yourself for hours creating your own underground rollercoaster. To get the most enjoyment out of Minecraft, your creativity and ingenuity will be put to the test, and the game gives you the tools to do just that. Minecraft mostly leaves you to your own devices, which is both its greatest strength and its most frustrating element.

Because Minecraft is such a self-guided experience, you’ll have to step outside of the game to get the most from it. Odds are, you’ll have to consult a wiki to discover all its moving parts. Fortunately, the console version has a tutorial, so while you’ll still need to consult some outside assistance, you’re not quite as up a creek sans paddle as you would’ve been playing it in its earlier PC incarnations. Yet, some will argue the fun in Minecraft is discovering how everything works. And it is a joy to play around with powered mechanisms in the game to see how they work. But, for some (read: some console gamers who don't have a PC rig for gaming), this “leave the player be” design philosophy can also be horrible frustrating when you die and you can't find your body again to recover your dropped loot, or get stuck wandering around in some mineshaft. It's irksome to spend an hour hollowing out a mineshaft, getting about a hundred feet away, and then never being able to find it again.

If you've been playing Minecraft on PC, you may find a few things sorely missing at this version's launch, such as pistons. We received confirmation that while Minecraft: Xbox 360 version is based on version 1.66 of Minecraft, some things are forthcoming, and indeed, those pistons will be one of the first items to be updated into the game around launch. But the Xbox version does offer 4-player split screen, which offers a more personal touch for jumping into co-op crafting, and you can play over Xbox Live. 

Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is a fun game bursting with humor and charm. If you have been interested in it, but either don’t have a gaming PC, or have procrastinated on trying it out, now is a good time to jump onboard. It really encourages players to think and evaluate, be creative, and engage with a digital environment in ways few other games have achieved. As timesinks go, this is a great one. You’ll find yourself searching for hours for that last diamond needed to create high-level armor, or put the finishing touches on a gigantic castle. There are a few frustrating sections inherent to its self-guided experience, but it doesn't stop the game from being enjoyable. Minecraft is a game well worth investing countless hours into.

Good

  • Open-ended sandbox world and gameplay
  • Building original creations and mechanisms
  • Humor and wit

Bad

  • Getting lost
  • Dying and not being able to find the stuff you dropped
  • Exploding creepers taking out part of your house

Score: ****

More Info

Release date: Nov 18 2011 - PC (US)
Available Platforms: PS3, PC
Genre: Simulation
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Fantasy Violence

Topics

Minecraft Mojang

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46 comments

  • jecika-chan - February 18, 2014 4:07 p.m.

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  • Josephtomassi - February 9, 2014 3:19 a.m.

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  • MonicaJae - August 15, 2012 11:32 p.m.

    why is MINECRAP in this? because of the sales volume?? please. first of all, minecrap sux for the pc. especially if you have an embedded gpu. what, you're gonna go out and buy a new pc JUST so you can play this fat piece of shit's game? because if you bought an incompatible pc/laptop BEFORE the game was released, you are pretty FUCKED. LIKE ME. worst 27 dollars spent EVER. i bought it for my son thinking, "oh i have this." what a fucking joke. and the forum is FULL of people complaining that they can't play the fucking "game" because it LAGS SO HARD. More than 90% of those "happy gamers". i'm selling my account for twenty usd if you want it. wanna make some of my money back. my son is miserable because i can't get this piece of shit to work. i mean, work out of the box, will you? i shouldn't have to alter code or download this or read that for this shit. And i most DEFINITELY should not have to spend more money on a compatible system JUST to be able to play this horse shit. this is america goddamn it and i like being the lazy, remote control holding woman i am. i have put more into trying to get this fucking joke of a JAVA PROGRAM to work than i had to reading Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in college. oh yeah i went there. bring it on.
  • seanbidwell - October 21, 2012 12:03 a.m.

    Did you check the system requirments BEFORE getting it?
  • iamthelol - March 3, 2013 11:49 a.m.

    OMG YOUR COMPUTER IS CRAP
  • Jalen-Steele - January 1, 2012 8:28 p.m.

    Minecraft in my opinion is actually really boring at first but after you get settled and start mining to the point where you get diamond thing it gets really fun. I didn't like it at the start too, but it grew on me, and if your like "Tobuscus" you can really have fun with it. I personally love the creepers, they can actually help you out if you need to dig a hole.
  • psycho ninja 4 - December 17, 2011 11:52 p.m.

    For some reason a lot of people i know hate minecraft. never found out why though. sham my computers to crap to run it.
  • Pwnz0r3d - December 16, 2011 10:34 a.m.

    The hilarious thing is that I can only play Minecraft on medium/low settings on a pc that can handle TF2 on high on a 100% crits server with no problems. On Minecraft, it chugs a LOT, especially at night, during a rain shower, and the Nether. Its even hard to play in sandbox mode because flying makes this thing go soooo slowwww.
  • jackthemenace - December 16, 2011 9:20 a.m.

    So, is the console version as expansive as this? And if it's NOT, is it available on Mac?
  • Person5 - December 16, 2011 4:54 p.m.

    the console version isn't nearly as expansive as the pc version (though this is the game you MUST play on a computer) there isn't a download client for mac OS that I've seen but you should still be able to play it in the browser until one is made
  • lazer59882 - December 15, 2011 8:36 p.m.

    i don't get this game. its literally just a sandbox for you to build your own game. how this could get a 9 is beyond me, but then again i shouldn't expect any better from the same media that thought little big planet was some kind of gaming revolution, when all it was was tools to build your own game.
  • huntreilly25 - December 15, 2011 9:18 p.m.

    have you tried the game? I would respect your dislike for the game if you had actually played it and were able to give concrete reasons for your dislike rather than just "not getting it". I understand that not everyone is going to like the game, but don't judge something before you give it a try.
  • gamebrain8505 - December 15, 2011 11:08 p.m.

    Well, actually it's not about making your own game like LBP, there is a story, there are many things wich you can not control, there are monsters, dungeons and such things to stimulate you. So, rest asured, this is not the "infinite resource, infinite possibility" thing, unless you specificly want it to be that.
  • talleyXIV - December 15, 2011 8:35 p.m.

    I literally play Team Fortress 2 with no frame rate lag whatsoever however the recent Minecraft keeps crashing. That's why this game deserves a 7. If he would've stopped the updates at 1.7, it would be an amazing game. The enchantment tables and the end, are two of the worst things about this game.
  • Cwf2008 - December 15, 2011 5:49 p.m.

    I think I'd enjoy it a lot more if the recent updates didn't make it lag like a bitch on my computer.
  • Net_Bastard - December 15, 2011 8:14 p.m.

    Optifine mod. I had the same problem until I downloaded that. Also you can allocate more RAM. reCAPTCHA: Igothe Original What original thing did I get?
  • BIOSback - December 15, 2011 4:09 p.m.

    Minecraft=Skyward Sword?
  • Dmancapri - December 15, 2011 2:06 p.m.

    SO ITS BETTER THAN HALO REACH?@?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?! :) Just kidding, spent more hours in minecraft than any other game
  • kor2disturbed - December 15, 2011 1:41 p.m.

    I own this on the PC and I love it, but I am really just waiting for the console release next year. I'll probably get more enjoyment out of the console version plus I'm going to assume that connecting to multiplayer world are going to be a bit easier. The only thing I'm not sure about is how much will it cost? Is it still gonna cost $25, Or will it be around $15? If so I'm worried that they might take some of the features out. ReCaptcha: adsgettingOld All one word, I'm not kidding.

Showing 1-20 of 46 comments

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