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.
- Open-ended sandbox world and gameplay
- Building original creations and mechanisms
- Humor and wit
- Getting lost
- Dying and not being able to find the stuff you dropped
- Exploding creepers taking out part of your house