It’s safe to say that just about everyone with an internet connection knows about Minecraft. The game has taken the world by storm, proving that the indie market can be just as successful, and profitable, as any major blockbuster title. Minecraft brought the gaming world something new and unique, offering an extremely fun title that everyone experiences differently. Some people love the survival aspect, having to build shelter, gather food, and avoid being killed by the creatures of the night. Others relish in the ability to create monumental structures and one-to-one scale Death Stars. Luckily, the experience has finally made it’s way to Xbox Live, with some welcome additions, but ultimately suffers from some very unfortunate limitations.
At its core, Minecraft is all about exploration. The game is well-known for featuring huge, randomly-generated worlds filled with lakes, oceans, forests, and vast underground cave systems just waiting to be tapped into. While the Xbox 360 version continues this trend, it does so on a much smaller scale, and for those loving to fill their worlds with huge structures, it ends up being a problem. The worlds you create are no long infinite, and you are bound to run across “invisible walls” that prevent you from going any further out into the unknown, but luckily the worlds are still big enough to get lost in exploration, and have plenty of resources to gather.
Gathering these resources is exactly that same as in the PC version of the game, requiring the right tools to be efficient, and requiring constant upgrades to those tools to harvest better resources like iron and diamonds. However, creating these tools is now an entirely different process. Where creating new objects and tools was a matter of trial-and-error or checking the Minecraft wiki for crafting recipes, all recipes are now given to you right from the beginning. If you have all of the necessary materials to create the tool you want, it’s simply a matter of selecting the recipe and hitting the A button. While this is a great help to newcomers who may be overwhelmed by the number of possibilities, it takes away from the discovery aspect of the game, essentially boiling down to the game holding your hand through everything. The excitement that comes from accidentally discovering how to make trap doors or mine carts is gone, making the game feel less rewarding.
Minecraft has always been about playing with friends, and luckily for the Xbox, it’s now easier than ever. While the game features the traditional open-server multiplayer where players can explore and create in other people’s worlds, the best feature is the addition of split-screen multiplayer, which features up to four players at once. It’s an absolutely blast to be playing with a friend who’s sitting next to you on the couch, creating complex houses and deep mines. It makes for a great time, and it’s definitely easier to cooperate with someone sitting next to you than it is to over voice chat. The game also features a tutorial to help new players, and text boxes that provide a description of every new material or monster you come across, so if that player sitting next to you has never played, they’ll be able to ease into the game without any problems.
Overall, Minecraft is an excellent experience on the Xbox, but it just isn’t up to par with the PC version. For what it is, it succeeds very well, though hardcore Minecraft fans and long-time players may have a hard time adjusting to the new crafting system and the smaller worlds. With the absence of a creation mode, no hunger system, and lack of any sort of enchanting, the game feels much simpler, but not for the better. That being said, there is still fun to be had, especially with a few friends. Minecraft is available on Xbox Live for 1600 Microsoft points.