by Chris Priestman, reviewed on
The act of digging is a hearty, working man's chore. It is the root of discovery that ignited the resourceful nature of the human race. This primal act lies in the very foundation of Minecraft, a game that was itself dug up from the indie soils and thrust upwards at the sun. Minecraft has earned a legacy through subverting the rules to success, proving that it is possible to sell millions of copies without the need for an overwhelming ad campaign. Success does not naturally cave into quality though, so is this gaming phenomenon's 1.0 version everything it should be?
It's How You Got There
For most of its lifetime, Minecraft has been a blank canvas for players to create whatever they want. It's randomly generated 1x1 block worlds can be considered the ultimate gaming sandboxes. If you like, you can construct a huge castle, build a ship or dig a hideout. The choice is quite literally yours. With this, there are no set rules to the 'game' unless you wish to make up your own, or a server requires them to be adhered to. The main draw of Minecraft is undoubtedly its deep crafting system, and completely malleable world. It is strange that Minecraft is the first game to offer such liberty, but it is exactly for this reason that it has rightfully struck a chord with people. No other game sees players literally following the steps of man's evolution in Darwin's famous chart, from cave dweller to ruler of a kingdom.
With the release of the 1.0 version, the most notable addition is a proper endgame, an actual goal for players to work to. Of course this is merely an option for those who choose to aim for it, and the courageous will be rewarded (although punished is more true) in their pursuit of the end by meeting a unique and very challenging enemy; a dragon. The quest to completion requires the collection of rare ingredients in order to construct a portal to the Nether world. It is a thrilling journey full of surprise and threat. Yet, once completed it does not really have any real meaning or value other than bragging rights amongst peers. Undoubtedly, Minecraft is all about the journey and not the destination.
If You Build It, They Will Come
Learning the ins and outs of the extensive crafting system is more serving to you need than collecting experience points. In Survival Mode, the rush to create a shelter overnight with torches is one that all players will be familiar with. As you spend so much inside the crafting screen, it is a good thing that these menus are so intuitive and easy to use, even if they do not come with a guide. The absence of direction and cohesion within Minecraft is actually its greatest strength though. Pitching that to a prospective investor would more than likely upturn their nose, but grant players freedom and the tools to do as they please and they respond outwardly. There is a criticism that needs to be made here however. You should be familiar with the old proverb, "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". Minecraft certainly provides the fish, but it fails to teach new players the ins-and-outs of its complex systems. That isn't necessarily a bad thing though, just a noticeable shift in gaming practices.
When you first enter your randomly generated world there is a daunting void for sure, but once you have become an active online participant the game suddenly opens up. Browsing webpages will turn up every tutorial and useful hint imaginable. In effect, the game is run by an online community, and while you can play the game without that interaction, things are a lot easier when time is invested in making inquiries online.
Deep crafting system, huge and dedicated community, absolute freedom to build what you want.
Lack of in-game tutorial makes it difficult for new players.