by Gregory Squires
reviewed on X360
As the sun sets you feel your heart start to pound in your chest. Drops of sweat crawl down your face as you scramble to get just one more piece of wood, before you run as fast as you can to your petty fortress made of mud and cobblestone. You make your way inside and pile up some dirt to seal the entrance. Tonight, you can take no chances. As you feel your way around the pitch black room, you bump into your crafting bench. Perfect. You build a bed out of wool and the wood you collected earlier. Moving your bed to the corner, you lie down and try to sleep until morning, knowing that you might not make it till then. In the middle of the night you are awakened by a startling noise. As you look into the black abyss surrounding you, only to see a pair of glowing red eyes.
“Thisssss isss a niccce houssse you have here,” it hisses. “Be a sssshame if ssssomething were to happen to it.”
At that remark, you hear a hiss and then a final boom.
Welcome to back to Minecraft, folks.
Back to Basics
The thing that stood out to me the most when I first picked up Minecraft: Xbox 360, was that the port is unfortunately not the most current version of Minecraft. It is closer to Beta 1.6.6 of the PC version. This means current generation players will have to scale back their knowledge of Minecraft a few iterations to feel comfortable. Certain crafting elements such as alchemy are missing, along with some mobs and creation options. As major as this may sound, it really isn’t that big of a deal. Playing Minecraft Alpha is fun, even though a lot of features are missing.
To make up for the devolution, there are great and convenient tutorial options for new players. Not only is there a tutorial specific game mode, but when starting a new world tips will pop up, allowing newbies to quickly and easily adjust to the new style.
The most notable addition is the new and improved crafting system. It has been streamlined to enable quick browsing through and building items, so that you can spend less time in menus and get back to your adventure. While having the item possibilities laid out in front of you can be useful, being an ‘old-school’ Minecraft player, I had a lot of fun memorizing item combinations and am sad to see that system was left out. But, all personal feelings aside, 4J Studios were able to build a great system that, while not as adaptable as a mouse and keyboard, works with the 360 controller.
Less Than Meets The Eye
To be honest, there’s nothing wrong with Minecraft: Xbox 360. The only real ‘problem’ is something that plagues both the Xbox 360 and PC version: it gets boring.
When people first sit down and play Minecraft, it’s fun. There is a variety of things to do, and small things like finding diamonds or seeing lava for the first time are exhilarating. Unfortunately, there comes a day when you do everything that the game has to offer. Fans will agree that Minecraft can get boring and repetitive. There’s only so much you can do with so little. And while updates will bring the Xbox 360 version closer to its PC counterpart, the PC version will also be updated, likely with greater frequency; the Xbox 360 version will unfortunately always be one step behind.
Another small, albeit annoying problem is that the maps are quite tiny. While the PC version’s maps are sprawling terrains with different environments and biomes, the Xbox 360 version only has 4 of the main biomes and small maps, which can easily be traversed in 5 minutes. This takes away from the freedom one experiences while playing.
The More, the Merrier
Minecraft: Xbox 360’s saving grace is the amazingly simple (that’s a good thing) Co-Op system. The drop-in drop-out system is fantastic for split screen Co-Op. Not only because playing with friends is a blast, but because I can sit down with my friends, play for five minutes, then leave. Compared to other split screen games where you have to set it up in the menu beforehand, which is often unguided and difficult to figure out, this is a great suit.
I am also completely satisfied with the online component. I love being able to set my game to ‘Online’ and watch my Live friends come and go, helping me mine. (And occasionally burning my house down.) Because playing with friends is always more fun than playing alone, if you plan on playing Minecraft with your buddies, I recommend getting the Xbox 360 version so that all of you technology illiterates don’t have to go through the messy process of setting up a server to play with your friends. Also, not everyone’s computer can handle Minecraft.
It’s Party Time
Thanks to 4J Studios and Mojang, we now have a great port of a stellar game on our Xbox’s. Even though it may not be the current iteration that we see on PC’s, the game features easily accessible controls and an in-depth tutorial system for teaching beginners how to become fluent with the games mechanics, making it an exceptional title.
Crafting system is ingenious, multiplayer is great, drop-in-out mechanics are simple and effective and the tutorial helps new players learn quicker.
Maps are relatively small.