Review by MithrilMonarch
"A Good Creativity Outlet, But A Terrible Adventure Game"
Minecraft is a strange case. First brought to the general public in 2009 and later released as a full game in 2011, this game appeals to different crowds for different reasons. There are endless ways to play Minecraft, which is part of the reason why the game has grown as successful as it has.
Minecraft is a good outlet for those who are creative. The sheer amount of things the player can build and create is only limited to their imagination. But, as an adventure title, Minecraft is terribly flat, much like the blocks that make up the world of the game.
Trying to describe the gameplay of Minecraft to the average person can be tough, and will often warrant mixed responses. Some people will describe it as a building game, where others will describe it as an adventure game, and many people might even describe it as a simulation game. With the endless ways of playing the game, all of these descriptions are correct.
As the player walks through a newly-created world in Minecraft, the world starts to generate and grow. All sorts of terrains exist that are reminiscent of the ones found on Earth, such as plains, caves, and oceans. These terrains can vary based on the different biomes that the player can find, such as deserts and jungles. Players can obtain various resources and build things using their resources. Resources can also be used to build tools that aid the player in gathering resources, such as weaponry, armor, pickaxes, and farming tools. The commercial release of Minecraft has two key modes.
The first mode is the creative mode. In this mode, players have an unlimited supply of resources, on top of having god-like powers such as flying. The general idea of this mode is for the player to build whatever they'd like out of textured blocks. With enough time and dedication, the player can create whatever they please.
Creative mode is a neat way to play the game. Want to build a giant sculpture of Mario out of wool? Go ahead! Want to re-create a picture pixel-for-pixel out of dirt and sand? Feel free! The creative mode of Minecraft is a good artistic outing, and has very calming and relaxing properties to it. At the end of a long, hard day of working in ninety degree weather, who doesn't want to sit down and get to building something neat?
The second mode of Minecraft is a survival mode. In this mode, players must build tools, obtain resources, and keep their health and hunger from depleting. Depending on the difficulty selected, the player may run into skeletons, zombies, and other monsters which the player must fight off if they want any chance of surviving.
In addition to the basic survival mode, there is also a hardcore mode of the game. Hardcore mode plays similarly to the survival mode of the game, except that the difficulty is set to the highest, and the player no longer respawns if they die, forcing them to delete the world they created.
Survival mode is where Minecraft falls flat for many different reasons. There's no sense of adventure to the survival mode of Minecraft. The player can travel for a long time and look at the various terrains and biomes of the game, which feels adventurous, at first. But after a while, every area looks the same and feels the same.
While playing The Legend of Zelda, another series of adventure games, players will experience vast, open worlds that are vibrant, highly-detailed, and colorful. But in Minecraft, every area lacks in detail. No matter what direction you face, you'll see the same stupid textured blocks everywhere. It gets old quickly.
Gathering resources in Minecraft is by far one of the most boring things you'll ever do in a video game. If you want to build some kind of structure, you're going to need to gather resources. Without assistance, gathering resources is slow as molasses and about as fun as pulling your teeth out. But, fortunately for you, you can create some tools to help speed the process up a bit. However, creating efficient versions these tools requires the most obscure resources ever. So, after trekking blind miles to obtain these resources by sheer luck, you build your tools. Have fun using them for about five minutes before they break though, forcing you to have to trek miles again to build more tools.
The last big flaw with Minecraft is the combat system. It's absolutely clunky and archaic. You equip a weapon and you swing it at skeletons and zombies who are pestering you. However, everything takes like forty hits to kill, and they fall back when you hit them, which makes you lose your momentum. The player also flies back when hit, which can lead to some cheap deaths if a cliff is conveniently placed nearby. In addition to this, the accuracy of these weapons is abysmally bad. Unless you are dead center to the enemy, expect to miss your swing and take some damage from a counterattack.
While the combat isn't the worst thing ever, compared to most video games out there, it's horribly outdated. When's the last time you had to fling your inaccurate, wimpy sword all about to save yourself from a zombie ambush? I feel like I'm playing one of those terrible adventure games from the 1990s when I fight anything in this game.
Overall, survival mode is not the way to play the game. It's boring, tedious, and flat. If you decide to play Minecraft, be sure to stick to the creative mode of the game.
But, that's not all there is to do in Minecraft. In addition to the two core gameplay modes, there's also multiplayer. By connecting to various servers created by other players, you can collaborate (or battle) against them. Multiplayer can be a lot of fun to play. However, the appeal isn't very long lasting, and will die down after a few days. There's also all sorts of modifications you can do to the game to enhance the gameplay even further.
There truly are endless ways to play Minecraft. Some of them, notably the survival mode, are absolutely boring, while other ways to play the game can garner some entertainment value. It all depends on personal preference. So, if you decide to get this game for yourself, definitely experiment and find which way you like to play the game.
The game defaults to a keyboard and mouse setup, using WASD to move the player and the mouse to control the direction the player is facing. I'm not much of a PC gamer, and this was my first experience using keyboard and mouse controls. But, overall, the game controls great using the default control scheme. Of course, players may always adjust the controls as they see fit.
To those using laptop computers, I would highly recommend buying an external keyboard and mouse for playing this game. The mousepads that are frequently built into laptop computers are very tough to use for this game, and even the types of keyboards that are built into these computers can be a burden to use. It doesn't cost too much money for a wired keyboard and mouse, and the investment will be worth it in the long run.
Minecraft has a unique graphical style. The graphics look very simplistic and blocky. While it certainly isn't a very attractive-looking game, the graphics don't hurt the gameplay, so they are acceptable.
Like most PC games, the player is allowed to adjust the resolution and aspect ratio of the game as they please. The player is also allowed to choose to play in fullscreen or windowed mode, which is based on personal preference. The game is somewhat computer intensive, and having minimal lag is recommended for having a better gameplay experience, so playing the game with low graphics settings is recommended. With how unattractive the game looks anyway, you won't be missing much.
The soundtrack in Minecraft is very soothing and relaxing. However, the music really doesn't do much for me. While a lot of games are enhanced greatly by the background music, I can take it or leave it here.
The sound effects of the game are decent. Nothing feels particularly out of place. However, you will be hearing the sound effects a lot if you're gathering resources. Having to listen to the same sound effect countless times does get on my nerves occasionally.
The play time of Minecraft is strictly based on the player's interest. If you're heavily into the game, you can play for hours on end each day. But, if the game doesn't do much to interest you, you might not be playing it for too long. The game has no definite goal, so trying to define a play time is not possible.
The replayability of Minecraft is very high. With the endless amounts of way to play the game, I wouldn't be surprised if someone took trips through ten, twenty, or even thirty different types of worlds.
Overall, Minecraft is an okay game. While the creative mode is pretty fun to play, the survival mode is a terrible excuse for an adventure game. Multiplayer gameplay is very fun as well, allowing you to bond with the people you play with.
To anybody with a sense of creativity, I would recommend giving the creative mode of Minecraft a shot. I can also recommend this game to young children and adolescents as well. However, for hardcore video game players looking for an adventure game, I cannot recommend this game at all. There's absolutely nothing worth writing home about in the survival mode in this game.
Final Score: 63/100
Rounded To: 6/10
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/28/14, Updated 01/30/14
Game Release: Minecraft (US, 11/18/11)
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