Review by Matty_G33

"Rather dependent on addiction."

During one half of 2010, I noticed a game known as Minecraft, popping up everywhere on the internet. To see what all the fuss is about, I checked it out, and what are the results? Read on.

Note that at the time I'm writing this, the game is in it's Beta state.

Controls - 9/10

Moving around in Minecraft is very similar to that of FPS games on the PC. WSAD is responsible for movement while the mouse covers looking around, and Shift is used to walk slower. The default bindings for the basic controls can be changed to your liking, which is great considering some of the default ones are a bit hard to get used to (like I for inventory).

Gameplay - 8/10

Upon starting a new game, the player spawns in a randomly generated map (which will keep on growing as the player explores) with nothing in his inventory. There is no real goal in Minecraft, so the player can do what he wants to do. These maps are made up of different blocks, which can be punched to get placed into the player's inventory for later usage. Any blocks in the inventory can be placed again on the map, so the player can build houses and other structures that might provide to be useful, or things essentially decorative - Eiffel Tower anyone?

The materials in the game intend to mimic their real life counterparts to a limited extent, so a player can't punch through stone blocks quickly. So that's where the 'craft' in 'Minecraft' comes into effect. The player can punch the wood to make sticks and planks to simply make a pick axe to mine out said stone blocks. Crafting is basic, most of the time all what the player needs to do is make the basic shape of something in a 2x2 or 3x3 grid with the right materials. This not only makes tools that make the player's life easier, but can also form new blocks that may be useful for construction.

Speaking of mining stone earlier, that's another important aspect of the game - players are able to explore naturally (or man-made) cave networks in order to search for precious materials - coal, iron, gold, even diamonds and obsidian. Gathering these can benefit the player by allowing them to craft better tools and nicer novelties.

Building and mining aren't the only things you'll be doing in the game. There are also mobs to be aware of. There are some basic farmyard animals that appear randomly during day time, such as cows. Killing/hitting mobs can yield item drops as well, for example pigs can drop porkchops to restore health and sheep can be hit to gather wool. But at night, aggressive mobs spawn, who are bent on killing you - zombies, skeletons with bows, and oversized spiders can prove to be annoying. The one that takes the cake though, is the Creeper. If this suicidal mob gets too close, it will detonate and explode. Furthermore, while zombies and skeletons die in sunlight and spiders stop being aggressive, Creepers can still go after you, ambushing and destroying your work.

Getting killed, whenever from a mob, lava, or a high fall, is annoying itself since you'll drop all of your items and will respawn back to where you once started (although the world remains the same). Aggressive mobs can be disabled by changing the difficulty to Peaceful, but you'll miss out on useful resources and it takes some of the challenge away from the game. So while the game is about what you want to do, surviving is another important aspect altogether.

Multiplayer - 7/10

Playing the game with others is ultimately the single player game with more people inside it, with the difficulty and such chosen by the server provider. That being said though, the experience can be different. Most of the time, multiplayer is more like a matter of building nice things than surviving. But it depends from server to server. Sometimes the players can have many more benefits over the vanilla game itself, such as warping to select locations, regenerating health and getting any materials they like on the go, while some can be as close to the real thing itself.

Multiplayer does run into a few issues. To begin with, sometimes people intentionally try to destroy other players' structures and houses. As a result most servers are essentially private and whitelisted to avoid running into this problem. The other issue is connecting to a server itself - you actually have to put in the IP address of the server you want to connect to. Since the game is still in Beta, this could change, but still annoying nothingness.

Audio - 7/10

Audio is nothing amazing in Minecraft. The sounds are real enough, but are basic. Sometimes music randomly plays through the game, namely piano-based pieces, which somewhat suits the theme of the game. There's not much to say about this department.

Graphics - 7/10

Everything is 16-bit and block-ish, from the player to the mobs and the hills to the lava flowing in the caves. There is also a brilliant sense of lighting in the game as well - if you're deep in a cave with no torches, everything will be almost pitch black and you'll be blind as a mole - put one up on the wall and it'll only light up a little bit of the area. At night it's not too easy to find your way around, but not difficult either.

The game's graphics are usually referred to as bad from those who haven't played it, but for block building games where everything looks basic, it's not like anything else would be better. As you keep playing, you'll get used to the graphics style of Minecraft rather quickly.

Optimization - 4/10

Minecraft is coded in Javascript. No seriously, it is. Optimization in this game is rather poor at the moment - random crashes happen often, the game uses up a lot of system memory, the list goes on. Considering the game is yes, in Beta, it'll be bound to be better later on. Should you play this, be prepared to see the game crash. A lot.

As for system requirements, there really isn't any listed around, but I'll have to say that it would definitely help to have a lot of RAM.

Content Updates - 8/10

Another thing going for Minecraft are the regular updates. Every now and then, the man who created the game will add in content and bug fixes. If something goes wrong in a later patch, a fix to it is usually provided within a few days. All sorts of new content has been given out from these updates, and community suggestions have sometimes been implemented in patches.

Replay Value - 10/10

The game's very high point is it's addiction value. As you build your small fortress, you might think about adding on a tower to it. Then a dock. Then make it twice as bigger. And then add a pool of glass-encased lava for a source of light. And it goes on. There is no end to Minecraft because not only you can do anything, but because there is no end to your imagination.

Final Score - 7/10

The game has a lot going for it. However, I rate it a 7 since optimization is rather bad. If you want a game that's a bit rather permanent, then look no further - Minecraft will be worth your €15.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 02/01/11

Game Release: Minecraft (Classic) (US, 05/10/09)

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