Review by horror_spooky
Do the creep
On PCs, Minecraft became a sensation. The game took the gaming world by storm, and Microsoft was smart to snag the console exclusivity rights to bolster its E3 2011 presentation, and to add even more fuel to the Xbox Live Arcade fire. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition has finally released, and like the PC version, it is being updated every so often to add new items and features, meaning that while certain aspects of this review may become outdated, don't worry -- at its core, Minecraft is Minecraft and Minecraft is awesome, no matter what system it's being played on.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition lacks all of the bells and whistles that can be found in the PC version nowadays, but the game will eventually catch up. In the meantime, Minecraft on the Xbox 360 plays like a more refined version of the Minecraft we all know and love. Players begin by starting a new world, and then are tasked with making shelter to survive the night and avoid the monsters that are associated with that time of the day. Exploration and building are two key gameplay elements, but one can play Minecraft any way that they'd like, and that's the beauty of it. A lot of games become preoccupied with stories and character and forget the most important part of any game is the gameplay. Minecraft is purely a video game through and through.
With any PC to console port, the main concern is whether or not the controls will translate well to a video game controller. Suffice to say, Minecraft plays wonderfully on the Xbox 360. The controls may be a bit complicated at first, but they are easy to learn and get used to. Speaking of easy, Minecraft is more refined, making the experience of playing the game less about guessing and more about gathering supplies, exploring, and doing what you want to do. What I mean by that is at crafting tables, it shows what can be created, and what is needed to create those items, instead of just making players guess or memorize patterns of materials to create items. Perhaps this makes the game lose a part of its sense of discovery. But at the same time, it makes the game much easier and welcoming, resulting in a gameplay experience that is simply superior to the PC version.
The most important aspect of playing this game on the Xbox 360, and the reason why I like it more than the PC version, is the multiplayer options. On a single console, those with HDTVs (anyone with standard definition television sets are left out, which is hugely unfortunate and the game's biggest flaw) can enjoy four-player split-screen Minecraft in all of its glory. That game can also be taken online for a total of eight players in a single Minecraft world. Between the online and offline, the multiplayer in Minecraft is well-rounded, and it's what I expect from every game with multiplayer. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition features multiplayer that is awesome both online and off, making it one of the best multiplayer experiences not only just on the Xbox 360, but this entire generation.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition retains the signature look of the main game. It's not trying to be pretty, but it does have a very charming and distinct art style. I can't really imagine Minecraft looking any different. Familiar music joins the familiar visuals, as well as all the sound effects one expects in Minecraft. Crunching dirt blocks sounds just as cool as it always has, and the hiss of a nearby Creeper still strikes fear into my heart. Minecraft originated as an indie game, but now it has a presentation that makes it stand out, even from the big budget titles.
I have put a ton of hours into this version of Minecraft since it released on XBLA, and I purchased it that very day. I've played across multiple worlds, and I've had numerous adventures with my friends. We've climbed mountains, we've swam through oceans, and we've built homes. I can even forgive Minecraft's over-priced $20 nature since that is the cost of the PC version, and the game is still being updated with new features and items for absolutely free. Multiplayer only makes the game more replayable, and the achievements are a lot of fun to go after and unlock.
Minecraft is a phenomenon, and those that don't like to game on PC finally have the opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is superior to the PC version in numerous ways, and once the updates finally bring it up to par with that version in terms of content, Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition will simply be the best way to play Minecraft.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition (US, 05/09/12)
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