Getting Your Build On – Minecraft For Xbox 360 Review

Our Rating
out of 5.0

This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.

If you’ve had any connection to the internet in the past year then you’ve heard of the gaming sensation Minecraft.  Now, you can give it a shot on your Xbox 360!  How does this port stack up to the original PC version?  Let’s find out!

For those who have yet to try out Minecraft, it’s a complex, yet simple game.  Players are presented with a randomly generated “block” world and are given free rein to mine, build, or destroy anything they see fit.  At first you must start out small, punching trees to “chop” wood, then using it to craft your first set of tools.  From here, the world is literally yours to sculpt; be it mining for minerals, building a village, or designing a full scale replica of Optimus Prime.  Certain blocks will only yield materials to certain tools though, so a lot of planning is required.  Anything and everything can be made, should you have the time and focus to craft it out of perfect cubes.   If you don’t, the game will become very boring, very quickly, so go in with a plan!

One has to be careful however, as many sinister creatures come out to hunt at night.  Skeletons, zombies (go figure!), spiders, and creepers (an enemy who explodes when in close proximity of a player) will all chase you down and try to kill you.  To avoid a sudden and violent death, players have three options: craft weapons and armor to battle these evils, use clever building techniques to trap/destroy them, or build a shelter and sleep out the night in a bed.  You have to make sure that your structure is well lit and completely enclosed, or you’ll be attacked in your sleep!

For those with multiplayer in mind, the Xbox port supports up to eight players on one map, and four players split-screen on one console.  This means you and your buddies can always build that golden statue of Futurama’s Bender that you’ve always wanted to.  Playing with friends can help you reach goals much faster and is a considerable amount of fun.

There are some key differences between the PC and Xbox versions though.  The Xbox version is an earlier version than the PC’s current 1.2.5 build, so it’s missing features like sprinting and pistons for building.  Updates are planned to eventually catch up to the PC build, but for now players familiar with both versions will feel the Xbox one is fairly behind.

Another technical constraint causes a big difference between versions.  For the PC version, the world players explore is virtually infinite and is limited only by how high or low one can build.  Locations can stretch out without limits and are generated in “chunks”, with only the nearest locations being loaded.  For Xbox however, the world is limited to a 1024 by 1024 block area.  This may upset some PC players, but the world is big enough for players to mess around in with no space issues.

On the other hand, some bugs can be found.  Doors can occasionally glitch out with the top opening while the bottom closes, like a Dutch door.  This makes the door impossible to close completely, allowing any creature with a bow to pop arrows at you while you try to sleep.  Some blocks will also either reappear briefly after they’ve been destroyed, or disappear after they’ve been placed.  While not necessarily game-breaking stuff, they can be quite frustrating when working with limited supplies and night closing in fast.

Another issue some gamers may find is the price.  With the arcade title listed for 1600 Microsoft Points, worth isn’t as much an issue as the actual number is.  For players in the States, that’s a single $20 MSP card, but Canadians (who’s lowest card is 1400) will need to buy the $40 card to be able to afford it.  Sure, 2000 points can be bought with a credit card, but what about the gamer’s without plastic?  While simply a victim of exchange rates, players worldwide will find it severely unfair that they’ll have to over pay for a single Arcade title.

In terms of visuals, Minecraft is a throwback to old-school games.  The original title was built using as little pixels as possible, presumably to save on processing power.   For the Xbox version, things are a little deceptive as it’s built using several HD quality pixels, but is designed to appear like it uses considerably less.  This gives it that signature low-quality appearance in while still being graphically smooth and soft on the eyes, and allows the title to be free of texture-pop or other visual anomalies.

Something that should be noted is a dynamic weather system.  Players underground may come back to the surface to find that the weather has changed.  Arctic regions may see snow, or rainfall in tropical areas.  While it’s few and far between, it’s a very impressive feature that truly adds to gameplay.

On the audio side we have good things all around.  Minecraft’s soundtrack is very well composed, creating beautiful and relaxing piano and string arrangements.  While gorgeous to listen to, they’re also fairly unmemorable and players will tend to forget their even there.  Streaming music from your MP3 player or PC will quickly veto in-game music, which actually works out perfectly for the title.

Sounds are also handled just as well, giving a surprizing sense of realism.  A player’s steps will actually mimic the material they’re standing on, with stones and ores sounding dry or hard, and dirt sounding crunchy or soft.  The same difference in effects carried over to digging and mining, with various differences dependent upon what you’re mining and what you’re doing it with.  Each creature, be it friendly or evil, also has its own sounds which can let you know what’s behind the next wall.  Overall it’s impressive given its simple appearance, and there are no complaints here.

Whether you’re a returning fan looking for some extra play, or a console gamer looking to get in on the craze, Minecraft is an impressive title that will keep gamers busy for hours on end… as long as you have the drive and imagination to create.   With a large randomly generated world to mess with, great visuals/audio, and possibilities limited only by your imagination, this is one title that you’re sure to lose yourself in.

Final Score:  4.25 / 5.0 and a shiny diamond pickaxe.

Our Rating
out of 5.0

About This Post

May 16, 2012 - 8:15 am