Review: Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition

by on May 9, 2012 >> ReviewsXbox

Back in 2010 a basically unheard of Swedish game designer made as a small indie PC game. The game was about randomly generated worlds, creating and destroying and having fun. Mining the world for resources in order to create your dream home had the feel of Legos on the PC, and almost any computer could run it. Eventually the game changed thanks to it’s audience being able to join the Beta for a low cost and soon the game became a giant hit with people playing in strictly a creative fashion, a survival fashion and with friends in giant worlds filled with monuments to the things they love including retro and internet memes. To call it one of the biggest and most important games in history is an understatement. So why do I feel like the Xbox 360 players are getting shafted? (no pun intended).

This is hard for me to say… I do not like Minecraft on the Xbox 360. It feels dated, sluggishly slow and unresponsive. When I say that the game feels dated I don’t mean that the game looks dated next to it’s contemporaries like this week’s big release Star Hawk or games like Halo. It’s style is intentionally throw back. What I mean when I say that the game feels dated is that it feels like Minecraft I was playing nearly a year ago, which has since evolved into a very different game with different objectives, goals and ideas. I’m usually not one to compare a PC title to a 360 title for a , but there’s no way I can avoid it here.

Minecraft drops you into a world that is randomly created and it’s up to you to collect resources, break down the environment and create the tools you need to survive. There is a day and night cycle in the game which means your first objective should be to create a shelter because once nightfall comes zombies, skeletons, and spiders come out to kill you. Zombies are slow lumbering oafs, spiders are faster and can climb trees and skeletons can fire arrows at you. You biggest defense is digging down to find the minerals you need to create new tools and armor that will allow you to defend yourself and fight off the enemies. There is also an element of exploration, finding caves, new forests and deserts and seeing what they might bring. These are the elements that make Minecraft great and yes they’re all here in the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Crafting items has never been as easy for beginners as it is on the Xbox 360. For the PC gamer you need to figure things out on your own through wikis, youtube videos and more in order to understand what it is you’re supposed to do. On 360 there’s a tutorial that gives you the basic ideas, shows you how to build a home, get wood, build a stove, create coal for torches and more. All the stuff you could ever want to know is right there for you to learn. creating the items themselves is easy with a simple guide that shows you what you can create and what missing items you need to get in order to create items you want. It uses the Xbox’s controller to the best of it’s ability, but for the rest of the game, the controller is the biggest problem.

Minecraft is built off a version of the Beta release of the game, which is lacking many of the features that day to day PC players will know and use from moment to moment. The run function is gone which made the game feel as though I was moving through molasses. I could never quite get to where I was going fast enough. This lack of speed carries through the entire game as the sensitivity on the controller is cranked incredibly low making it hard to respond to enemies when they are attacking. Changing the speed changes the pacing of the game completely and throws off the rhythm of it. simple things like placing blocks now take longer than it would with a keyboard and mouse set up and there’s no equivalent of a lock on or snap to feature. Creating my first shelter seemed to take forever and actually felt boring. I was never bored playing Minecraft before and here I was just thinking about how great it would be to turn the Xbox off and play it on PC.

Visually Minecraft on 360 also lacks fidelity at a distance. The the textures of blocks changes as you get closer to it, making it hard to judge distance at times as everything starts to messily blur together. The 720p resolution doesn’t exactly help either as the game looks so much worse at such a low resolution. The sound on the other hand is exactly what I would want from the game and it’s score is fantastic. There’s no denying that it’s simplistic approach is charming and not changing it was the right move to make.

Xbox 360 players are paying 1600 Microsoft Points for this game, a cost of $20, and yes the version on PC right now is $26.95 but it’s also packed with a lot more content and is far more refined. Minecraft on Xbox 360 feels like training wheels. It’s a way to get a start, understand the mechanics to the game and dip your toes in the water of ’s creative masterpiece… but it falls short of the original’s greatness. If you’ve never played the game before I’d recommend downloading the demo on Xbox, seeing if you like it and maybe then making the investment, but this is far from the MUST BUY title that I thought it was just a mere 24 hours ago.

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