Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition – Review

Platform | Release Date
360 | May 9, 2012
Developed by Mojang, 4J Studios
Published by Microsoft Studios

The Pitch:

Imagine it, build it! Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition lets you create worlds from the comfort of your sofa. Play alone or play with your friends. Explore, build and conquer! At night monsters come out, so make sure to build a shelter before that happens. After that, your world is your imagination. Turn your hours into minutes with Minecraft!

At this point, it’s really hard to have not heard of Minecraft. Even if you’re strictly a console gamer Minecraft and its eccentric creator’s story is that of legend. Until now though, it has remained a PC only affair. Not content to sit by and ignore an opportunity, several pretenders have made their way onto Xbox Live Indie Games. The most popular being FortressCraft which to date has reached over 750,000 downloads so the demand is obviously there for this type of title. Now the real game is out for your Xbox console. Creepers! Pigs! Chunky butts! All at your disposal.

My affair with the PC version lasted quite a while but ended long before Minecraft hit version 1. Unlike what seemed to be everyone else, I focused on survival mode and rarely entered any online servers. My fascination was with exploration and the quiet solitude it provides, so perhaps the lack of a ‘creative’ mode in the Xbox 360 version doesn’t bother me. You’re still able to connect to your friends’ worlds and cooperatively work on shaping it, but you’ll deal with spiders, skeletons, and creepers in varying difficulties.

Man, those creepers…

Minecraft loves to mess with you. You’ll spend uneventful, in-game days crafting and working your way into the depths of a mountain, then one day on your way back to your storage hold you hear that awful hiss. Out of the perfectly crafted, blocky windows, a green head bobs up and down. It’s too late. The creeper explodes, ruins part of your fortress, and brings you to the brink of death.

The ever-present random world generation means that, no matter which direction you walk, you will find something interesting. The other night while looking for a place to begin, I came across a lush valley, containing a giant tree and basin of water. Towards the back side of this area was the beginnings of a mine, mineral rich stone, and protection from creatures. I dug in and took a screenshot after establishing myself.

After creating the humble beginnings of my fortress, I decided it was time for a bit of exploration and set off into my mostly uncovered world. Of course I discovered a cooler location for my home, but I also accidentally fell into an exposed mineshaft. It was likely the work of some long-dead adventurer as at the bottom, a vast, dark expanse lay before me. Close to death, I lit a few torches to see just how far it went.

Suddenly, an arrow stuck into the ground beside me, and another pierced my leg. I reeled, coming face-to-face with what seemed like an army of skeleton archers. Making it back to the bottom of the original shaft, I blocked off their progression and began a quick ascent. With the slightest breeze able to kill me, I hightailed it back to the safety of my fortress.

But I had left the front door open. Another archer was laying in wait and took me out before I knew what had happened.

I think that’s really the biggest achievement of Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition. The fact that those emergent moments of discovery – and panic – are still existent without having been compromised. Screenshots require linking your Xbox account to Facebook, but at least 4J has made it happen. Things have been updated to address console specific trappings, but you can still have incredibly entertaining and evolving experiences.

Take for example the way crafting is now handled. Instead of hitting a wiki to find out how to bake a pie, the game provides all the recipes and tells what ingredients you need. If you’ve got the materials, you’re a button press away from creating that item. Every item and creature has a tooltip explanation when you come across them which will help explain what the hell you use flint for, or what good wool is. You even get a map from the start!

The hardcore may look at these minor concessions as a “dumbing down” for the console crowd, but it honestly assists with accessibility. That’s a good thing in terms of helping define direction for a new player, or as a reminder for someone like me who hasn’t played in a long time. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is a wonderfully crafted title full of the experimentation, adventure, and creation of its big brother.

* All screenshots were taken in-game

About Jim Hunter

Jim Hunter is Editor-in-Chief of Splitkick and host of the Rocket Jump podcast. He has three kids and is constantly cranky, but also highly awesome.
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