Minecraft was somewhat of a revelation last year- an indie game that became a sensation even before it had ever released, a game with so enduring a concept that it took millions upon millions by storm and became a household name overnight, elevating its creator to celebrity status in the process. And while the game’s merits and demerits have been heavily scrutinized ever since – especially in light of the game’s official release, when people had to pay for it to play it.
Nevertheless, the game’s incredible value, especially as a sandbox tool, remains, and there is something to be said about just how much fun one can have and how many hours one can sink into the game’s limitless and boundless estates. Indeed, in Minecraft, you are limited only by your imagination, and that is one thing that has led to its popularity.
The Xbox 360 version, announced last year at E3, retains much of what made the game so good in the first place, although in the transition to consoles, it loses quite a bit. Some of this, like the much more limited map space, are things that not many will notice, at least not at first, although they may get more evident over time. Others, such as the lack of real time updating on the Xbox 360 version (owing to Microsoft’s restrictive Xbox Live policies) and baffling omissions such as the lack of sprinting will probably become major irritations over time.
There’s quite a lot that this version does right, however – from retaining most of the basics of the PC version that made it so compelling in the first place, to the new, Xbox 360 controller optimized control scheme, a new tutorials system that basically warms you in to the game’s intricacies without any of the major fumbling that characterized newcomers’ first time with the PC version of Minecraft, and the new mining system, which clearly was made with consoles in mind, but is in fact so good that it would do well to be adapted in the PC edition as well, are all things that the Xbox 360 edition does great.
It looks great, too. Minecraft had a distinctively blocky, old time look on the PC, that was nevertheless quite the head turner. The Xbox 360 edition retains the signature look of the PC game, although as stated above, it does feature a few cutbacks to world sizes. Most of this isn’t apparent immediately as far as the visuals are concerned, though, since the cutbacks are utilized more via invisible walls, than by physically smaller worlds.
There is one area where the Xbox version of Minecraft performs undoubtedly better than the PC version, and that is in its multiplayer options. Although co-op games on the PC version are all well and good, and are basically twice as fun as a solo run, owing to the full and unrestrained nature of the game, but now with double the players, setting such games up has always been a bit of a hassle on the PC, requiring software patches, version checks, and more, on both sides. On the Xbox 360, thanks to Xbox Live, online co-op is literally a breeze, and you’ll be crafting with buddies online in no time. And if playing online isn’t your thing, the 360 version one ups its PC progenitor entirely by offering local split screen co-op as well.
However, for all that Minecraft on the Xbox 360 does well, there is more that it does wrong. The biggest problem is, and the one that will be immediately apparent to players migrating from the PC version, is that the game, based on a much older build, is highly limited, lacking many mechanics that are now staples- such as the alchemy system, the hunger system, no experience, and a lot of tools missing. It’s quite a shame, especially since Minecraft seems to feel so uncompromised otherwise.
The most glaring omission, however, will be the total lack of the sandbox, the ‘Creative Mode,’ which, to many, was their first introduction to Minecraft. The survival mode is the only mode available to 360 players, and this is probably where the game clearly exhibits the technical shortcomings of being on a console, and how those have affected it.
Minecraft on the Xbox 360 is a well done game, and is as good a port as it could have been, considering the more limited resources the developers had to work with. All in all, it is a great job, especially considering how badly it could have gone. However, and especially to someone who is already intimately familiar with the PC version, the Xbox 360 version can also come as a bit of a disappointment, with some shocking cutbacks. If you have never played Minecraft, however, and aren’t really into PC gaming, then by all means, go ahead and get this version, since it’s the best form of this game you will be able to experience. However, if you have a decently specced PC at all, and can remotely convince yourself to get the PC edition instead, do that. It’s more arcane, more obtuse, less familiar and just more overwhelming, but somehow, all of that adds to its charm and to its atmosphere in a way that just cannot be quantified.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Classic PC game now available on Xbox 360. Good multiplayer options. Lots of content.
It's more arcane, more obtuse, less familiar and just more overwhelming, but somehow, all of that adds to its charm and to its atmosphere in a way that just cannot be quantified.