[gameinfo title="Game Info" game_name="Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition" developers="4J Studios / Mojang" publishers="Microsoft Studios" platforms="Xbox 360" genres="Sandbox Creation Adventure" release_date="9th May 2012"]
We don’t often give perfect tens here at Gamer Nation. In fact, indie PC hit Minecraft has so far been the only exception. When Ben Nielsen reviewed the game last November, he praised the game’s exceptional gameplay, expansive worlds and overall addictive nature. I would argue he summed up the entire experience perfectly, when he claimed that…
…this is a game that is a triumph of users and creators collaborating to make something special, a game which inspires great things from even the most mediocre of us, a game that can genuinely be enjoyed by people from all ages (because you never truly grow out of Lego). If that game doesn’t deserve a 10, then frankly nothing does. Nothing.
So now that Minecraft has been released on the Xbox 360 in the form of Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition, does it stand tall next to its PC counterpart?
In some ways, yes. Yes it does.
For those who don’t already know, Minecraft is a creative sandbox game that was originally released on the PC a few years back. The player is dropped into a world made entirely out of blocks, and is given the simple task of surviving. Every block can be mined and then replaced somewhere else, and some blocks can be crafted to make different items such as tools and decorative objects. It’s completely addictive and I can safely assure you that it’s like nothing else you’ve ever played before.
You’ll therefore be thankful to know that when it comes to the Xbox 360 edition of the game, all of the core elements from the PC version remain practically untouched.
Although not as advanced as the PC version (the Xbox edition resembles the PC’s Beta release, meaning that more recent additions such as Endermen, enchantments and villages are sadly absent) Minecraft on the 360 still maintains that wonderful feeling of infinite possibility and childish wonder that captured the imaginations of so many on the PC.
You can still explore a randomly generated world, build to your heart’s content and fight the endless onslaught of monsters until the first light of dawn. It’s still just as much fun as it was during Beta on the PC, and although veteran players may feel like they’ve stepped back into the past, newcomers will be shocked at just how original a title Minecraft truly is.
There are also a number of new features that make the 360 Edition unique, such as an overhauled crafting system (no more fiddling with recipes, the game now tells you exactly how many resources you need in order to craft any item, before letting you make as many as you want with just a press of a button) as well as a full tutorial mode and a plethora of handy tooltips.
These new features are incredibly welcome, and make the game far more accessible for new players by arguably removing that difficult first hour of gameplay that veteran players were forced to endure. Effectively, 4J studios have built the Minecraft Wiki straight into the game, a feature that, in my opinion, Mojang themselves should consider implementing into the PC version.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition’s greatest strength however, lies in its four player split-screen mode. Split-screen Minecraft is perhaps the greatest thing ever invented by the human race, and since the games release on Wednesday, we here at Gamer Nation have sunk almost 20+ hours into this single mode. Players can drop in and drop out of any world by simply turning on a controller, and within seconds be on their way to building an empire or finding hidden treasures buried below the surface.
It’s a feature that’s often overlooked in modern games, but local multiplayer really does make the game shine. I can tell you now, that if you have a few spare controllers and a couple of mates, then downloading Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition could just be the best thing you do this year.
The game also includes Xbox Live play, and although the servers aren’t persistent like on the PC, playing with friends is still the best feature of the game.
That’s not to say that Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition isn’t without its flaws however, and the 360 version of the game unfortunately does have a lot of them.
The most prominent issue with the 360 version is the world size. Unlike in the PC version, in which the world is practically infinite in size, you’re limited to the size of a basic map. To put it into perspective, you can walk from one end of the world to the other in around three minutes before you hit an invisible wall.
This is incredibly disappointing, and in some ways makes the 360 version feel limited. The entire game world is surrounded by water, effectively restraining you to a single island instead of encouraging you to explore the endless world ahead of you. Although frustrating, I found this limitation to be more of a brutal reminder of just how old the 360 is, rather than a game ruining flaw.
Other issues include the lack of custom texture packs and skins, as well as frequent frame rate drops in multiplayer.
Obviously if you’re a veteran PC player, the lack of more recent additions such as enchanted items and tools will also seem limiting, but to first time players there’s more than enough content present for you to thoroughly enjoy yourself with.
All in all, whether you’re a veteran Minecraft player or a fresh faced newbie, Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is the game for you. New editions such as split-screen multiplayer, helpful tutorials and a revamped crafting system make the game feel unique, and improve the experience in ways I didn’t even think possible.
Even though the game’s limited scale in terms of world size, biomes, items and creatures may be a little too frustrating for some, I found my experience with Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition to be every bit as fresh and exciting as the first time I played the game on PC two years ago.
So go on, give Minecraft a go. You won’t regret it.