Minecraft

Posted On: 5/8/2012  Publisher: Microsoft Studios

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Last year at E3 Microsoft unveiled the fact that Minecraft was coming to the Xbox 360. Now here we almost a year later and the game is debuting on XBLA and fans are ready everywhere for it. Minecraft is a popular PC game that may not look like much but can definitely suck up valuable hours of your life similar to games like Sim City, Diablo, and more. Itís addictive nature sucks you into the world and you always feel like you need to do a little more before turning the game off.

Graphically, some folks may look at Minecraft and scratch their head. Sure, itís a simplistic graphic design with lots of large pixels and blocks but thatís truly what makes Minecraft so great. Under the simplistic hood though is a complex and engaging game that has various levels of depth. The crafting alone has a depth that requires luck, skill and ingenuity at times. Youíll have to search high and low for the resources needed to survive and better your world and character.

 
 

The sound package is great. The musical soundtrack is soothing and tranquil and gives you a relaxed feeling as you traverse this simplistic world. Very similar to music you would have heard in the old school games. The animals and monsters make simple noises as well but are very distinguishable. A cow sounds like a cow, pig sounds like a pig, etc. I actually chuckled a bit with some of the sound effects in the game.

So what is Minecraft for those that may not have experienced the masterpiece game on the PC? First and foremost, if you are new to Minecraft I can tell you that the Xbox 360 version is the way to go for learning this game. Itís a sandbox style game that allows you to create a world of your own in the existing landscape. Only the sky is the limit in this game as you can dig forever into the ground , build massive structures that reach into the clouds or just go with the traditional castle and town building. Youíll have to create everything from scratch by cultivating the world around you whether its mining, cutting wood, or hunting. Youíll then have to build things from the raw materials you harvest which can include things like tools, weapons, food, building blocks and more. This game is so addictive I caution anyone that does not have the will power to turn a game like this off after a few hours.

There is a point to all of this mining, building and crafting that you will be doing. You are on a quest to find a realm called The End where you will face off against the Ender Dragon. Until this point though youíll have to level your character up with better equipment, weapons and more so that you have the ability to beat the dragon in the end. The dragon isnít the only monster you will come across though. Throughout your travels youíll run into skeletons, zombies, and more that are out to kill you. Mostly you encounter these monsters at night but there are some times when you will find them roaming during the daylight hours.

 
 

One thing you will want to keep in mind is that you do not want to get killed. Youíll see a row of hearts that represents your health meter. When this is depleted you have died and youíll respawn at the last bed you slept in. You can build armor to help increase your ability to stand up to the monsters. If you do die, make sure you go back to the area you died and pick up the items that you dropped. Your complete inventory you were holding will be laying on the ground there. I found it useful to stash items in chests that you will find around the world so that I wouldnít constantly lose things when I died. Yes, I died a lot because I thought I was a tough guy. The houses with doors and a bed are your safe houses from monsters so donít be afraid to use them. Sleep away the night and come back out in the morning.

So letís talk a little about what you do in this game. You start off with nothing. Youíll have to chop some wood to get your first resource and then build some wooden tools such as Axeís, Picks, Swords, and Shovels. You have to use each of these tools for their specific purpose. For instance, use the axe to chop down trees and not dig a hole. Each tool has a certain number of uses before it breaks and using a tool for the wrong task decreases its usability a lot quicker. As you harvest new resources you can build bigger and better tools made out of stone, iron and diamond. The better the material the longer the tool lasts of course.

Youíll have to search and mine for these new resources. Iron ore is mined from the earth of course so youíll have to do some digging with your pick axe. But to create iron tools youíll have to smelt the iron ore. Yup, see another little twist that makes this game so complex and so much fun. Everything is tied together in some form or fashion. You can get food from pigs, but you'll need to cook it before you can eat it. You can get leather from cows to make armor, but you'll have to craft it at the crafting table. Thankfully, the crafting table is all visual and tells you exactly what you need when it comes to ingredients for each item. Items you do not have in a recipe will be slashed out in red so you'll have to go find some before proceeding with crafting that certain item.

 
 

For those that enjoy multiplayer you should be happy to know that there is both split screen and online multiplayer. In the split screen mode you can play with up to 3 other players locally. Online you can play with up to 8 folks in the world which is very cool and makes the game a lot of fun especially when you work together to create masterpiece worlds. Unfortunately, the game is not out yet so the ability to get some online time was slim to none. I did however play at home with some friends and found the game very enjoyable.

Overall, Minecraft is an awesome game regardless of how it looks. The retro look and feel of the game will please the older generation of gamers for sure and the depth of the game will please all gamers. If you can look past the oversized pixels you will definitely see that this game is a must have. While it may look simple, itís what is under the hood that really counts and let me tell you. The best way to describe this game is to pretty much say donít judge a book by its cover. This game is like putting a 2012 Ferrari engine under the hood of a 1970s Volkswagen Beetle and letting someone thing they have a normal VW Bug until they actually drive it. You need to check this game out.

 
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