I'm sure everyone thought once the final build of Minecraft was released that we would stop hearing about it, and for awhile, the tempest seemed to die down. That is, until the most recent port was set loose on the 360. For console exclusive gamers who are experiencing minecraft for the first time, congrats. You've just acquired a new set of virtual legos.
So. A review on minecraft. That hasn't been done before right? Well, what can be said about minecraft that hasn't already been said? Nothing. So I'm not going to beat that dead horse. The main focus of this review will be the port itself, not the game.
Moving a keyboard and mouse title to a console is daunting. Designing a game with one set of controls in mind can end up isolating one experience over another. When working with a keyboard, obviously there are many more keys to work with. Take a look at a 360 controller. Condensing a keyboard and mouse experience into what you are assumedly looking at (if you even remotely humored me), can be a disaster.
Thankfully, Minecraft 360 handles the transition very well. The controller has all of the core functionality that you need when exploring the great wide pixelated hills and valleys. Personally, it makes the controls more accessible for me. I have tiny hands and always had to remap keys for smoother gameplay, and the port compacts the experience perfectly.
Multiplayer is a huge aspect of Minecraft and the fun derived from the shared experience is rivalled by very few titles, so obviously, I had to try it out in the port. My friend Dan was the only person I could find that had the 360 version of Minecraft, so I joined his world and he showed me around. The connection seemed solid outside of a little stuttering in his walk animation, but really who is playing this game for graphics and complex character animation? We adventured for a bit and even took a trip into the Nethers, where I hesitantly guarded Dan as he mined glowstone. It was definitely fun, but it begs the question of Will the multiplayer experience on the 360 ever compare to the PC version?
Outside of my randomized character looking like a solid combination of a tennis instructor and a pedophile, I did have a great time romping about my Game of Thrones inspired world. But the game does have some issues. Three issues, to be precise, and all involve the sheer fact that my 360 console is not running the PC version of the game.
The first issue is the time sink. Bear with me here, I know Minecraft is essentially one large time sink, but this isn’t one you can participate in. Starting up a new world can take a few minutes whereas the PC version could pump out the procedurally generated landscapes in a matter of seconds. And saving is also exponentially longer. Maybe I’m impatient, maybe I’m picky, but the bottom line is, you will be looking at longer load times all around with the 360 port.
Then there’s money. To play the 360 version of Minecraft online, you need $20 for the game plus a Gold subscription. Now, assuming you already have the Gold sub, the price of Minecraft 360 is cheaper that the current version offered on Minecraft’s official website, which is good! Cheaper is good, right? Unfortunately, that cheaper price might not end up being cheaper in the long run. Whereas a PC license will give you every update from here until the end of time, buying for the 360 only insures you will be nickled and dimed to get every expansion. In that scenario, I assume time ends before Minecraft does. I think it’s an accurate assessment.
And with the most obvious of obvious issues I could possibly bring to the table, you can’t mod the 360 version of Minecraft. Vanilla players might not understand, but the huge community of gamers who have tailored their minecraft experience to fulfill their dreams have spent the last few years expanding the game in a way Mojang could have never imagined. I’m thinking very specifically of the pokemon Minecraft mod. Either way, you can’t access that experience on the 360.
Considering the limitations of moving a PC title that is almost 4 years old to a console, Minecraft 360 comes through okay. My gripes are the result of knowing the ins and outs of the PC version, with three years under my belt. For gamers new to mining and crafting and those more accustomed to a controller over a mouse and keyboard, this port is exactly what you’ve been wishing for. You don’t have to be the only person in your group of friends who hasn’t punched a tree or cried at the sight of a creeper. For weathered PC gamers, this experience is merely novelty.
Personally, I’m not emotionally prepared to put another 200 hours into Minecraft. At least not while Diablo III is installed.