Game Rant‘s Riley Little reviews Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
It’s been a long time coming, but Minecraft will finally be making its much-anticipated debut on a home console come May 9th. While excitement builds (pun intended) for the game’s impending release, we come bearing news on whether or not the game is even worth getting excited about. Newcomers to the Minecraft phenomena – a true rarity amongst the masses at this point – will enjoy the simplicity brought by the game’s modified control scheme and crafting layout. Veterans, however, will immediately notice that the console port just doesn’t stack up to its PC counterpart.
Minecraft has, at its core, always been about gathering resources, building shelters, and surviving - Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is no different. Players will begin their journey with nothing but a map in the Xbox 360 version. As they run around the block-tastic world, they’ll gather different items to build structures, tools, and even armor. A well-lit shelter is essential for survival, and it needs to be built before night time comes around…
The classic ‘Survival’ mode makes its triumphant return, much to the delight and expectation of fans everywhere. Hopefully the ‘Adventure Update‘ wasn’t something that fans became too attached to though – because Minecraft for the Xbox 360 is missing this noticeable improvement. There’s no food meter, no “Creative Mode,” a serious lack of an XP bar, chickens don’t drop meat, Endermen and Silverfish are nowhere to be found, and the option to run is missing in action. The map is also included in the beginning because, unlike the PC version, invisible walls can be found surrounding the border of the map; limiting how far gamers are allowed to explore dramatically.
All of these things were part of the PC version prior to its official release last year, which means that gamers purchasing Minecraft on the Xbox 360 are being sold a moderately discounted Beta version on console. Fortunately, updates are confirmed to be en route to the game at a later date. These will presumably get Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition on par with the PC version, but there’s no word on when those updates will be coming – and more importantly whether or not they’ll be free.
Despite lacking some of the content that currently exists in the main iteration of the game, Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition does contain much of what made the original title – prior to its extensive updates – so much fun. Wandering around the open world and being able to explore every nook and cranny of the map is just as much fun as ever before, and the option to tame a pack of wild dogs does give players something to do other than just collect more stuff. Sitting down on a couch with a controller (in lieu of being hunched over a keyboard and mouse) is a nice change, and anyone who prefers to play their games on consoles will surely enjoy this flexibility.
As with many new releases though, there are a few glitches that can currently be found floating around. Hostile mobs will occasionally glitch into light-filled and completely finished shelters while gamers are sleeping. Another technical fumble that occurs regularly is the inability to craft tools, torches, or other objects – despite having all the resources required for the build – forcing the player to back out of the crafting option and re-enter it. These glitches aren’t game-breaking, and patches should be coming in the near future to correct them, but they’re encountered so often that it’s baffling the debug team missed them.
Even with the apparent flaws in the game’s design, Minecraft on the Xbox 360 does one thing so incredibly right – split-screen co-op. Not just boring old two player split-screen either, but a nostalgia-inducing 4-player split-screen co-op. For the first time ever, up to three buddies can join their friend in Minecraft to build, mine, and survive together. These players can also jump in and out whenever they want, making the process of someone grabbing a controller and joining mid-adventure a seamless one.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition‘s multiplayer awesomeness doesn’t stop there either, as eight players are able to enter one map online simultaneously and craft to their hearts content. Joining multiplayer in Minecraft has never been as easy as it is in this version – and if there are a handful of rude pals on the ol’ Friends List then setting the game to ‘Invite Only’ will ensure that none of them will be stealing treasure or destroying complex self-made structures without first inviting them to the game. Of course, you already knew all of this if you watched the multiplayer trailer for Minecraft on 360.
There’s no question that the multiplayer is the biggest highlight of the entire game, but that’s not to say it’s perfect. Since games are set up and hosted by individual players, groups hoping to construct towns while the friend hosting is offline will be unable to do so. Depending on everyone’s Internet connection, Minecraft can also throw a fair amount of lag at multiplayer participants. Prior to a pre-release patch, my Xbox would also freeze up whenever trying to connect to a friend’s game, and the same also happened to him when he’d attempt to join mine.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition provides console gamers with their very own way to play the indie smash-hit, but anyone who’s played it on PC will feel like they’re backtracking. That said, split-screen multiplayer, 400 gamerscore points, and unlockable Avatar awards await Xbox 360 owners dying to get some playtime with the fan-favorite downloadable title. It should be noted that they’re paying 1600 Microsoft Points ($20) for a game that doesn’t even come close to offering what the original version currently does. Still, Minecraft on the Xbox 360 is a lot of fun, and it will only become better as Mojang continues to update it.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is available exclusively on the Xbox 360 (via Xbox Live Arcade) beginning May 9th, 2012.
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