STAFF REVIEW of Minecraft (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Monday, May 7, 2012.
by Brent Roberts

Minecraft Box art In today's gaming world, the innovation of a dream and proper execution mean everything. You may have a tremendous idea, but if you can't accurately portray your vision, then your game falls short of your goals. Not all games though miss their visions of becoming reality and some still surpass all our wildest dreams by taking our imagination to new heights and allowing us to be our own artists and our own creators. It is the legendary gaming tale of an idea that comes from out of nowhere to become a cultural staple of innovation and creativity and instantly captivating generations of gamers, this is the foundation of the one and only, Minecraft. From its early days on PC to being released on the Xbox Live Arcade, Minecraft has brought millions of gamers around the world hours upon hours of amusement, and showcased some amazing talent that was once hidden from the world. Now without further adieu, we here at Xbox Addict welcome you to the world of Minecraft on the Xbox Live Arcade.

Minecraft is a massive sandbox game that allows the gamer total control over almost everything in the world and allows you to create almost whatever your imagination can dream up. For those who have never played Minecraft, you take control of your character and it is up to you to explore the world on a quest to reach a realm called The End and confront and conquer the infamous Ender Dragon. In order to do this you gain the ability to craft multiple items from tools, decorations, food, weapons, building supplies and more. From the outside Minecraft looks to be a very simplistic game, but when you dive deep into the catacombs you will quickly realize that there is much more under the surface.

Players interact with different blocks by digging, mining, chopping and more and each of these acts as a building block for future dreams. For example if you wished to build a Crafting table that allows you the ability to craft better items, then it's up to you to chop enough wood (via an axe which you must originally create) to craft four wooden planks. If you wanted to craft a Furnace which gives you the ability to smelt ore and other materials into ingots and higher quality materials, then you must first create a pickaxe (which requires you to craft it out of wood at first) and mine eight pieces of cobblestone. Items can be crafted in various levels of durability and range from wood being the weakest to diamond securing the top spot, but every tool has a certain number of uses which are determined by the quality grade that you craft. Wood items have roughly 60 or so uses while diamond items can be used over 1500 times!

The reason durability is so important is that every time you use your tool, which counts as a use for the item, and for example, if you use a shovel to chop down a tree, then every use of that shovel counts twice per swing since it's the wrong tool. Once the tool's durability has been exceeded the tool cannot be used and another one has to be crafted. This durability aspect also plays a major role in the construction of weapons that can do massive damage and armor that can take on an army. The crafting aspect of Minecraft is a spectacle of innovation and execution that provides a solid foundation that no pickaxe can mine.

The depth of Minecraft is mind boggling and this attention to realism boils over into your character management as well. Your character starts out with ten hearts which can be whittled down by taking damage from things such as monsters, falls, lightning and more but can be brought back by restoring health through eating food so you should always make sure to have a furnace and food ready to go if you run into trouble. Another tip would be to have a shelter prepared to go to with beds because once the sun goes down the enemies come out and if you're not careful you could find yourself face to face with some serious danger that will ruin your day. If you take the difficulty to any level above peaceful, then your character will also have to account for hunger. Yes even when mining and farming and digging your character expends energy and will eventually start draining health until you chow down on some food.

Originally we said that Minecraft is a sandbox style game but what we didn't explain is how the beauty lies in the simplicity of the world. The graphics are a direct throwback to the olden days of video games and provide a massive nostalgia feeling to those who date back to the NES days and beyond. Sure this game doesn't have hyper realistic graphics, and ultra-mega super amazing physics, but the beauty of it, is that Minecraft doesn't need them to be amazing. If Minecraft has found a way to take beauty out of simplicity in terms of graphics, then the same can easily be said for the music. Harmonic melodies float from the speaker and coat your ears in a soothing blanket of comfort and relaxation and provide a calming atmosphere throughout your adventure. The melodies give the feel of a classic old school game rift, but the atmosphere it creates is a sonic marvel.

Lately there has been a drought of great retail titles and so the focus has been placed squarely on the shoulders of the Xbox Live Arcade. There have been some games that are horrible rip offs that offer nothing but an excuse to be robbed of your Microsoft Points, but then there are the games that stand alone as iconic masterpieces of work that provide gamers with countless hours of enjoyment. It's very rare to find a game that perfects the minute details of simple actions and turns it into a work of art. Whats even more shocking is that there have been games that have been in development for over ten years that don't even come close to the quality of this game, and it's an arcade game at that. Granted it may have a high price point, but if you think about other amazing works of art such as: A Ferrari, a Renoir painting, fine champagne you'll discover that beauty of that caliber pays top dollar. Minecraft possess all the qualities of a masterpiece, and a top tier price tag to compliment it, but one thing is for sure, it's worth every penny.

Overall: 9.6 / 10
Gameplay: 9.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 9.5 / 10


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