Minecraft for the Xbox 360 is what it sounds like, and little more. It’s Minecraft on your Xbox, which is far from a bad thing. In fact, it brings some benefits over its PC counterpart. Unfortunately it also brings some drawbacks.
The biggest drawback comes with the version they ported over from the PC. Do you like enchanting? Alchemy? Limitless exploration? Jungle biomes and their accompanying features? Ravines? Endermen? Having to eat or starve to death? If you answered yes to any of them then you will be disappointed (and if you said yes to the last two, I’m disappointed in you). Two features I most miss are mass-cooking food and sprinting. You now have to cook your pork one piece at a time again because they don’t stack here. Based on the beta 1.6.6 version this isn’t Minecraft as it’s played on the PC. If you just look at it like that, you won’t enjoy this version. However if you instead enjoy it at face value and take advantage of its inherent strengths, you’ll find that this isn’t a dumbed-down kiddy version after all.
It’s still Minecraft, with the exploration, mining, crafting and combat that entails. You’ll still need to punch wood to make planks and sticks, and then a workbench and tools, but rather then placing items on a grid, you open a menu and select what you want to build. Provided you have the materials and – for most things – are using a workbench, the game then makes it for you and plops it into your inventory. This beats trying to figure out the crafting combinations on your own on PC but feels a little clumsier then when you already know the recipes and can just churn things out. I wish they’d handled inventory differently, because as is you move a freeform mouse-like curser around the screen and it just feels loose. How is this better than just moving the curser from space to space, like 90% of other console games?
Split screen is the big draw for allot of people, and it delivers on a number of levels. Most importantly you can play with up to three other people locally, and it’s surprisingly different from playing on multiple computers, even when they’re in the same room (as Omega and I often do). Seeing your friend’s view as well as yours makes coordination much simpler. My biggest complaint is the size of the UI. In single player the item bar is almost too large but when you start to split the screen the UI as a whole becomes almost unusable. You need an HDTV for starters, because SDTVs are not supported for split screen, and even then the size matters. If your screen is much less than 30 inches it becomes a bear to try and make out any of the text, like item names or quantities.
The game starts everyone with a map that shows all of your positions in the game, but should you die or lose it, you will have to make a new one. I was actually surprised to see how easy it was to get caught by monsters, especially creepers, in this version. The fact that in split screen you can’t tell who monsters noises are near to makes it hard, but the slow view panning – necessary in my eyes for building and mining – is deadly when under attack. It’s also frustrating having to cycle through items one by one because it’s significantly slower then scrolling your mouse wheel.
Back to the split screen play, there’s something more all together social playing with someone on the same screen. It’s similar to how Mario Kart Wii is better locally then online – nothing beats celebrating success and lamenting failure with your friends in the same room.
Visually, expect to have to turn up the brightness when you play. I had to crank mine way up because I found I needed a torch every two blocks just to see where I was walking in my cave, and even then it was not enough to see what it was I was digging up. The sounds are pure Minecraft, but the old, loud explosion sound was jarring after the quieter ‘pop’ that the PC version now uses.
In the end, is Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition worth your time? If you have more than one Minecraft fan to gather around your TV, then yes. It won’t replace the PC version any time soon – especially with the lack of mods, skins, texture packs, creative mode and other PC-centric goodies – but it’s still Minecraft and it’s still fun. For the solo player it’s not nearly as worth your time but for those who prefer consoles to PCs or can’t play Minecraft on PC, then go ahead and pick it up. Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition still has that undeniable charm that has grabbed the hearts of millions.
|Fun local multiplayer; It's Minecraft||Hard to use UI; It's not the current PC-standard Minecraft|