Minecraft Beta Review
Minecraft, the Phenomenon! If you’re into your games, you will have heard the name Minecraft, if you went the step further and tried to read up about the game you will have heard all kinds of strange explanations, as Minecraft is a strange game to explain, but I’ll give it my best shot…
It’s a game that’s still in the beta stage, yet 1.8 million people to date have already purchased it. You play in a randomly generated world made up of pixelated square cubes, this world includes such environments as forests, snow covered hills, caves, rivers and seas. The world is a sandbox and you’re free to explore and go wherever you please. The game has a day/night cycle of around 20 mins, this adds more to the game than just changing the lighting, as at night the monsters come out!!
As the unnamed human player, you’re pretty vulnerable as you start a new game with absolutely nothing at all in your inventory. So how do you survive the night time? You craft items such as tools, weapons and building blocks, and you make yourself a shelter to keep alive through the night. Still with me?
Crafting is a major part of the game. A brief sequence of building a shelter would be: Chop down a tree using your hands to get some wood, craft that wood into planks, craft a workbench from planks, craft planks into sticks, craft a wooden axe from the sticks and planks on the workbench, now use the wooden axe to chop down trees. Now craft a wooden pickaxe, use the wooden pickaxe on stone to get some stone blocks, craft a stone pickaxe from sticks and mined stone. Once you have a stone pickaxe you can mine for coal, craft a stick with mined coal to make torches to light up your surroundings and keep away the nasties. Use either planks, stone or even dirt to create a shelter, or dig into a rock-face. By the time you have done all that it will be going dark, just in time to close up the entrance and you’ll be safe at last!
There is also the mining side of the game. When you’re stuck inside at night, you may as well keep yourself busy and what are you going to do sat alone with a pickaxe? Dig, of course! Underground, hidden beneath the world are caves ripe for the mining of iron ore, gold, diamonds and more. But beware also lurking in the dark caves are the monsters, which I should say comprise of spiders, zombies and creepers. You’ll also find underground waterfalls and lava lakes.
Everything you make in the world is made from crafting materials and tools. You can create blocks of stone and glass, doors, boats, also items like mine carts, rail tracks, storage chests, fences, signs, ladders, the list really does go on and on, and with those building blocks the only limitation is your own imagination. People have created enormous castles, a full scale reproduction of the USS Enterprise, even full cities such as NEW YORK!
So there you go, trying to describe this game seams to take a life of its own. The depth of it is incredible you really have no limits to what you create.
A great thing about Minecraft is the modding community have taken it to their heart, you can freely download and install 100’s texture packs which change the way the game looks and modifications that change the way the game plays.
As well as the changes the community are making to the game, the creator Markus “Notch” Persson hasn’t sat back and counted his fortune, no, the game receives updates almost every week, with features and items being added into the game. The last update added wild wolves that you can tame with a bone, when you tame them they don a red collar, aaaw! The next update promises to add rain, snow and thunderstorms, and also achievements, Xbox style!
The game also has a multiplayer side to it, the gameplay doesn’t change, but the buzz of showing off your creations and seeing others as a community really adds to the game. Rather than being a competitive community where winning and killing is everything, it makes a nice leisurely change to be able to contribute towards a common goal and not have to kill your fellow gamers to feel rewarded.
Another thing I want to mention is I’m still surprised at the suspense and sense of danger that this game can give me. Without armour (yes, you can craft armour) you are quite vulnerable to attacks and exploring a deep dark unexplored cave really can give you that ‘I really don’t want to go in there’ feeling that is missing in games. You could have been mining for hours and have a nice stash of diamonds and gold and be on your way home only to hear the groaning sound of a zombie coming from the darkness, panic ensues, knowing a few hits could kill you and all that hard work will be lost, as upon death you lose everything you were carrying, and no, you cannot just load up a previous save and try again, its all gone!
So to sum up, I think Minecraft deserves all the acclaim it’s getting, all the attention too. It seems to have gone back to the ‘bedroom coders’ feeling, where the creators really don’t care about squeezing every bit of cash out of you. They just want to make this game as good as it can be, and enjoy seeing the world enjoying their work.
It was £10 when i purchased it and I’ve spent more time playing this than any console game this year so far. Also considering it has not stopped evolving yet, there’s plenty more to come.
Just as I finished this review the creator sent this tweet:
“@notch: MUOAHAHA! Pigs that get hit by lightning turn into zombie pigmen ;D”
Looking forward to it!