Minecraft Review – LEGO for Adults without the pain of stepping on the bricks

Well Minecraft is, as of last November, officially a game and as such it seems that other gaming websites used this as the perfect opportunity to review it. We did consider jumping on this particular bandwagon but don’t say MMGaming is no different to other Gaming websites because we are only doing it now… With absolutely no reason to whatsoever. Okay honestly we did mean to post this review way-back-when Minecraft first became a game but due to a combination of laziness and no other opportunity to do so we are only posting it now. So welcome to world’s laziest review of the world’s biggest “Indie” game Minecraft. And those quotation marks are there because Mojang had, even prior to Minecraft’s “release”, sold over 4 million copies… which is more than a fair few big, mainstream games I could care to mention.

It is of course hard to know where to start with this as Minecraft has been playable for over three years now with people jumping into the game as early as the Alpha stages where you could barely build anything and you couldn’t even fight back against the multitude of monsters thrown at you every night. I personally was gifted (cheers Tim!) the game in the weeks before Christmas 2010, so I too am one of the lucky ones who bought the game in Alpha stage and was part of Minecraft “before it became cool”. I am also lucky in the sense that when I bought it Minecraft was relatively uncomplicated. The most impressive thing I can remember seeing on Youtube around the time I got it was a large downhill roller-coaster while these days we are shown fully working video games within a video game. That means I’ve had a slow build up of knowledge over the past year to the stage I am at now. Anyone buying Minecraft these days is being thrown in at the deep end. Anyway, I digress… Let’s review this thing!

A selection of the various blocks you can get in Minecraft (all placed) viewed in an HD texture pack

Minecraft is actually very difficult to describe to anyone who has never heard of it before. It’s a completely open, randomly-generated, sandbox world where everything exists as a “block” of 16 by 16 pixels (this means that the first thing a lot of, lets be charitable and call them “nooblets“, say is “Wow those graphics are awful!”). These blocks can be smashed up and then picked up into your inventory. They can then be repositioned anywhere you like or used to build certain items. Some blocks require certain tools to harvest and there are dozens of different block types in the game and hundreds of recipes for in-game items, tools and player made blocks.

A sailing ship built by our old Minecraft Correspondent; Ali
The same sailing ship after I set fire to it...

And that’s Minecraft. This is why it’s so hard to explain to people why Minecraft is good. Allow me to explain by giving you an example. You have a friend over to your house, you think want to to introduce them to a good singleplayer game. You think “Hey! S/he should try Minecraft!”. So you load up the game and sit him/her down in front of the screen. And then they ask “Okay, what should I do now?” And that’s where the whole POINT of Minecraft comes into play. YOU have to decide what YOU want to do. Being told what to do simply doesn’t work here…

Let me tell you another little story now. When I first got the game Tim scared me with tales of evil creatures appearing at night, so I quickly built a little mud hut to cower in overnight while I explored during the day. This quickly became boring at night as I would be sitting in a 4 x 4 space with nothing to do for ages. So I decided to make a pick-axe and burrow into the earth. Then I realised I had quite a nice little mineshaft going here, so I needed some coal to make torches to light up the inside. During this process I died a few times by accident and had gotten lost each time trying to find my mud-hut. “So”, I thought “I will make a tower with all this useless stone I’ve managed to harvest so that I can find my way back.” So I built a tower. But dammit I needed more stone, so I went and mined some more stone and finished the tower. Except now I had some more spare stone again. “So”, I thought “I guess I could always make a little extension here… and there… AND THERE…”

It wasn’t enough I wanted MORE… I wanted a castle… No… A FORTRESS! With a gate! And walls! And a moat of lava! And, and, and towers! Lots of towers! With glass windows! And I want diamond armour so everybody knows I’M the BOSS!

And that was me hooked and I sank hour after hour into the game in order to create my Stronghold. Also, due to a bug in the early save files of Minecraft I actually lost all my progress twice and started over, with the plans of making my next castle bigger and better than the last one!

And THAT ladies and gents is the point of Minecraft. You have to play it just long enough to find out that you suddenly can’t stop any more and that you simply need to build more and more in order to perfect your home. Whether you decide to live in a Fortress the size of Minas Tirith, a Viking log cabin, maybe you actually want to live in a replica of Minas Tirith, or maybe you just want to live in a gigantic penis… that shoots lava…

In fact it’s not just your home, you end up wanting to perfect your world to however you want it to be! But you can’t do something because somebody tells you to do it. Sure some things are important, like having torches inside your castle so that monsters can’t spawn and explode all your hard work… and your face. But overall the whole point of the game is that YOU decide what you want to do with your time in Minecraft and then you bloody well go and do it.

This is the view of an adventure/challenge map that someone built. Me and Ali downloaded it, completed it and then destroyed the fucker with oodles of water, lava and TNT

There are, as of the official release, some things I will call “end game content”. The alternate dimension “The End” is ridiculously difficult to reach and the Enderdragon “boss” in there is apparently ridiculously impossible to kill. And it does cause an “end” to the game with credits and everything. But really, like I said… that is not the point of Minecraft. It’s a nice thing to do and work towards when you don’t want to build anything for a bit, but building (or mining as the case may be) is what the game is about. I cannot stress that enough. It is a rather different system to that of Terraria where the aim of the game is to fight all the bosses and finish all the dungeons where building and mining is secondary, a means to an end.

I also want to put in here that so far all the content of Minecraft is actually fun and awesome. Everything from building a crummy castle out of cobblestone (because yes, these days that IS crummy) to faffing about with the most complicated Redstone electrical systems, enchanting and potion making all fits into the game excellently and means that there is always something that should tickle your fancy.

At the moment there are two game modes. “Survival”, in which you do what I have been talking about in order to make your world. You have to mine out and harvest anything you want to use from shovelling up dirt to mining out the deepest caverns for diamond. There is also “Creation” which allows you to fly, spawn blocks and generally put on god-mode. Creation is for those people with truly massive projects in mind (such as the video game within Minecraft) where it’s ALL about building the most impressive fucking thing you can! There is also a multiplayer mode in which you can play as survival mode with your friends or creation mode or you can download maps made by other people and play them.

All in all Minecraft does make for DAYS of fun and pure creation. It’s graphics are actually not too bad when you get past the whole blocky feel of it, and that in itself is actually quite charming. The wide variety of mods (from graphics mods to gameplay mods) are fantastic, allowing you to fully customise your mining experience.

It is not, a perfect game of course. Multiplayer servers are a hassle to set up and often pretty laggy. It makes you wish for a Terraria-like system where you can just jump online with your friends whenever you want. Other than that though I can’t really think of any problems I have aside from the occasional niggle.

At the moment Minecraft is actually available on Android phones as well as an app (£4.29). The content is a lot more limited though and you are only allowed to play in creation mode. There is also a recently released XBox Live version for those of you who can’t bear to be parted with your consoles. The full and complete PC version of Minecraft is available for download (on Mac and PC) for £16.95, which for the amount of time you could put in, is absolutely amazing!

Basically, Minecraft is an instant classic and is a game which every gamer should try once in his lifetime. Everyone should have the opportunity to create his or her own gigantic penis! Moreover, if you never play Minecraft then you will never get the following joke…

Rating: A

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