This review has been a long time coming. I’ve been playing “Minecraft” ever since I bought my way into the Alpha sometime in 2010 and I’ve had the pleasure of watching it grow ever since. I’m sure there’s still some growing to be done, if the mods that the community have developed is any indication. Still, I felt it to be the right time to take a moment and revisit Minecraft to review it as a standalone product…that is, without mod support. For review purposes, I’m currently sitting at version 1.4.6. I won’t spend a lot of time on this article, mainly because “Minecraft” is best experienced as a story that one starts writing from day one. However, it should help to give you an idea of what you’d be in for, should you decide to take the plunge.
The main menu lets you play single & multiplayer, set texture packs, and adjust game options. It’s important to note that before you get to this screen, you’ll have to log in with a username and password, which you’ll set when creating an account on the official website. The options menu lets you adjust video, sound, control, and other game settings. You can also adjust your difficulty between peaceful, easy, normal, and hard. If you’re looking for a game without enemies, peaceful is the mode you’ll want.
Starting a single player game lets you generate a new world or load an existing one. If creating a new world, you can choose between survival, hardcore, and creative modes, the last of which lets you build everything from the get go and enables the ability to fly. Obviously, creative mode is more for those who want to let their creative juices flow without worrying about creepers ruining their day. Survival starts you out with barely anything and you’ll be forced to survive in the environment. Hardcore locks the difficulty on survival mode and gives you only one life to play around with.
Multiplayer is a bit harder to set up. There’s no in-game server creator, so you’ll have to download the server tools from the Minecraft website. Once you do, you’ll have to run the server exe, load up Minecraft, and provide others with your IP address. I’m not too savvy when it comes to technical stuff like this, so I struggled with the process. I would have liked to have had a more user-friendly way to play online with others. Customizing your server has its own Wiki page and involves a lot of editing…again, something I’m not too fond of.
Once you enter the world of Minecraft, you’re exposed to a living, breathing world full of wonder and danger (assuming peaceful mode isn’t enabled). Pigs, cows, and chickens roam the environment while a day and night cycle rotates in the background. Rain or snow will make appearances, depending on what biome you’re currently in. You’ll encounter different types of trees and materials, again, depending on the biome you’re in at the time. For a game that comes off as “blocky”, it certainly does feel like the real thing.
You’ll be able to access your inventory at any time and move things around as you like. You have nine slots on the bottom of your inventory screen, which represent the nine slots you see at the bottom of your primary screen. This allows you to access important items quickly. You’ll also see health and food indicators, which change as particular game events occur. Go too long without eating, for example, and your food indicator will drop, which will then affect your health indicator. Having a full food bar will regenerate your health. You can also lose health when attacked by an enemy, though wearing armor can help negate most of the damage.
This game is called “Minecraft” for a reason. The majority of your time will be spent underground exploring the various caves the world generates. If you’re lucky, you’ll find some rare minerals that you can use to craft even more items. Scattered throughout these caves are dungeons that hold mob spawners, which continuously spawn a particular mob type until you either destroy it or make it inert with torches. Some creative players even design complex Rube Goldberg machines that kill these mobs and harvest their loot automatically…this game rewards ingenuity.
Speaking of mobs, you’ll run into quite a few and mostly at night. The main ones are zombies, skeleton archers, spiders, creepers, endermen, and more recently, bats. Creepers are by far the worst of the lot…even Minecraft memorabilia tends to agree with me. They sneak up on your quietly and shortly explode thereafter, damaging both you and the surrounding environment. The only warning you’ll have is a quiet hiss, but by then it’s generally too late. That house you’ve been working so hard on? Yeah, leave the door open one night and see what happens when your back is turned.
I barely scratched the surface of this game and no matter how many pages I make this review, I won’t be able to do it justice. I’ll simply say that I enjoy playing it, though I wish there was more content available to keep things interesting (without mod support). I’ve created a home, grown my own food, crafted bigger and badder equipment with diamonds (one of the rarer minerals), slayed my three thousandth creeper, explored caves, been to every biome, visited the nether (an alternate underworld of sorts where the boss lies), and more. It’s fun when you’re in the mood to be creative and explore, but not so much if you’re looking to expand on your characters via RPG elements…as there are barely any to speak of. Those who are looking for a “Lego” sandbox to play in filled with monsters and awe, you’ve come to the right place. Those looking for character development, a storyline, and stat building should look elsewhere.
Final Verdict: 9/10