Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition Review
The day has come and passed! Minecraft is finally on the 360! Is that a good thing? Of course it is. Is it as great as it should be? No. Not even close.
The slow development and obvious lag behind the creative modders has made its way over to this edition of the popular indie hit. Don’t get me wrong here, though. This is still the definitive Minecraft experience for Microsoft’s home console. It easily beats out the clones like Castle Miner and FortressCraft. The main problem, to me, is the version of Minecraft that this shipped with. We were given a controller-focused 1.6.6 version of the PC game. That means the most advanced feature in the game is the Nether.
Yes, that means no The End, no Endermen, no Adventure Update, no mine shafts, etc. etc. etc. To be honest, even if they had released the game in the 1.8 beta update, I doubt there would have been much upheaval about this. I can’t see a reason as to why 4J would start on this patch and give us an experience that is far, far away from the PC. The game just feels so barren and weak compared to what is there on your desktop or laptop. For those who have never played Minecraft before this, then you’ll find plenty to like but if you just go on a friend’s PC real quick you’ll see how much you’re missing out on. This is almost like a completely different game.
Enough about the version, Minecraft 360 does get a few things extremely right. Multiplayer here is extremely easy to set up and just play with friends. Servers can hold up to 8 individual people but each person can have up to four player split screen locally and all those players can join up, too. Local or online, you won’t find a better multiplayer experience for this game. It takes a hell of a system to run a Minecraft server smoothly on the PC. On the 360, all it takes is a few clicks. There were some reconnect issues when player count got a little high but I’m sure it will be fixed.
In fact, that’s what I am hoping for here. I hope Microsoft ensured 4J studios will update this game often to fix bugs or add new things. 4J has already said they will continue to update the 360 edition with existing PC patches but if they do it at the pace of the PC team over at Mojang, the game will die out before we reach version 1.0 out of beta. Microsoft is putting a lot of emphasis on this game. I really hope they push the team to make it great.
The controls here are about a great as you can expect. Thing is, it feels a bit awkward until you get used to them. Funny thing is, if you think about, these controls mirror the mouse very well. Left trigger places things (or uses them) and the right mines (or attacks). This is just like the left and right mouse buttons on the PC. However, console users aren’t really use to using the left trigger for really important things. Most games use the right trigger for shooting, stabbing, etc. This feels awkward on the controller and I found myself many, many, many times using trying to use the right trigger to do both mining and placing. Aside from that, the controls are pretty good. Zipping through the inventory and using the hotbar is easy. Moving, jumping, and focusing on a specific block is not as hard as you may think.
The crafting menus are expertly done. The only bad thing I can say about it is that these new menus get rid of the need to find out things or experiment. The game literally shows you absolutely everything you can create and what you need. However, this means you can keep in the action and quickly set things up to build, cook, or smelt. The menus for the crafting itself are great as you go left or right to pick an item and up or down to quality (wood, iron, gold, etc.). The bumpers change which type of items you are looking at. You can switch to building materials and then weapons or armor and power sources.
This version also comes with a great tutorial mode and tips that pop up while playing. These tips are actually a bit helpful to veteran players, too. When you look or use something new, a tip comes up and tells you about it. I used these to help me find Coal in a dark tunnel. These tips are great for newcomers as Minecraft can be really daunting to beginners.
You may wonder why I gave the Fun Factor only a 7. Well, I usually explain Minecraft’s excellence just like bottling ships as a hobby. It can be boring or tedious while building but the end result just gives you that huge feeling of satisfaction. All 7 points for this category go to that kind of feeling. You won’t feel like you’re having fun while building (unless you are doing a joint project with friends) and you may even feel like it is a job depending on the scope of your project.
Unfortunately, I have to go back to more negative news. You won’t find any mods here which means texture packs are also out. 4J studios says they wish to get these on here but right now we have to deal. This kind of stinks as some of the new about Minecraft is changing the way everything looks or adding crazy things that the real developers just wasn’t gotten to. 4J has also stated a wish to get PC and 360 players able to play on the same server. I can’t imagine how hard that sort of thing would be to code so I don’t see this feature coming any time soon.
With so much missing, the experience between this new version and the PC version is huge. Veteran players will find using the controller and easy server setup to be the only features worth talking about. It is a shame that they will find so much to dislike or hope for. It is really hard to recommend that PC players buy this one as well. Right now, I’d stay on your desktop or laptop. If you have never played Minecraft before, then you’ll enjoy the building aspect of this game immensely. Minecraft is a great game that has suffered from slow development and creators who put too much on their plate before finishing a project. I hope that 4J and Microsoft are ready to tackle these issues and make the 360 version of Minecraft a huge success. I just don’t see it at release.