Minecraft---Xbox-360-Review Minecraft - Xbox 360 Review

   10/05/2012 at 10:22       Phil May       14 COMMENTS. - Score 5/5
 - Minecraft 360, Xbox 360, Mojang, Microsoft Game Studios, SSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

I couldn't really understand what had happened. One minute I lived in a world full of definition, of autumnal colours and funereal noise. Next I awoke in a block-shaped nightmare, stranded in the middle of nowhere. Friends had warned me what would happen if I took the journey but like all good little addicts everywhere I thought I could handle a little Minecraft between other games. What could possibly go wrong? 

The answer is that the human disposition towards addiction is the slipperiest of slopes. I should explain that I'm a Minecraft virgin, breaking my duck with the Xbox 360 version after slim dalliances with the free (or cheap) clones on offer previously. At 1600 points, big proper official Minecraft isn't cheap by any means, so it'd better be abso-bloody-lutely perfect right? 

What happened next after those 1600 points were ruthlessly sucked from my Xbox Live Account by the entity known as Mojang follows…

Newtopia Day 1: "Where am I?"

"Waking up" in Minecraft is like being a real-life Robinson Crusoe. I'd previously played through the demo's hand-holding tutorial so had already got to grips with the basics before being cast into the randomly seeded world of Newtopia. As far as the eye could see (or as far as the GPU could comfortably render) I could see blocks, different coloured blocks making up a gently undulating landscape. A smudge of blue in the distance looked like the sea. Snow-capped hills surrounded me on one side while lush thick towering forests grew on the other. 

In the daze of the early morning, Newtopia made me feel like Adam in Eden (no Eve, sadly, I think Mojang missed a trick there). As beautiful and blocky as the landscape was, it felt fairly inhospitable at first and so I set to work gathering the raw materials (mining) that I would later need. 

Newtopia held a secret. As night drew in and the vast blocky sun sank below the vast blocky horizon I had foreknowledge that things would become a lot more inhospitable once the darkness crept across those jagged hills. 

Sadly on Day 1 in Newtopia I was so enamoured by the sheer exhilaration of exploration that I was ill prepared. I had lazily picked out a likely looking cleft in the rocks in which to seek shelter at nightfall - but as Minecraft veterans will know, darkness in any form - even the dark recesses of a cave - is no place to venture unprepared. 

After meeting some of the indigenous lifeforms (and making sweet, sweet bacon out of some of them) I noticed the sun slowly sinking and the light dimming to a rich burnished copper. As Obi-Wan Kenobi once wisely said, "Time to get indoors". 

I made for the cleft I'd found earlier. Someone was already in there, a rather cute looking green slithering thing that made a slight hiss as I approached. "Hello little fellah! What are you doing here? Pleased to meet you I'm…" 

The next thing I knew I was regaining consciousness in a deep crater that was the refuge I'd previously sought. Creepers are walking explosions just waiting to happen. My heart meter indicated I was in piss-poor shape and even a couple of salvaged rashers of bacon didn't improve matters much. 

The creepers were one thing and I'd already learned a valuable lesson not to mess with them. The errant schoolboy twang of a ruler being thrummed on a desktop announced yet another of Newtopia's less friendly denizens, a skeleton armed to the teeth (and the ribs) with a bow and arrow was taking random pot shots at me and advancing rapidly. 

The rest of the night was a fight for survival, fruitlessly running from one safe haven to another, poorly prepared and with my life gauge dribbling away to nothing I eventually succumbed to the assaults of skeletons, zombies and spiders, endlessly respawning, losing all my carefully collected items and vowing to be better prepared the next night. After what seemed like an achingly long time, dawn approached as the blocky moon gave way to the blocky sun once again. All the nasties that had pursued me through the night erupted into flames, flailing around blindly in search of one last victim before they turned to ash. I hid, covered in a few blocks of earth and watched them burn. 

Newtopia Day 2: "We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig, to last the whole night through!"

The next morning, still low on health, the priority was to hunt. Pigs seemed to be nicely edible so I spent a few hours drumming up a bacon breakfast before kicking myself on the back of the head to remember all the lessons learned from the game's tutorial. "Dig to Survive, Mine to Live!" or something semi-philosophical like that. Wood seemed to be the easiest useful raw material to attain so I began to harvest and gather wood from the huge forest around me. 

Using the crafting bench and a simple furnace, turning wood into planks and sticks opened up all sorts of beneficial construction options to make my life easier. Wooden shovels, pickaxes and spades opened up my mining to new possibilities. Constructing hardier materials than just raw earth and sand became a chore but a necessary one. I would not succumb to the night creatures again. 

Ranging the landscape I found a likely-looking spot to begin building Fortress Maybe - a fortified shelter with a maze-like access tunnel which could easily be blocked off in a hurry. As Minecraft is like owning the world's biggest Lego set, once mining and block collection had begun I could start to fashion a comfortable place to spend the long night.

Just like real life, game time seemed to speed away as I got busy. Casting a look at the real-world clock I realised I'd already sunk three hours into Minecraft without even realising it. Trust me when I say it's been a very, very long time since that has happened with a game. 

Back in Newtopia the shelter was almost finished. Double-thick walls of earth covered with sandstone made up one wall, a lean-to against a cliffside which looked like it would provide plenty of protection. 

Observation holes were left in a couple of places so I could monitor the passage of the night. Stupidly I hadn't gathered enough crafting materials to construct doors or a bed (yet) and though I'd learned how to make glass from the tutorial, making glass amongst a myriad of other tasks to provide some solid portholes to look through (and stay protected behind) was a whole other ball game. 

Night came and I crossed my fingers. Through the holes in the double-thickness wall I could see part of the plane stretching down to the water's edge, and it was already well and truly alive and crawling with the undead and those little hissing nightmares that had laid waste to my first shelter. 

The eerie fascination with watching their spasmodic behaviour was almost my undoing once again. One came extremely close to the 'hatch' I'd left in the wall of my fortress. Though it was two layers away, it was still making an extremely determined attempt to get through and it was only the fact that I managed to close the hole quickly that saved me in this instance. I could still hear the rattling and carrying on from outside, which seemed to continue long into the daylight hours. 

I made my mental list of priorities for the following day. Glass windows for the fortress. Doors maybe. And christ, a bed, because watching the night come and go in real time while outside everything wanted to kill you was probably not a great way to rest and recuperate. 

Newtopia Day 3: "Rude awakenings"

F**k! They're inside! I don't know how they got in…! I must've left something open, missed something? What? What's that hissing noise I…



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