Review: Building a Better World With Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition (Xbox Live Arcade)

A bit pricey, but this port of “Notch”’s hit PC game is definitely worth investing in.

When Minecraft was announced last year for Xbox 360, a lot of folks figured it wasn’t a surprise, since Microsoft is all about lining up exclusive fare for owners of its console.  But, still, isn’t it more at home on a PC?  Could the experience possibly be ported over to Xbox Live Arcade and keep its awesome resourcing system intact?  Well, after a long time in development, the game arrived this week on the Marketplace and answered that question with a well-deserved “yes”.

Everything that made the original PC effort so addictive is completely intact in Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition.  The game is still separated into two halves, building stuff during the day and then fighting for survival at night.  During the day time, you’ll chop down wood, chip away at stones and gain access to other materials (kill an 8-bit pig, I dare you), which you can then forge together on a table into new items, allowing you to rebuild the world around you however you please.  Now, it is something that takes time, so don’t think that this is some Lego experiment.  You’ll need time and patience to put your structures together.  But the effort is definitely worth it, as you can build some tremendous stuff here.

When night comes, you’ll need as many strongholds as you can get, as monsters ranging from zombies to giant spiders to those fear-inducing Creepies are out to ruin your day.  You could try to fight back, but survival is really the name of the game here, so just find a place to hide and them get back to building in the morning.  Simple.

Minecraft’s gameplay has been faithfully revitalized with the Xbox 360 controller in mind.  Moving around and resourcing materials feels great, thanks to the smooth first-person controls and helpful interface.  You can switch through menus with ease and see whatever tools you have available through a convenient bar, so you can build without needing to tap 47 billion buttons – a nice touch.

What’s more, Minecraft also encourages multiple players to join in.  The game supports four player split-screen building, so you can work with friends on making some really freaky stuff locally; or you can log in to Xbox Live with seven other online players and really get cracking on some great buildings.  It’s simple, and hardly competitive, but it’s fun, and a nice extra to have.