Game Review: Minecraft
You've probably played it, but read this anyway.
I know, I know, it’s old news. But you know what? They’re still updating this game over at Mojang and there’s still talk of a console release, so I’m going with it. That and I still need some time to do Mass Effect 3.
For those of you who are not aware (although I’m not sure how you couldn’t be at this point), Minecraft is an indie game made by the Swedish company Mojang, which was founded in 2009 by one Markus Persson. Since then, it has gone on to become one of the most popular Indie Games of all time, so much so that it was selected to be featured at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s “The Art of Video Games” exhibit in Washington.
So, just what is all the fuss about? Well, let’s take a look.
Plot and Characters
None. You play a square man in a square world. What he looks like is up to you; there are huge forums available which allow players to share the various skins they’ve created for the game, so the possibilities for what your dude looks like are nearly endless, and you have the know-how, you can make your own skin. This has, of course, led to several people making lewd skins which get them banned from multiplayer servers.
While the game itself has no plot, the addition of plot and characters by indie film makers has made quite a few people my age famous on Youtube, most notably the Yogscast featuring Simon and Lewis. Go check them out, by the way, as well as Gamechap and Bertie.
As I mentioned, the entire world consists of square blocks which are randomly generated, so each single player experience is unique in that way. The blocks come in many different flavors; there’s dirt, sand, wood, stone, various ores, and several dozen more. The terrain blocks make up biomes, such as forests, grasslands, tundra, and more recently jungles.
The world itself is inexplicably massive; roughly eight times the surface area of the actual Earth, last time I checked. I’ve read that it would take something like 800 hours to walk from one’s spawn point at the center of the map to one end of it. I’ve also seen on Youtube that some guy is actually attempting it...crazy fool.
With the blocks and the various items you can create with them using a crafting table, you’re free to do anything you want. Most people build themselves a small wooden house and then go cave diving towards the center of the earth for precious metals. Others, though, take the creativity to a completely different level, making gigantic replicas and complex machines that perform a variety of tasks that I’m sure the developers never anticipated.
The sky also rotates between day and night, so during the day you’ll have the opportunity to harvest and store food and resources. At night, however, you’ll probably want to hide in your house unless you have crafted yourself some decent weapons and armor (helpful hint: gold is portrayed as realistic, so it makes for terrible gear).
The reason for this is because a gaggle of monsters spawn in at night and they have only one thing in mind: killing you. There are zombies and skeletal archers which burn when the sun comes up, as well as spiders (who become neutral to you during daylight hours) and the mysterious and somewhat creepy Endermen.
The worst of these “mobs,” as they’re called, is the Creeper. Creepers basically look like cacti with faces, and they creep up behind you (hence the name) and detonate. The explosion is often enough to kill the player, which causes him to lose all of his items, and if you happened to be standing next to a creation of yours, the explosion can do a lot of damage to it.
This becomes particularly rage-inducing if you happened to be particularly far from your spawn point when you get killed and were carrying a lot of useful and/or precious items. Another way to get the blood boiling is falling into lava while in a cave; this will not only kill you but it will also burn all of your items, ensuring that you’ll never get them back.
All in all, the world of Minecraft is a hostile one, and you need to be sure to tread lightly, especially when it comes to cave exploring. Word of advice: don’t vernture out for long durations at night unless you have decent armor (preferably iron or better), and always have a bucket of water ready when you go cave exploring so that you can put yourself out when you inevitably tunnel into some lava.
The way this works is that people purchase multiplayer servers for fixed monthly fees. The admin can then allow and disallow anyone he wants to on the server. Some severs have only five slots, while some have more than 100.
Other than that, it’s the same game, just with more people. These partnerships, however, have led to incredible creations on multiplayer servers. Most of the larger ones have sprawling cites that go on for miles. In the early days of the game, some multiplayer servers managed to create their own trade-based economies using materials from the game. These days, however, most servers have mods which create digitized currencies for players to trade with.
The only real problem with the multiplayer comes from the players themselves. Anyone who has played Minecraft knows what a griefer is. For those of you new to this, a griefer is a massive jerk who runs around stealing items and destroying people’s creations for a cruel laugh at the creator’s expense. They also tend to clog up the chat log with obscenities. I also imagine that they’re extremely overweight and covered in acne from all the grease they consume, and that they do this because they know there are no consequences for it online and they’re too feeble cowardly to pick a fight in real life.
Fortunately mods have evolved to the point where they’ve nearly solved the problem of griefing, allowing players to have locked storage bins and setting the world so that players need permission to add and remove blocks. Griefers always find a way to be a nuisance, though. At that point the admin has the ability to ban them from the server.
I love Minecraft. I tend to play it in bursts of a few days and then leave it alone for several weeks, but it’s still fun. With thousands of multiplayer servers out there, there’s more to do than I think could ever be done. It does tend to wear out after a while, but trust me, once you’ve been without it for a month or two you’ll see something that reminds you of it and hop on again.
So how does one obtain a copy? Go to Minecraft.net and download it. It costs $26.95, and it’s worth every penny. Just remember to eat and shower and go to work in between building full scale replicas of the Starship Enterprise (someone seriously did).
The above is only my opinion. It just happens to be right.
Where to Purchase