GAME NAME: Minecraft: PlayStation 3 Edition
DEVELOPER(S): 4J Studios
GENRE(S): Adventure, Indie, Sandbox, Open World
RELEASE DATE(S): December 18th, 2013
Minecraft, it’s a world filled with rough edges, squares, bricks, blocks and wooden logs and is nearly impossible to leave… until a creeper kills you and destroys something you just spent a couple hours building and you rage quit.
By now, most of you will already know about Minecraft in some way, shape or form, but if you don’t, here’s a little info to clue you in. You play a nameless miner who has to find a way to survive in the world of Minecraft. During the day, you are free roam the lands in peace as you gather your supplies and resources. Things begin to change as the sun sets, however, as you’ll need to find ways to protect yourself from the enemies that come out at night.
There’s no actual plot or story, but there is a specific and inevitable outcome. At some point, you’ll gather the right resources, create a certain item and eventually find yourself jumping through three different dimensions: the Overworld (the one your start in), the Nether dimension and The End dimension.
When you start, you get the option of playing the tutorial level or just starting the survival mode campaign. As a beginner, I took the tutorial and learned the basics. While the controls are pretty easy and responsive, the tutorial isn’t the most well designed. The issue is the world isn’t closed off, and because the tutorial requires you to follow a certain path, if you accidentally wonder off in the wrong direction, you’ll land up lost and not learning everything you need to know. The worst part is, the main game includes all of the information given to you in the tutorial as soon you interact with a specific object, making those few hours spent feel a little useless.
Once you’re done with the training level, the real fun starts. Every new game creates a new world, so you’ll never have the same landscape, meaning your adventure will always be different from the last one. You start off with nothing but a map, your wits, your creativity and the ability to karate chop a tree. It’s very difficult and a little daunting for the first few hours, but once you hit past 4 hours of game time, you’ll be hooked for ages. It’s pretty simple really: chop, mine or dig out a specific resource and convert into another material. Chopped wood can be made into planks and rods that can be used to make tools, sand can be melted into glass, iron ore can be used to create metal fences or advanced tools and weapons, etc. The list goes on. You’ll start off small, but you’ll grow rapidly as time passes. What will start out as a small wooden hovel quickly expands into a bricked fortress surrounded by six-block high walls that are patrolled by iron golems or walking snowmen.
Soon, your little fortress will turn into a kingdom as you begin to prepare your land, cultivating the nearby grounds into farms, herding cattle and fending off attacking zombies, skeleton archers and kamikaze creepers. But what really makes this game shine, other than seeing the kingdom you built, is all of the exploration. The tiny little “continent” you begin on will eventually run out of resources and you’ll need to find new sources of these valuable materials. You’ll be looking for iron, gold, valuable gems and coal, deep underground, while finding seeds, wood and light above it. You’ll traverse wide spaces of water to gain access to new lands that hold more resources and a place for you to expand your growing kingdom. Your journey will be perilous though, as there are creatures and beings that will attack you. And if that’s not bad enough, try falling to your death while mining a cave, falling into a pit of lava, drowning or starving.
While adventuring both below and above ground, I noticed how effortless the game is. It’s not a game that takes itself too seriously, yet has a great deal of depth to it. Going into a cave unprepared leaves you vulnerable to attack. Not having food on you, leaves you open to starvation. Not having the right tools on you means you’ll need to backtrack and risk not finding that specific location ever again. The game is riddled with hardships and will make you think twice about adventuring at night. Sometimes you’re just unlucky and you’ll be attacked by a mob of creepers, die and lose all of your equipment – yeah, it’s harsh. There’s nothing quite like rage quitting in a game like Minecraft. It also manages to blend so many different game genres, but doesn’t suffer the identity crisis so many other games do when they try to encompass many different genres.
It’s not all fun and games though. There are a few bugs in the system. The first problem I had involved the game not saving properly. When I returned to the game, I found that my recent save file wasn’t registered and I had to play from an earlier point. It’s only happened to me once, so I’m not sure if it’s a fluke or a bug. The other distracting issue I found was when digging underground, some of the blocks make a visual flash just before being mined. The same thing happened when I was chopping trees. Another big issues of Minecraft, as I mentioned before, was reincluding all of the information provided in the tutorial. It distracts you from your current objective and puts you in a slightly annoyed space for a few minutes. The map you are given is horrific to use and you’ll very quickly find yourself lost if you’re not careful. The very random autosaving feature is another thing that disrupts your gaming flow. The framerate is also a little unstable, but you’ll be so absorbed into the world, you’ll barely notice it.
Despite the few faults in the game, Minecraft is a pleasant surprise and highly addictive to boot. The world is brutal and daring but is also a game that welcomes creativity. It may not look like your cup of tea, it certainly didn’t look like mine, but now I’m hooked and ready to build Middle Earth, or at least Mount Doom. There’s a reason every other game after Minecraft wanted to copy Minecraft.