Minecraft 360 Version
Minecraft's release on the Xbox 360's Arcade marketplace has been nothing short of incredible. As an independent game release Minecraft has once again proven that games are all about the fun and playability and not always about fancy graphics and gore.
Of course, the Minecraft phenomenon is nothing new; the PC version has been around several years now and has gone through countless iterations and upgrades that have made it a firm favourite amongst PC gamers worldwide. It is from one of the earlier PC iterations that the Xbox version has been ported.
And this is one of the reasons that existing PC players will have only a passing interest in the 360 version. For them it would be a step backwards and there is probably too much missing for them to devote time away from their PC experience.
But for the newcomer to Minecraft this 360 version is probably the best starting place and if the truth be told it is by far an easier game to get into and understand than its big brother.
Fundamentally Minecraft is a sandbox world in which the player has complete control over how they wish to play the game. There are a few fundamental aspects of the game that set out certain parameters and rules but ultimately it's up to the player to determine what time of game they want to play out.
New players to the game will be immediately taken aback by the style of the game. The truth of it is that the game looks and feels like something from 20 years ago but it works incredibly well. Everything is made up of square blocks and you get that retro felling of the old 8-bit worlds from days gone by. It's something that makes Minecraft unique in todays gaming.
Fundamentally Minecraft is about mining and crafting items - it's that simple. You dig and you build and what you dig and build is entirely up to you. Everyone starts off the same, spawning into the world with nothing but your bare hands.
In Minecraft you don't have time to enjoy the view of your new world and look around. Night is coming and you'll need to harvest materials to craft tools in order for you to mine coal for light and fashion a make-shift home before the dangers of the dark come out.
The most intense aspect of this game happens over the first few nights. There is a real sense of panic and tension as you rush to obtain what you need just to survive the first night. Many a player will find themselves short of time and rush to burrow into a hillside and block themselves away from the on-rushing monsters, only to be faced with a night of complete darkness staring at a black monitor as they failed to make the required torches to light up their new home in the dirt.
Minecraft can be as simple or as complex as you want. There are countless tool and objects to craft that can help you mine for materials or simply help you build your next mansion masterpiece.
The 360 version is a lot different from the current PC release and in some ways the differences are welcome. Firstly the 360 version has a complete tutorial and in-game hints that really help you understand the game. PC players were forced to fire up a browser to search for tips and gameplay rules.
Secondly the 360 version has a much improved interface. The crafting experience has been streamlined and you no longer have to memorise the recipe for crafting items or tools. This makes a big difference and aids the transition from mouse to controller.
The 360 version doesn't incorporate a Creative mode where you are able to access infinite resources and fly - specifically to aid in construction of building etc. it does have a Peaceful mode that will help somewhat as the monsters will ignore you and you are free to build without hassle.
Minecraft on the 360 is a brilliant experience, it's the perfect introductory version for newcomers and no doubt upgrades will come in the form of DLC in the future. Be warned though, be prepared to put a lot of time into this if you do download it - it's incredibly addictive.