A Minecraft review on Electricpig may seem a little strange. It is a resolutely independent game (essentially the product of one man’s imagination), is still in alpha and has the kind of blocky, retro graphics that will make the average Halo fan splutter with disgust. But for all its foibles and eccentricities, Minecraft is a phenomenon in both its single player and (slightly shaky) multiplayer guises.
Minecraft is one of those titles that become more than a game. It swallows up your time and sucks you into its world completely with the sheer force of its creativity. Available on PC, Mac and Linux for $9.95 (c.£12.70) now and $20 when the final version is released, it’s a truly impressive achievement. Read on to find out what all the fuss is about in our Minecraft review…
Pinning a genre on Minecraft is difficult, especially the single player mode. The sort of game it becomes depends on how you approach it. To some players, Minecraft is like a vast open-world Lego set letting you mine materials and cut down trees to create incredibly complex structures. Players have made creations as diverse as a model of The Rapture from Bioshock to a fully working computer – and even a 1:1 model of the Starship Enterprise, as you can see in the video below.
But Minecraft can also be a combat game – collect armour and weapons to battle the blocky zombies which swarm at nightfall – or simply about exploration. It sounds strange, but initially Minecraft can feel like a hipster Farmville.
You need to mine materials and collect resources before you really get started. Getting a grip of how you combine elements in the crafting menu and how to avoid coming to a sticky end when night falls can be a steep learning curve. Going through the tutorial first is a pretty good idea but there’s also plenty of Minecraft info online including a through Wiki to help if you get confused – the fanbase is large and active already.
Once you get the hang of crafting, Minecraft becomes fascinating. It’s a sandbox game in the true sense of the word. Its joy lies in the way it allows you to create almost anything you can think of if you have the patience and the tenacity to put it together. Combining elements from the world allows you to make tools, torches and building materials in a really clever way.
Because Minecraft gives you a limited number of lives in each game which you need to preserve, there’s always a sense of jeopardy. You can’t simply skip around the world building things and joyfully messing about in the rivers. If you don’t build an effective shelter, the monsters that emerge after dark will do you in. By the same token, you have to be careful when mining deep underground to avoid being drowned, eaten or simply trapped.
In some senses, this Minecraft review or any Minecraft review for that matter will be more subjective than you’d get with a normal game. The gameplay is intensely personal – you have so much control over how you choose to play and there’s no preset path to follow. It ties into an almost primal urge to build and explore as well as being strangely creepy when night falls.
Check out our Best PC games Top 5 now
Multiplayer adds another layer to the Minecraft experience and helps avoid the Second Life trap of being a vast world where you wander around listlessly hoping something interesting will happen (the fact that you don’t need to purchase land from a company that will then claim it still owns it also helps). There are lists of Minecraft servers to be found online. Hopping on to a server is as easy as entering the IP address but frustratingly many have white lists in place so you may have to search around to find one that will let you in without too much fuss.
Minecraft is well worth exploring but don’t go into it without the realisation that the game can be madly resource hungry, laggy or lock-up entirely at times. It truly is in alpha. For that reason we can’t in all conscience slap five stars on this Minecraft review – it’s not the finished product yet – but even in its slightly unreliable current form, it’s a brilliant game.