The Alien Critic Reviews...
The Alien CriticReviews...

TAC Reviews...Minecraft

 

Originally a PC game, Minecraft proved to be so popular with computer nerds that it received a console release coming out on the X-Box 360 and PS3, since then it has also come out on the PS4 and Xbox One.

 

Minecraft Boxart

 

In the week since her creation Abbie has basically been watching YouTube fairly extensively, so going into Minecraft she had a good idea of what to do, and how the game works. Now if you’ve been living in a cave for the last few years and you don’t know what Minecraft is then permit me to explain.

 

Minecraft is essentially a building game that has a day and night cycle in which monsters like zombies and skeletons appear after the sun goes down. There are various other things that exist in the sandbox map but everything in the game is distinctly low textured, everything is constructed with right angles, you know what it’ll be easier if I show you a screen shot…

 

 

Get the picture??

 

In Minecraft there isn’t really a story and so I think I’ll start off by explaining my first experience, and like I said because Abbie was familiar with the game she was the one telling me how to play.

 

So, we created our map and were set lose into a block world, we started off together but we quickly got separated and I was set upon by a green cube with a face that bounced lazily after me, Abbie informed me that it was a “Slime” and it would kill me if I didn’t run from it. I managed to flee to higher ground and Abbie told me that if I hit a tree it would break giving me wood that I could use to build other things. I did as she instructed and started pounding away at trees, and dirt as more and more blocks were added to my inventory. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice a slime that was steadily approaching and before I could get away I was killed. I respawned but by this time Abbie was some way away and had started building a structure to keep her safe from the monsters. The sun was setting and she urged me to find somewhere to hide before the zombies, skeletons and spiders appeared. I attempted to do this as she frantically warned me about the monsters baring down on my position, I scrambled to build a wall to separate me from a suicide shrub but it got too close, blew up, and that was the end of that life.

 

I respawned once more, still at night, and decided that the best course of action was to bury myself in the earth crying until dawn broke. The Slimes were surrounding my hole and Abbie told me that they would not go even after dawn broke, so I picked a direction and started digging. I quickly broke through to the shore line of the marshland that was the respawn location but the slimes quickly amassed once again so I dug in a different direction and popped out.

 

With few other options I did the logical thing and started digging out an underground home for myself, the zombies and monsters wouldn’t be able to get in if I sealed the entrance at night, so that is what I decided to do. I kept a single hole open in the ceiling so I’d be able to tell when it was day and night.

 

Meanwhile Abbie had built a little above ground hut in a nearby forest, but she had no means of sustenance and after abandoning me to start a life of her own, decided to come and find me as my hole was quickly becoming an underground room. Unfortunately she was killed as she fell out of her hut and hit the ground, she too respawned and came to find me as I had started digging my hole near to the spawn location.

 

By the time she found me she had a suicide shrub (which look like a penis if you drew it with graph paper) on her tail. She dropped through my skylight and the shrub came with her. It detonated but fortunately neither Abbie nor I was caught in its radius. It did leave quite a big hole in the room but we promptly filled it in and continued establishing a safe home for ourselves

 

Four hours later…

 

By the time we called it a night on the game we had a huge basement area, complete with a utility room with chests, crafting tables and furnaces. Abbie had made us beds that we could sleep in to skip the dangerous night time in if we wanted to, there were two exits, protected by doors that lead outside. Whilst Abbie had been doing this I had been building upwards out of the earth to create a two story house that had a sheep pen on the ground level, and farm land that we could use to feed ourselves. The monsters were scratching at our doors but as we ended the game that night we were safe in the knowledge that we had an impenetrable home from which we could base our further exploration of the surrounding area.

 

The next time we loaded up Abbie decided to bury herself into the earth to search for more resources whilst I decided to build a massive bridge that would take us out of the swamp area that we had built our home in. Several hours later the bridge was constructed and we are able to reach a forest not too far away, we even spied Abbie’s hut, abandoned since she had left it after coming to find me.

 

The next time I loaded the game Abbie had been playing it on her own after I’d spent most of the day in the engine room, resetting and purging the ship’s reactor core. By the time I returned she had built a small tree-top hut but had also turned off the monsters and had gone exploring. I joined the game only to find myself in a village miles from home and with no idea how to get back. I had no map but Abbie and I had previously had an incident of Abbie getting lost and had determined that from our bridge the sun would set, so if we headed East, eventually we’d get home, this was the plan but it didn’t exactly turn out well.

 

With the monsters turned off I was able to travel night and day, so after dismantling everything in the village that might be of use to me, I set off into the wilderness. Abbie entered the game and spawned at our house, she had a map but I was not even on it, and after walking in one direction for half a hour I was still not on it. I travelled day and night but fell into a cave, was killed, and lost all of the stuff in my inventory…needless to say I was a tad annoyed, however, I respawned back at the house. I then decided that our mud-hut home was safe and secure but it was too low down in the marshland so we couldn’t see it from a distance.

 

There were some mountains nearby and I decided that what we really needed was a huge fortress built on top of it, a fortress that could be seen for miles around, that we could use to guide ourselves back home if we went exploring.

 

A few hours later, I had cut the top off the mountain, laid down a floor, and dug a flight of stairs through the heart of the mountain that led back to the ground. Abbie had gotten bored by this time and abandoned the game. I wanted to see my task through and ended the game having built a tunnel whose entrance was visible from our stone bridge. However, the tunnel could spawn monsters as it was dark, so I have resigned myself that I will need to build another high bridge to the mountain in order to safely move about during the day and the more dangerous night.

 

So, as of, I dunno, eight or nine hours of game play, we have a large mud-hut with inbuilt farm and utility room, a bridge that leads to the nearest forest that is high enough to keep us out of range of the monsters, and the beginnings of a mountain top fortress…and we have barely scratched the surface of the map we’re in.

 

The first thing that you have to take into account when you play Minecraft is that everything will take ages, and time will slip past virtually unnoticed. There is no tutorial so if Abbie hadn’t known what she was doing, I have no idea how I would have figured out what to do in this game and would have probably quit out of frustration. There is a potentially steep learning curve as the monsters aren’t introduced a few nights into the game, the moment the darkness draws in, the creatures of the night are out in force. Like I said we spent four hours setting up our first home and barely noticed where the time had gone.

 

Within “Chrabbey Land” (that is our map) certain rules, like gravity don’t really matter in certain instances, when I was building the bridge it was high enough that if we fell off we took a severe hit to our health, and had to lay it one brick at a time. The thing is that it didn’t need support struts or anything to keep it from collapsing, so I ended up with a huge bridge that was only attached at one end to the top floor of our marsh-house and hadn’t collapsed. You can chop down trees leaving their leaves hovering unsupported in mid-air. This does make construction easier as you don’t have to worry about physics when building your epic creations.

 

One of the biggest problems with the game is the sheer size of the map, and like I said it is incredibly easy to get very, very lost. Apparently it is possible to build a compass but thus far we haven’t done that. The world looks so similar that you have no idea if you are going closer to home or getting further away. Draw distance is really short so you cannot climb to the top of the nearest mountain and scan the horizon in the hopes of glimpsing home. Plus, if you die you lose everything in your inventory if you cannot recover it within five minutes of your death, I am still (several days later as of time of writing) still annoyed that everything I stole from the village is lying at the bottom of a cave somewhere because I couldn’t find my way home.

 

Recently Abbie has set the game in Peaceful Mode which turns off the monsters so the world is safe day and night, the problem with doing this was that part of the fun was exploring the world when monsters appeared after dark. A couple of times I dug myself a hole to hide in when I was caught too far away from home as the sun set, without the monsters there is no threat, if there is not threat, what is the point?? Abbie has said there is Creative Mode which will give you all the resources you want so you can build epic structures but again if the game is just giving you everything then what is the point of playing??

 

To me it is like those people who spend actual money to buy money in GTA Online, part of the point is playing the game to get money in order to buy the best stuff within the game world. If you can just use real money to get anything you want in the game then what is the purpose of playing at all??

 

As far as Minecraft goes you need to give yourself a project, I am happy with the Marsh-house and the little tree house, now I am working on my mountain top fortress, and building another bridge to connect our three homes together. Once I've built our epic mountain mansion, complete with a lighthouse, I am hoping that we can be able to go exploring and find our way home again, as apparently there is a lot more to this game than just building stuff, but as of the time of this review I haven’t found much else to do

 

Abbie has swiftly gotten bored of this game but to me it seems to be a decent game to play when you haven’t got much to do, it basically just keeps going, there are no other players being dicks so we aren’t going to return to find our mansion destroyed. How long I will keep playing I don’t honestly know, perhaps once I have finished my fortress and connecting bridge I will also tire of the game. Ultimately I have enjoyed the time I have spent in the game so I am giving it a Thumbs Up, be warned though, if you go into it not knowing what you’re doing, you will die, a lot.

 

 

7/10 – The game is fun, but the fun depends on how you want to play it, if you want to go off exploring and hiding in the dirt at night then feel free, and if you want to build a multi-storey hotel complete with a pool, then mine the resources, and crack on.

 

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© Chris Sharman