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Ok so I'm not going to pretend I play this lots, I'm writing this from a parents review point of view.
When I first heard of minecraft quite a few years ago I had all these ideas or horrible mines and that it must be a horrible game and it was a definite no when the kids kept asking!
Then a friend of mine said 'oh no it's nothing like that and explained'. So a few years ago my kids first had minecraft free version on their phones and then one of them had it on their laptop and just recently we were given (very grateful) an xbox with minecraft on.
What is it?
Like I say there will be far more techi's who can explain things much better than me but from a parents point of view, it's a virtual world with nothing in it to start with. The little character Steve can then go along and mine stone or chop wood to build anything they wish. Within the world are animals such as sheep and cows. There are a couple of types of worlds (and probably more!) one is surivival, this is where Steve has to kill sheep to eat them to stay alive (you don't see him eat them!), he has to chop down wood himself to make houses and it takes some time. He also has to regularly go to sleep in bed to have energy to carry on! the other world is creative that's where the survival bit is turned off, so there are automatically plenty of bricks, wood etc and children can just have fun building.
So for children the creative is probably the best and that's why I write this review as I think it's quite creative, I have watched my girls make some amazing buildings and they've given me a grand tour inside their 'dream house' I have found girls like this world as much as boys. The girls have made lovely grand mansions with rivers and waterfalls. With glass conservatories and amazing little gardens which can all be made on minecraft.
They have also made underground dungeons with libraries and furniture. What I also like is that my autistic daughter has learnt if you have a wooden house and you light a fire in it - it burns down, a few tears later and she's learnt a good lesson in a virtual world! She has also learnt that if you have a lake outside your house and you punch a hole in the wall the water will flood your house!!
The computer game is made up of blocks, water blocks, ice blocks, stone blocks and wood blocks. If you're really clever you can make amazing buildings if you're like me I got one row of bricks down and a couple of windows while my daughter next to me had built a mansion!
It is possible on the xbox for two to play next to each other in the same world which is quite nice, so both the girls can be building a building and passing by each other!
The girls have amazing fun on this and their creativity has impressed me. It helps with their architecture skills. Quite often we will be out and about visiting a castle or just seeing some kind of structure and the girls will say 'ooo I'm going to build that on minecraft'
There are different types of skins and if you are connected via the internet you can connect with other players around the world - for children that's a little more concerning but you can set it up with passwords and they only play those people they know.
So from a parents point of view it's actually quite a creative game that's not full of rubbish!
It costs around £14 to £15
With new skin packs and building blocks coming out regularly Minecraft Xbox360 is a great update game. With Countless possibilities you could never get bored. Use survival mode to gather resources and build up anything from a small shack to your own kingdom or use the creative mode to build with unlimited resources. with a choice of difficulty players can either have mobs (bad guys) on or off depending on how you want to play! You can share photos of your creations on Facebook or twitter and with an online or split screen multiplier option you can enjoy this game with friends. In a new update minecraft has been given somewhat of a storyline. For all those who feel as though the game lacks direction, there is not an Enderportal taking the player/s to the End where they fight the Enderdragon.
If i had to give a disadvantage it would have to be the 360 version compared to the PC version. The PC version receives updates months before the Xbox 360 version, meaning no matter what i always feel one step behind, not to mention there are certain aspects of the PC version that 4J (the creators of minecraft) have informed will never be released on the xbox 360 version.
I first started playing Minecraft on the PC when it first came out and I absolutely loved it! The whole concept of starting out with nothing and using natural resources to get by really appealed to me, as who wouldn't love to see how much they could get done with the bear basics?
When I found out it had then gone onto the xbox I must admit I was a bit dubious, not really thinking how they could compete with the overall experience of PC. However, I will hold my hands up and admit defeat as it is still the game I continue to play on the xbox. The controls are far easier to use, and the different features added makes the game more modernized and interesting. Also the updates for the game are so much more quicker with an easier understanding. If your a game lover like me you have to give this a try and you will be engulfed for hours!!
As a parent one of my concerns when buying a game is how long the game will last. I think we've all had games the children beat in a few days and then they are finished with the game. The beauty of Minecraft is that it never ends. You can keep building, fighting and creating forever. This review is specific to the Minecraft X-box 360 version, but most of the information will be relevant to the other versions as well.
Minecraft is available in 4 formats:
Minecraft for PC - the original and most extensive of the Minecraft Games
Minecraft Pocket App - android or apple - a mini version - good but not as detailed as the full game.
Minecraft for X-box 360 - avialbe as a download or on disk - we bought the disk.
Minecraft for PS3 - the only one of the Minecraft family we do not own - available only as a download.
MINECRAFT IN GENERAL:
Minecraft is referred to as sandbox game. This means that in many ways - you create the game you will play yourself. My son's Minecraft world will be completely different from any other players world. There are some preset features, such as enemies, and other mobs, or characters, but you build your own word, limited only by imagination. The world and the characters look quite a bit like lego, so in a sense this is like having a giant virtual Lego set - but you never run out of bricks.
TWO WAYS TO PLAY:
Minecraft has two forms of play. In creative you can build anything you like - without zombies trying to kill you or kick your door in. You can not farm though, or breed animals. My youngest son, age 5 loves Creative mode, but I find it boring after awhile. You already have everything you need. You don't need to mine for materials or search. You just build. It is a good place to develop your building skills though without worrying about using up items you may need or getting eaten.
Survival mode is far more challenging, but you do have some choice of difficulty. The X-box version has beginner, easy, medium, and hard core. The computer version has 3 levels of play. As far as I know the app has only one difficulty level, and I have looked for an easier level. In survival mode you spawn in one of several different Minecraft biomes. You have no choice of which biome you start in, and if you don't like it - too bad. Every time you die you come back in the same place. You arrive in your new home with nothing. You will have to fashion tools, build a shelter and find food. Oh and you only have 10 minutes before night falls. Minecraft world is a lovely place when the sun shines - but do be afraid of the dark. The dark brings monsters. Please note some killing of animals is required in this mode as well. My oldest doesn't mind but I caught the youngest asking his brother to do the killing for him with a sheep. They don't mind killing zombies. On the plus side though, you can domesticate animals as well. Instead of killing a wolf - why not tame him?
Minecraft looks like a giant lego world. If you are happy playing a game where everything looks like it is made of blocks, you'll have no problem with this game. If you want true to life CGI though, this won't be your game.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:
This can be played as a split screen two player game. Both characters must play in the same world but finding each other is difficult. My sons often build a tower for the other to try to find. You can bring a second player into your own worlds built in single player. Each player must collect their own supplies, but the person who created the world ( my oldest) can give supplies to the other player if he wishes by discarding it in front of him. The boys usually build a fort and fight the zombies together, but my oldest does like to play on his own a lot as well, hence the need to buy a second game.
My sons had never played Minecraft before Christmas. Since then they have done little else. They are truly obsessed by this new world. The X-box 360 game was bought for my 8 year old, but when my youngest always wanted to play too, I bought the app and then the full PC game. I'm stuck typing this on the boys computer now as I downloaded the game onto mine. They have had hours of play, my youngest makes stories to go with it, and I feel that this is a highly creative game, unlike most video games where you just shoot or slash. Don't get me wrong, there is violence in the survival mode, but it is only a small part of the game. I also feel there is some educational value in this as they learn to build an entire civilisation. Furthermore, this book has encouraged quite a lot of reading as well as they search for tips online and read the books I have bought on this. We currently have 2 books and another on the way. Finally there is opportunity for a social aspect to this game. My son does not have X-box live so he can not play this game online. They may decide to play the computer version online at some point, but have not done so yet. As a game for the children - I am delighted with my purchase of this game. I paid £12 for this ( Warehouse deals) but it is only £12.99 full price. I believe the X-box download would be less. The only drawback to this is that my son believes the computer game has some mobs ( other characters) which his X-box game does not. It might simply be that he hasn't found these items on x-box yet though. As for playing the game myself - the app may not have all the things, but I prefer the app. I'd rather play this on the tablet than a console, but that is just my preference.
MY SONS' OPINION:
This is the best video game I have ever played. I like making everything, especially portals and I like all the different worlds and places and I can go. The portals my favourite part because they take you to the Nether and the End which are two completely different worlds. The End has a huge dragon which was really cool. I like this game because I can keep changing things in it so it never gets old and boring.
Minecraft for X-box 360 is the second best video game ever. The only game better is Minecraft for computer. I really love this game. It is more fun than any other game I have. I like that it looks lego, because I like lego too. I like the End and the big dragon but I wish you could tame the dragon instead of killing it. Mostly I like to play creative though. I just like to make houses for my guy and all the animals. I really like having animals too.
Minecraft didn't look like my kind of game, I used to watch my boyfriend play it at his house and I never seen the appeal personally. The graphics looked rubbish and it just looked boring. My boyfriend tried to persuade me to buy it but at 1600 Microsoft points from the Xbox arcade (it wasn't released on disc until recently) I definitely didn't want to buy it. He went ahead and bought it for me and I'm glad he did now.
There is no kind of storyline, or anything set in stone in which you have to do, the world is totally open for you to carry on and do whatever you like. You can dig down and start mining to come across dungeons, or chop wood and start crafting your own personal kingdoms. It really is up to the individual to do whatever they fancy.
The game is made from millions of blocks, blocks of water, sand, dirt, stone, diamond, loads of different materials, these can all be mined then made into whatever you fancy.
~*~ Beginning the game ~*~
The game starts by choosing whether you want to start a new game, play the tutorial or continue a saved game. When you start a new game you can choose whether or not you want creative mode or survival mode.
Creative mode is when you can make whatever you like, all of the items and materials are already crafted so you don't have to waste time mining or chopping wood to get the materials you require. Creative mode also allows you to fly so that you don't have to worry about putting scaffolding (dirt in my case) around big building to work on them.
Survival mode comes in a variety of difficulties; this mode has enemies such as creepers, skeletons, zombies and spiders that come after you when it's dark. During the daytime it's advised that you build a structure ready so that you can be safe when night time comes. There are a few different difficulties, I tried hard once but it was a total disaster so I haven't tried it since. If I do play survival it tends to be on the medium difficulty.
Each time you start a new game, the map is totally different and made up of different amounts of different terrains. Nearly all worlds contain a desert area, snowy area and normal grassy terrain. Some have huge mountains and others are relatively flat.
~*~ Mining and crafting ~*~
Every block that makes up each world can be mined and used to craft something different. You start off with no tools on survival mode but after chopping down a few trees you will have enough wood to craft some wooden tools such as pickaxes, axes and swords and it makes the mining process quicker. You can craft a few of the essential materials without a crafting table but to get the most amount of items available to craft you need to craft one by using wood again. This opens up the possibilities, you can make iron tools if you have managed to mine some iron. A furnace is another essential item needed if you want to cook food and create other items, by burning two lots of wood you will make charcoal which is great to use as a fuel in the furnace if you haven't come across any coal whilst mining.
If you mine down, you will find many different crevices and caves, this is where a lot of the enemies spawn as it is dark and deserted. However, you have to mine downwards if you want to get any of the nice materials such as diamond or gold as they can only be found right down towards the bottom of the world. You'll also find lava lakes and waterfalls, lava burns so be careful near this. When playing survival mode, I often found myself mining down and exploring different caves I come across and then I often got lost trying to find my way out to where I came from so remembering the way you came is always a good idea, I tend to mark my way with torches so I easily find my way out now.
~*~ Building ~*~
I tend to prefer playing on creative mode now and building masterpieces. I find building is the right way for me to personally play my game. My boyfriend prefers survival and exploring different caves, this shows how different people can do whatever they fancy! I find it easier building on creative mode as all the materials you need are already there for you to use, it takes a much longer time preparing materials on survival mode and you don't have to worry about being attacked in the night either.
The amount of things you can build are really down to your own imagination. I've created a little village of my own focussing more on the interior of the houses rather than the exterior. Over the other side of the map I'm working on a huge castle and have plans for a dock and lighthouse. My friend has made an underwater house and has a huge tree house taking up a large chunk of her map.
~*~ Multiplayer ~*~
Multiplayer is available to play on Minecraft, me and my boyfriend often play split screen while he is here and we often join games with our friends at the same time. I've found that occasionally, if a few of us are playing together, some of the scenery takes a while to load but apart from that, I haven't encountered any problems (apart from one friend blowing up a side of my castle grr!!).
When you begin a game you can choose whether or not it's an invite only party, I never had this ticked before but after one of my friends demolishing a side of my castle, I always have this ticked so that friends I want to play with can be invited and idiots I don't want to play with have to watch their friends list to see us all playing without him!
~*~ Soundtrack and graphics ~*~
I touched on the graphics at the start, they are pretty rubbish if I'm honest. They are blocky and quite old looking, definitely none of this slime line, lovely visuals you get with new games. However, although it's quite old looking I think it would lack its appeal if it was any different.
The soundtrack is made of a few different tunes played in the background. These can be quite annoying if you are new to the game but you soon get used to them and they tend to just get ignored once you are engrossed in the game play. They are quite gentle on the ear and relaxing. My boyfriend quite often falls asleep if we are playing together in the evening!
~*~ Achievements ~*~
As with all Xbox 360 games, there are achievements you can unlock by doing different things in the game. A total of 400 gamer points can be achieved with 20 different achievements. My boyfriend, the Minecraft addict, has completed all achievements and I've only got one left to get. The first few achievements are really easy to get by crafting some simple tools but some are really hard to get by riding a mine cart for a long distance and riding a pig off the side of a cliff.
You can also unlock different things for your Xbox avatar. By cooking a piece of pork into a pork chop, you unlock a t-shirt and if you kill 10 creepers with arrows you unlock a creeper hat. There are a few different unlockable items should you wish to hunt for them.
~*~ Overall ~*~
If you are looking for a visually stunning game, this definitely isn't for you. I was doubtful whether or not I would like it after seeing my boyfriend play it but I'm glad he bought it for me as it is a great way to pass time. I turn it on to play for half an hour then realise I've been building for a few hours and my evening is wasted! The game is pretty simple but is fantastic at the same time. There is no storyline so you can carry on and do exactly what you want to do. I would definitely recommend it if you like building games.