Minecraft 1.0 Review — A Perfect 10?
The first time I played Minecraft, it was a fledgling alpha release buried in indie game obscurity. A friend of mine sent me a link and told me to try out this game he’d been playing, but offered no details on what the game entailed. Loading in, I found myself in an awful-looking grassy field dotted with trees. I walked around, unsure of what to do, until I realized I could destroy “blocks” of terrain. Remembering the game was named “Minecraft,” I dug a hole straight downward as deep as I could — until I fell into lava and died.
I didn’t touch the game again for two years.
Minecraft: PC (Reviewed)
Released: November 18, 2011
Through its beta phases, Minecraft rose in popularity until it was officially released last Friday, November 18. Content has been continuously added over the years, and the game will continue to evolve into the future.
If I had to sum up Minecraft in one word, it would be “Lego.” A sandbox game in the truest sense of the term, Minecraft, at its heart, is a digital version of our favorite toy blocks. You control a character who inhabits a world built of different colored cubes, and can rearrange those cubes to your liking. But instead of yellow, white, and red, your blocks are sand, stone, and dirt — components of an actual world with generally plausible geographical features like mountains, caves, and lakes.
But there’s much more to Minecraft than rearranging blocks. It’s at once the simplest and most complex game you can play, depending on your choice of how deep to delve into its intricacies. The operative word here is “choice” — like any good sandbox, Minecraft presents a buffet table of activities; which activities you gorge on, which you nibble at, and which you avoid like the salad bar is entirely up to you.
As its name suggests, Minecraft allows you to mine, harvest, and gather resources, then use them to craft, build, and cultivate. The game’s item cycle goes full circle: build tools to gather resources; use resources to build better tools. While you can content yourself to simply move blocks around and build a Lego castle, the game’s crafting system is deep and allows for the creation of complex structures like doors, windows, fences, chests, levers, and even a primitive form of circuitry that can trigger moving pistons and allow for the creation of some remarkable inventions.
Yet, for all its depth, Minecraft is bashful. While the controls and interface are sleek and intuitive, no in-game direction is offered. Without resorting to the Minecraft wiki, there’s a staggering amount of content players can miss out on simply because they don’t know it exists. For instance, Minecraft does have an ending, of sorts — you reach it by killing a dragon in an alternate dimension accessible through a portal you must craft. But there’s no way you’d know any of that without some Google research.