Minecraft 1.0 Review — A Perfect 10?
“Wait, what was that about a dragon? I thought you said this was Lego Land, not Skyrim.”
That’s right; Minecraft has its own fauna of creatures, known as “mobs,” that roam the countryside and lurk in caves. Idyllic days yield to haunted nights in the game’s 20-minute day/night cycle: 10 minutes of peace followed by 10 minutes of terror.
When the sun is up, you’ll be treated to sheep and chickens and other docile animals that you can shear, eat, and breed. But come sunset, you’d best seek shelter, because zombies, skeletons, and Minecraft’s infamous “creepers” all want a piece of you. Haven’t heard of creepers? These green monsters silently creep up on you and then explode, destroying blocks in their blast radius, leaving a crater in the ground, and potentially killing you.
Death in Minecraft can be a major setback: you drop everything you’re carrying and respawn at your original spawn point, or a bed — you’ll want to craft one of those, by the way, because they allow you to skip the night sequence altogether. Your first order of business is thus to build a house to shelter you from hostile mobs and to stash your excess gear. Then you can start fighting back by crafting weapons and armor.
Minecraft has a good variety in mobs, but its selection of weapons and armor is disappointingly small and mundane. I affectionately called Terraria a 2D version of Minecraft with added action-RPG elements. Intentionally or coincidentally, Minecraft seems to have been returning the favor by borrowing ideas from Terraria — such as the addition of a “boss monster” — and given the direction Minecraft is taking to include more action-RPG elements, I’m surprised the developers didn’t find inspiration in Terraria’s varied an incredibly fun arsenal of weapons and armor.
As it stands, Minecraft’s combat isn’t particularly engaging. Your choice of weapons is limited to a sword and a bow, leading to repetitive combat. An enchantment system allows for some variety in your weapons and armor, but ultimately, a sword is still a sword, whether it lights mobs on fire or knocks them back.
At this point, you may be saying, “But the point of Minecraft isn’t to kill monsters!” To which I reply, for a game that isn’t about slaying monsters, there’s an awful lot of monster-slaying. If someone straps a crappy radio to a quality lawnmower, a critic would still need to comment on the quality of the radio, because the manufacturer chose to include it in the product.
If you’re tempted to skip combat entirely, then you can play Minecraft’s “Creative Mode,” which takes away all the survival and resource management aspects of the game and lets you build to your heart’s content with an unlimited supply of blocks. On the other end of the spectrum, a Hardcore mode gives you only one life: death is permanent.
Apart from monsters to kill and animals to tend to, there are also NPCs villagers that walk around and… do nothing. They’re current function in the game is entirely aesthetic, when they could be put to use dolling out advice to players or serving as vendors. While I’m sure some functionality will eventually be added to Villagers, I can only evaluate the game in its present state.