Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition is now available on Xbox LIVE Marketplace for 1600 points, and it’s even more dangerous to your productivity than the original. Minecraft + sitting back in a comfortable chair with a controller in your hand = hours that pass by in no time.
As with the PC original, Minecraft is a game of building. You navigate its blocky world digging, picking, axing, and swording various objects, animals, and terrain features to get the building blocks, and then build your home, craft your tools, and equip your character. Just creating and decorating your home can be a strangely satisfying experience, building it from various blocks as if you were in a first-person LEGO set.
But if your difficulty level is set to anything above the basic Peaceful setting, that home will also be necessary to keep you alive. Because while the daytime is yours to build in, the nighttime belongs to Creepers, giant spiders, and a host of other deadly creatures. At first you’ll want to stay safely indoors, where you can sleep the night away so that it will pass in seconds and you can get back to exploring and building. But once you’ve built up your character’s inventory a bit, you can equip it with armor, build swords and bows, and take the fight to the monsters.
Minecraft is tons of fun as a solo endeavor, but it’s even better when played with friends. With a group you can build bigger and faster, and you can always have a bit of friendly competition as well. (Though be careful who you let in – your “friends” can also go Godzilla all over your awesome construction. If this happens, though, remember you can always revert to your saved game.) Half the fun is just dropping into a friend’s world and seeing what they’ve built. I dropped into a friend’s game and he and a team of helpers had not only created an elaborate, multi-story castle, but also a gigantic glass monument, portals to a mine in the Netherworld, and a hot-tub room.
The Xbox 360 version adds a few welcome touches not found on the PC original. There’s four-way split-screen on the same console, and you can have multiple players connected via split-screen and Xbox LIVE simultaneously. There’s a new tutorial mode that’s a great introduction to crafting, and the crafting interface itself has been reworked. On the PC version, successful Minecraft players typically have the game open in one window and the Minecraft Wiki website open in another, in order to determine crafting formulas. The Xbox 360 version makes this easy with a new crafting interface that shows you exactly what you need to build each item. You’ll still have to find the right materials, but now you can spend less time searching the web and more time building.
If you ever liked LEGOs, or if you spent as much time in Populous or From Dust just modifying terrain as you did working on mission objectives, you’ll love Minecraft. Whether you want to rid the world of monsters or just enjoy a Zen building experience, Minecraft provides hundreds of hours of creative, open-ended fun. And parents: Try it with your kids. It’s amazing how quickly even the littlest ones jump into the game and start building.