Game Review: Minecraft 1.0

You arrive on a deserted shoreline, penniless and alone. You must make a life in a hostile new land, with only the strength of your hands and the creativity of your imagination. You will explore a region of vast contrast with endless forests, inhospitable deserts, enormous mountain ranges, and hazardous underground caverns. You must survive the ravages of the many things that go bump in the night. This is the world of Minecraft, a world where truly anything is possible.

After a seemingly-endless beta period, the full version of Minecraft has been released at last. This independent game, released by Swedish-based Mojang AB, is the vision of a man known by his online pseudonym of Notch, and its brilliance is its simplicity. A sandbox game, Minecraft is an open world with no storyline or sequence of quests. It exists simply as an unlimited construction platform.

Minecraft is well-known for its simplistic, pixelated graphics and cubic geometry as well as its infamous monsters. These hostile neighbors – the giant spiders, zombies, skeleton archers, otherworldly Endermen, and deadly Creepers – add excitement and danger to the game. The Creeper, a bizarre, reptile-like creature with an odd knack for suicide bombing, is recognizable to many who have never even played the game. Updates over the past several months have added many new elements, such as more complex cave systems, new enemies, and alternate dimensions.

The game is playable in three modes.The first, Creative mode, is the original form of the game and is the purest form of a sandbox game that gives the player invincibility and unlimited resources. Survival mode is the more popular of the three versions, as the player must build from the ground up, slowly improving his situation while battling against the monsters. The third and newest setting is the Hardcore mode, a form of Survival where the difficulty is locked on the Hard setting and the player is given only one life. Once the player dies, their game is deleted and they must start from the beginning with a new world.

The game itself is limitless. The surface world will generate new areas as the player explores, and its theoretical maximum size is eight times that of the surface of the Earth. Players who tire of the surface can build a portal to the lava-filled dimension of Nether, a hazardous hellscape filled with fireball-shooting Ghasts and precipitous drops. The newly-added dimension, The End, can be accessed by a player who has mastered the other two dimensions and vanquished enough of their inhabitants. Although it is a finite-sized single platform, The End contains the only victory condition in Minecraft. Any player who can slay the Enderdragon, a fearsome flying beast with twenty times the player’s hit points, will reach the game’s credit sequence and a final message from its creators. A person who completes this task on Hardcore mode would truly be the Master of Minecraft.

Multiplayer servers are available as well, and large Minecraft communities have sprouted across the Internet. YouTube is littered with video tours of Minecraft masterpieces, including a 1:1 scale model of the Starship Enterprise, as well as the always-entertaining videos of large quantities of exploding TNT.

Even without the questing and exploring of other popular games, Minecraft is an excellent game whose time-wasting potential, on a scale of Solitaire to Skyrim, comes in at a solid Super Smash Bros. Players who tire of construction can tinker with the effects of redstone, which can be used to build electrical circuits for trapdoors and hidden passages, among other uses. One Minecrafter has actually constructed a working calculator entirely within the game. A computer within a computer cannot be far off; perhaps it will even be able to play Minecraft!

The point is, this game is essentially limitless, and there is always something else to do. Remember, never dig straight down, punch trees to get wood, and the creeper is always right behind you. Craft on!

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