mrneoshredder's Minecraft (PC) review

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Mess of a Game, Great Toybox

Minecraft 1.0 is out people, you know what that means! Time for me to shit it all over it in this review!!! No, but really, most of these reviews for Minecraft that I have seen on every review sites are giving it insane scores of 9/10's and 10/10's. Now I know you may not want to hear this, but Minecraft, as a game, does not deserve these scores. Let me explain. Minecraft is fun, there's no denying that, it's really fun, but basically as a toy box and not a game. However it is a game and is marketed as a game, so I will review it as such.

You see, Minecraft's main appeal, is that you can build anything you want, change the environment, push blocks with pistons, create a stone castle with a lava moat, enter the nether and fight hellish creatures, build a house, breed animals, and that's great! However, Minecraft as a game, sucks. A game needs good game-play mechanics, challenge, and reward for accomplishing said challenge, Minecraft has none of this. Now, I'm getting the feeling that I started this review out on a bad note, and most of you out there are probably ready to tear my heart out and eat it, so I'm going to say that I personally love Minecraft, but not as a game, as a giant playground. By the end of this review, I'm pretty sure you'll have a good idea of where I'm coming from.

Now, first off to address the presentation. It's fucking ugly. I know that the block style has a certain charm to it, but that charm you see, is called "programming graphics." They're basically just a place holder for the real graphics when the game gets released, only problem is, the game already is released in the full 1.0 version. Notch wanted to hire an artist to replicate a retro style for Minecraft, however, he never found one, so he just released the full version with the placeholder graphics, and before you say anything, no, flat, square models with textures is not retro, and it is not an art-style. I can see how there would be a certain charm to this art style, however it does not excuse this.

Now, onto the other aspects of the game. How bout that crafting? It's like half of Minecraft right? Well here's the thing, it sucks. There are absolutely no recipes, instructions, blueprints, anything telling you how to craft or use anything. Even the Minecraft CLONES got that right! I understand you can get all you need from just looking at the Wiki, but think about what this game would be like if you didn't have Internet access. It would be terrible! You wouldn't remember how to craft anything. I understand you using the Wiki for like a hint or something, but not one of the main aspects of the game that you absolutely need to do in order to progress! Speaking of progression, there pretty much is none. I know that Notch added an Enderdragon boss at the end, but this boss fight is pointless, there's no reward to it other than an End Credits screen, boy do I feel good. Going through all that and receiving absolutely nothing, not a new weapon, or piece of armor, metal, material, nothing other than experience, but that's only used for enchanting weapons and armor. Oh yeah, thanks for not even letting us choose which enchantment we get, thank you so much Notch for writing the enchantments in some bullshit language, and just making me take a blind ass guess as to which enchantment I'm going to get. I really want to get all that experience just to gamble with it on enchantments I probably don't even really need. In fact the only form of progression, is basically how good you're gear is, and how big and awesome your virtual house is.

One of these aspects of progression however, is completely useless, the gear progression, as these enemies are so easy, the only reason you'll need gear is out of fear on will get the drop on you. In fact, getting the drop on you is pretty much the only thing that makes the enemies challenging, they do nothing else. There is literally no path-finding for any enemy in the game, if an enemy is chasing after you, he'll just walk in a straight line. If there is a wall in between you and the enemy, he will jump. If that doesn't work, he'll do absolutely nothing else. The AI in these enemies, are terrible, Diakatana levels of bad, you could defeat every enemy by just digging a three block wide hole in between you and him. The enemy will make no attempt to go around it, or jump over it, no path-finding whatsoever. Now, the combat in Minecraft is simple and boring. Basically, you swing at an enemy, they get knocked back, an enemy hits you, you get knocked back. Repeat until one of you dies. There are no weapons other than the sword and bow, two weapons, that's all ya got.

The bow can be charged up for a more powerful shot, and with the sword you can block, and that's all you need to know. There are no techniques, no other weapons, no special attacks other than the bow charge, it's not like the enemies are going to make the combat any more fun, all they do is walk in a straight line. In fact, if you get attacked the enemies preform no attack animation, when they die, they just fall over preforming no animation, just fall on their side and disappear. You can get armor, but that only decreases how much damage you take, and you can craft yourself a better sword, but that only increases the damage it does, nothing else. The only enemy that provides some strategy, is the Enderman, which teleports behind you after you get close to him, however still, no pathfinding whatsoever, just walk in a straight line. The friendly AI for tamed wolves is just as bad, they can't follow you worth a shit, because guess how the do it? Well, in a straight goddamn line. However, those two aren't the worst in the game, no, the worst are the NPC villagers. You see, when you're traveling around Minecraft, you'll happen upon several NPC villages, filled with NPC villagers. You wanna know what they do? Abso-fucking-lutely nothing. If you attack an NPC, they won't react. If you attack an NPC, other NPC's wont react. If you take apart his house, he won't react. If you right click him, he won't react. If an NPC encounters a monster, they won't react, neither will the monster. Did I mention nothing in this huge, randomly generated world reacts to each other at all? The villagers can't even open the doors to their own houses. Now let me remind you, this is the full version. Not a beta, the full released version.

Now, the hunger meter and regenerating health. It works like this, if you're hunger bar is full, you'll regenerate health, eat food to keep you're hunger bar full, if it's empty, you'll lose health. Pretty simple right? The game also features poison food, such as zombie flesh, if you eat these, you'll gain a couple of hunger points, but lose twice as many. However, if you have a whole bunch of these and keep eating them, you'll gain hunger points, since the number of hunger points you lose by eating these does not stack. This is completely pointless, why would you put in a poison food if I can get the same effect from regular food if I just eat a whole bunch of them, that makes no sense at all.

Now, to appeal to the "game" side of Minecraft....y'know, cause it IS a game. Notch added a brewing system to brew potions with, and an enchantment system to enchant weapons and armor with. As I've already mentioned how dumb the enchantment system is, I'll move onto the brewing system. It is actually pretty good, you can create a variety of potions that heal, make you faster, stronger, less hungry, more durable, also you can make splash potions, that you can throw at enemies, along with stuff like poison, slow down potions, fire, and a lot of other nasty stuff, oh but here's the kicker, NO FUCKING RECIPIES! For god's sake man, if you're going to put books in the game, at least let me write in them so I can remember these recipes. A game shouldn't rely on an outside source like Wikipedia for basic aspects of the game like this. Well at least it's better than crafting, where as in brewing, you put two ingredients in two slots, mix 'em, and see what comes out. Crafting is nearly impossible to figure out without a guide. It's not enough that you just have the materials, oh no, you need to place them in very, very specific spots on the crafting table. If you're not going to have directions on how to do this in game, then why in the holy mother of all that is good would you do something like this?!

The only good aspects of this game, are the many items of which you can craft (which the system to do that sucks my balls) the building, and the exploration...that's it. There are no good game-play mechanics or anything other than that, and this is why I said what I did before. Building and crafting is good, but getting the materials to do so is a chore. Exploration is kind of fun, but just to see the randomly generating terrain, not mystery or discovery, since I know exactly what I'm going to find anyway. Honestly, ask yourself, if these worlds weren't randomly generated, would you still be playing Minecraft?

Now, you may be thinking from what I've said in this review, that I hate Minecraft, well I really don't. I just like as a building tool, not as a game. If Minecraft had gone in a more game-play focused, RPG centered "game". Don't just focus on the building, instead do what you're game does, BUILD around that idea. What if the game had actual, laid out dungeons that are human designed and just linked together randomly, complete with treasure chests, traps, corridors, smart enemy placement, and stronger, unique enemies, along with perhaps a boss fight and special gear that you can't just craft on your own (and that is actually better than the stuff you can craft on your own, unlike the cocoa beans which are completely useless, since food you get on your own restores much more hunger than that of cookies)? What if you could interact with NPC's? Trade with them, talk with them, perhaps even do jobs for them or hire them to do your jobs, like farm, or help you fight. Maybe the enemies could interact with the NPC's as well, and you could act as a hero, defend the town from a monster invasion, after they're driven off, build a wall to keep them out, and be rewarded for your efforts by the leader of the small town. Speaking of enemies, what if the enemies had actually AI instead of Ai that doesn't even exceed Atari standards....in fact, Pac-Man's AI even exceeds Minecraft's AI. What if the Creepers, instead of just running into a wall and waiting for you there, actually stalked you throughout the world, waiting for the right moment to strike? What if the enemies could actually figure out how to move around a wall? What if the combat was better? Incorporating special moves and techniques, perhaps power moves? If none of that, at least give us more weapons that operate differently from one another, that alone could make the combat fun due to the weapon variety and each weapon's strengths and weaknesses.

Perhaps most importantly, what if the crafting, enchanting, and brewing systems included recipes or blueprints so you could know what the fuck you're doing without just taking a blind guess 100% of the time? Hell, those blueprints alone could be the rewards at the end of dungeons. Go even further, a magic system in which you could craft your own spells, how awesome would that be?! What about just more mobs even? There's only like five enemy mobs, in a world as big as Minecraft, that's a shame. Imagine now, all these features implemented into Minecraft, all with Minecraft's randomly generating worlds. It would've easily been a competitor with Skyrim for Game Of The Year, but no. Instead we get this, an unfinished, extremely underwhelming and under-designed, shit load of lost potential, poorly implemented, and pretty much gets boring after a couple days, mess of a "game". Minecraft is great as a building tool, but sucks as a game, and so far, I can't recommend it to anyone for its thirty dollar retail price, as opposed to its ten dollar Alpha stage price. Now you may think I'm being too harsh with this review, but ask yourself this, was the actual game, the sense of exploration, discovery, and accomplishment the thing that kept you playing, or the idea of finishing your "dream house" the thing that kept you playing?

9 Comments
Posted by chimaycheese

"and before you say anything, no, flat, square models with textures is not retro, and it is not an art-style. I can see how there would be a certain charm to this art style, however it does not excuse this."

So is it an art style or not? I mean, *I* know it is but you seem to be contradicting yourself here.

Posted by mrpandaman

No offense, this review doesn't seem like much of a review, but more like a long-winded rant. You're complaining about things that aren't in the game which is different from elements that have been omitted. You can't critique games or other things that aren't there or haven't been implemented yet. While the things you brought up could be cool, you can't knock a game for lacking things that you want. All you can say is that it sucks that Minecraft has a lack of features.

"The only good aspects of this game, are the many items of which you can craft (which the system to do that sucks my balls) the building, and the exploration...that's it. There are no good game-play mechanics or anything other than that, and this is why I said what I did before. Building and crafting is good, but getting the materials to do so is a chore. Exploration is kind of fun, but just to see the randomly generating terrain, not mystery or discovery, since I know exactly what I'm going to find anyway. Honestly, ask yourself, if these worlds weren't randomly generated, would you still be playing Minecraft?"

The whole point of Minecraft is to mine the resources. There's really no way of getting around mining in this game. And what do you mean, "just to see the randomly generating terrain, not mystery or discovery." No, I wouldn't be playing Minecraft if worlds were not randomly generated, because then there is no sense of exploring a completely different looking world.

And to answer your last question of the whole review, it was the sense of exploration, discovery, and accomplishment that kept me playing.

Posted by zeekthegeek

This reads more like an anti-review. No thanks.

Posted by echronorian

So what you're saying is since Minecraft doesn't fit your autistic definition of "video game" it cannot be good?

Posted by SpawnMan

I think you're missing the point of Minecraft. It's not an RPG. It's a video game that's a world builder. I feel sorry for you because you're missing out on the awesome experience that is Minecraft. : (

Posted by Xercodo

@echronorian: No what he's saying is that it isn't a good "game". It's an awesome sandbox but not a good game. This is why the majority of my enjoyment in the game as it is currently is running adventure maps that other people made with friends (:3) not the "get diamond everything to beat the dragon"

We all have to admit it, the core gameplay of Minecraft sucks and we all play it for the ability to create and explore, not as much to collect every color of wool or defeat the ender dragon.

I still love Minecraft but I have to agree with every point this review makes....or at least most of them.

....on a slightly related note my made-by-hand floating island made on flatland in creative mode

Edited by chplusink

@Xercodo said:

@echronorian: No what he's saying is that it isn't a good "game". It's an awesome sandbox but not a good game. This is why the majority of my enjoyment in the game as it is currently is running adventure maps that other people made with friends (:3) not the "get diamond everything to beat the dragon"

We all have to admit it, the core gameplay of Minecraft sucks and we all play it for the ability to create and explore, not as much to collect every color of wool or defeat the ender dragon.

I still love Minecraft but I have to agree with every point this review makes....or at least most of them.

....on a slightly related note my made-by-hand floating island made on flatland in creative mode

That's why the game industry isn't always coming up with new ideas (I'm not going as far as saying it isn't at all), because most people think that games have to fit within predefined boundaries and be analyzed within these boundaries. Your idea of gameplay is what limits most games to strict genre-structures and an overall lack of innovation. Look at the definition of a "video game" (which is more limiting term than "game"), the definition makes none of the restrictions you claim. You're not reviewing Minecraft based on its adherence to the term/idea "game", but judging it based on your assumption that any game with RPG elements should adhere to all the previous RPG genre conventions. This game wasn't meant to be an RPG, it was meant to be a "sandbox", which is actually a term used in video game development and consumption. If you just wanted to break it down to it's RPG elements and criticize those elements, I'm sure no one would disagree with you. However, you've also decided that "good games" are limited to achieving those RPG elements with strict adherence to common RPG conventions.

Your rant claims "Minecraft as a game, sucks." That might be the opinion of some, but the argument you gave to support this is based on your own narrow-minded assumption. I will now claim that your rant as a review, sucks.

Edited by Xercodo

@chplusink: On the contrary, in this particular case we're not trying to wedge Minecraft into a particular definition. It certainly is different and still fun to play. What the reviewer and I are trying to point out is that the way Minecraft is presented and how the content is structured points at those things being the major aspects of "gameplay" and in these regards it really is lacking. It's a sandbox with an RPG tacked on to it, and we've identified the RPG parts as trying to be the core of the gameplay when they shouldn't be.

Had Minecraft been structured at the get go to feature the sandboxiness as the entire point of the game and not just a mechanic of it I think the only argument people would have is that's it's TOO open ended. xD Minecraft would probably have worked better as an MMO where the lack of plot and direction can be thrown aside in favor of letting the players and community provide it, much the same way they do with the adventure maps they make.

EVE Online has a problem similar to this. Even though it is more structured than Minecraft, the "core" gameplay, which would probably be described as running missions, or just PVE in general, as compared to any other MMORPG, is very lacking and anyone that does JUST that in the game can find themselves getting very bored rather quickly. Thankfully more and more recently the devs have been pushing more for the player created content, not that it isn't being created already, but getting people to experience it; urging new players to get involved in it more.

This is how developers can innovate. By giving the players a reason, need, and path towards breaking the mold on existing games. What the EVE developers have done is given us mechanics that facilitate player content and we took off with it ourselves. This is why I feel that Minecraft would have done better as an MMO (regardless of how badly that'd go performance wise), because we need something to help us see what others have created and experiencing it. Sure there's dozens of boards and websites for people to share, but being able to hop on their sever and walk in and around it is a whole different thing.

Minecraft has been built up like an RPG in a sandbox. It should have been built as a sandbox and facilitated showing us the sand castles people create. Even if the game wasn't an MMO, letting people work with it to make the adventure maps like they do today but giving us a few to start out with and then giving us an official section to review, preview, and download these maps would have made it better. Making the three core things the adventure maps, the exploration, and the creation would have been better than what feels like a tacked on RPG. The RPG could evolve over time with development, but as it is now it's not very good.

And yes I would agree that the reviewer was poking and ripping on the RPG parts of Minecraft.

Posted by MrNeoshredder

@chplusink: No, I'm essentially saying that Minecraft is boring and unfinished. It hardly has any interesting features or things to do, and the things it does do, like the previously mentioned AI and combat, are extremely terrible. There's certainly lots of exploration, but there's never anything interesting to find. You could find your first diamond block in about 2-4 hours, although you wouldn't need the diamond because the enemy AI is idiotic and the combat is so simple that you could beat pretty much any enemy in the game by standing still and hitting them when they get too close. There's nothing else to find underground. There's no use in trying to find the underground strongholds either, as they are empty, barren, boring, and filled with nothing but items that are much easily craft-able on your own. The only reason you would ever go to a stronghold is to go to "The End" and fight the Ender-Dragon.The Ender-Dragon fight is not fun in the slightest, he's artificially difficult because the combat is so simplistic and the AI is so bad that it can't make a genuinely challenging enemy, so he just recharges his health every time he flies by those spires. After you beat him, you get a bunch of EXP, which you won't need because, as I said, the enemies are easy as shit. There's literally nothing left to do after that except build your house. I don't see the appeal of going back underground over and over again, gathering the same minerals over and over again, to build a virtual house that I will never need to use in the game, as after I finish it, there's no reason to go back to the game. I can't see anyone playing this game for more than maybe a week before having to use a mod to make it actually fun to play. A lot of people go into multiplayer to socialize with friends, there are plenty of better games to socialize and play with your friends in. It's incredibly boring to play in both single-player and multiplayer, I'm saying if it had more direction as an actual game it could have been fun, I used an RPG as an example because RPGs are similar to....whatever Minecraft is with its standard action-reward formula.

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