Friday, November 25, 2011

Minecraft 1.0- “Full Version” Review

Minecraft- if you haven’t heard about it, then that’s a shame. I’m here to fix that. Minecraft is an open-world sandbox game for PC/Mac/Linux released by Mojang. You start in a world made of pixelly blocks- the dirt, the mountains, the beaches, the snow, even the trees are made of blocks. Every block in the game is harvestable in some way, and can be used to craft tools, new materials, and things like beds and doors.

Use the wood from a tree to make planks, sticks, and finally a pickaxe to harvest stone from the world below you. Coal makes you torches and fuel, and metals you find can allow you to make armor and more advanced tools. Those torches become extremely important- looking up in the sky shows you that night is fast approaching, when monsters of all sorts will fill the dark places of the world and attack you.

You have to build shelter, learn to defend yourself, and gather resources during the day. But minecraft is so much more than just surviving and mining… minecraft is a game to build with, to explore with, to create with. The world is covered in unique landscapes, breathtaking features, various biomes, and challenges to conquer. You can build amazing structures-houses, farms, castles- and make mind-blowing machines using minecraft’s circuitry system (called redstone).

Maybe you want to mine through the depths of the earth and find diamonds, or explore deep caves and monster-filled dungeons with a sword in hand, or traverse the vast expanse of the world looking for the perfect place to make your base. You can even make it to the "hell" of the minecraft world- the Nether, a dangerous world of fire, lava, and enemies. Maybe you just enjoy building houses, villages, palaces, entire cities, or farming, or making redstone computers- but it’s probably some combination of all of these.

This is the beauty of minecraft; you can do whatever you want and there are almost no limits to what you can achieve. Exploration, discovery, ingenuity, and survival all mix perfectly into minecraft- though the world seems basic, even boring at first, there is a universe of content beneath the surface of Minecraft’s world.

With the recent MineCon event, the new Minecraft version 1.0 was released (don’t ask me why they went back in version number). To anyone who has kept up with the 1.9 prereleases, this is essentially the 1.9 that was never fully released. This isn’t a true review, per se, as I haven’t really gotten to play with a bunch of the new changes, but more of an announcement and a list of changes in the new version of the game.

This update expounds upon the 1.8 Adventure update (find it here), fine-tuning a number of its changes. Endermen now behave differently, and the Ender Pearls they drop now have purpose- you can throw them to teleport to where they land, or use them to make Ender Eyes- but more on those later. New Nether dungeons are filled with new mobs that drop odd items, which you can use in the new potion mechanic. Because of the hunger bar from 1.8, there was no real way to regenerate health directly, but now you can use golden apples and potions brewed out of nether materials and other ingredients. Potions can also poison you, increase running speed, work like armor, or even be thrown like grenades.

Strongholds were also updated- they are now more common and contain a new room with a silverfish spawner. You can find strongholds by taking an Ender Eye and throwing it into the air- follow where it points to get above a stronghold. If you brave the silverfish room, then you’ll find a ring of blocks over a lava pit- put an ender eye into the depression on each block to open a portal to The End. Here you’ll find a large expanse of rocks and big black pillars filled with Endermen and… a dragon. The Ender dragon is really strong, swooping in and hitting for high damage.

Furthermore, he heals himself from the gem things on those black pillars I mentioned, so you have to destroy the gems (not easy getting up there, as one Ender dragon swoop destroys all non-End materials) and then wear down the dragon by hitting it when it swoops at you or with some tricky bow shots. Winning the fight will reward you with a ton of experience and a fountain full of what looks like an end portal. Going in will bring you to a written dialogue known as the “End Poem”… it’s hard to explain, but it’s very cool and very thought-provoking (text version here). You also net yourself one of a few new achievements.

Other new additions include new tundra and mushroom biomes, animal breeding and baby animals, rebalanced tools and mobs, NPCs in the computer-generated villages, Hardcore game mode (no respawns), new sound effects, and repairable tools (putting two damaged tools together forms a new one). One of my favorite additions is the enchantment system. You can now use your hard-earned experience levels to upgrade tools, weapons, and armor using the new enchantment table. Putting books around the enchanting table allows you to get better (but costlier) upgrades- putting it in a library gives you access to godly endgame equipment with amazing powers, but it’ll cost you as much as 50 levels for some of the upgrades.

Overall, there are a ton of new additions that will make Minecraft just that much more enjoyable and deep (as if it even needed it!) Don’t be fooled though, it’s not the “final” version- Mojang will continue to update, but it’s a “complete” version, because it now has an end. This update should give you an incentive to buy it soon enough- the holidays are just around the corner, and I’m sure your loved ones would just as much appreciate the game!

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