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Review

Minecraft Review

  • First Released May 10, 2009
    released
  • Reviewed Nov 29, 2011
  • PC

Building, crafting, and adventuring doesn't get much better than in Minecraft.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

Minecraft is dangerous. You can sit down to a new randomly generated world for a quick session only to snap out of the creative haze many hours later to realize you've forgotten to eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom. There's always just one more tunnel to carve, one more resource to harvest, one more tool to forge, or one more to-scale replica of the Star Trek Enterprise to re-create block by block. The ability to exercise limitless freedom and mold the game's retro fantasy world to your liking is powerfully addictive, and this indie-developed sandbox phenomenon holds a staggering level of depth. Some of the game's elements still feel rough and unfinished, but nevertheless, once Minecraft sinks its hooks into you, it won't let go.

Though it initially lacks any tangible plot or specific direction to follow, the real beauty of Minecraft lies in the fact that neither is needed. You get out of the game what you choose to put into it, which allows you to pursue the aspects that most appeal to you. Survival mode is where the experience comes closest to resembling a game in a traditional sense. Dropped into a lovely but primitive-looking 3D world, you're free to explore, build, and adventure as you see fit. Unique biomes like thick forests, swamps, mountain ranges, deserts, and icy tundras hold many resources to harvest, and the jagged landscape itself is your key to survival in these first tenuous steps of the adventure. You start out empty-handed and danger-prone, but carving out the land yields tons of resources needed to generate food, craft weapons and armor, and form crucial tools. Building a shelter with stone, wood, and other blocks is also important; nightfall ushers in the arrival of meandering killer creatures that range from the exploding creepers and mumbling zombies to the enigmatic endermen and arrow-flinging skeletons. There's a cool natural flow to the day/night cycle that encourages you to shift gears between fiddling around on the surface and hunkering down or heading below ground.

The complex crafting system at the heart of Minecraft's open-ended gameplay is a huge part of what makes the game so enjoyable, and it adds to the thrill of exploration. Laying down raw materials and other resources you've collected in certain combinations along the crafting grid lets you produce everything from practical adventuring tools and structural building elements to clever decorations for your mega fortresses. Some basic items, like torches and pickaxes, are needed for navigating below ground and mining key resources. More elaborate items, like enchanting tables that let you imbue weapons with buffs and powered mine carts that can be used to ferry materials across great expanses of track, require rarer materials to craft. Scouring both the surface and subterranean realms for the elements needed to craft these "recipes" is hard work, but it's rewarding.

Toiling away for hours to finally uncover that elusive component you've been searching for can unlock a whole new range of crafting possibilities, and there are more than 200 recipes to make. The big issue for newcomers is that figuring out recipes is a completely unintuitive process. There's nothing in the game in the way of tutorials or even a basic explanation of possible item combinations and what they do. Thankfully, Minecraft players have posted a tremendous amount of detailed information online to help the uninitiated learn the ropes, but it's a major shortcoming of the game that you have to venture outside of it to learn new crafting combinations. There's a hefty learning curve to get past when you start out, though it's not a total fun dampener. It's less of an inconvenience once you get a feel for it, and the sheer volume and variety in the things you can craft more than make up for it.

Strongholds offer vast opportunities for adventure.
Strongholds offer vast opportunities for adventure.

Regardless of which mode you play, one of Minecraft's biggest draws is the way it encourages rampant creativity. The gameworld is constructed very much like a giant Lego set, and you can destroy, tinker, or add to the environment in any way you see fit. At first, placing simple soil and stone blocks to erect a crude shelter to keep out the nocturnal hordes feels satisfying, but as you uncover the means to craft torches, doors, stairways, panes of glass, bookshelves, and tons of other abode-centric items, the door to endless building possibilities suddenly flings open. It's possible to sink full days into building elaborate flying megafortresses, underwater castles, skyscraper-like towers of doom, and complex labyrinths--and that's just the beginning. Using red stone, pistons, trap doors, and other unique items culled from recipes, you can construct everything from elaborate Rube Goldberg machines to massive lava-spewing pixel art statues of your favorite game characters. Bending the gameworld to your creative will can be a glorious time-sink on its own, and the level of flexibility is mind-boggling.

With unlimited blocks, instant access to every item, one-hit destruction, and the ability to fly at will, playing God in Creative mode offers a more relaxed way to build and play. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Hardcore mode hikes up the difficulty and gives you just a single life with which to work. It's a brutal challenge that's not for the squeamish because dying deletes your gameworld and everything you've amassed in it. Playing multiplayer Survival mode with friends is one of the most rewarding ways to enjoy Minecraft, if you can muster the patience needed to download additional software and figure out how to properly configure the server with help from online tutorials. Like some other features in the game, the multiplayer setup isn't the most intuitive or easy to navigate. It is, however, absolutely worth the hassle.

Survival mode blends building and adventuring, and it's where the most fun is at--whether you play solo or with friends. The most intrepid explorers and ardent treasure hunters will want to journey far beyond the comforts of their spawn points because Minecraft's expansive realm is home to some unusual hot spots worth touring. Poking around cave crevices can uncover elaborate underground strongholds that stretch deep underground. These long-abandoned vestiges of human civilization hold hidden treasures and ample resources to balance out the hazards posed by their deadly denizens. Then, there's The Nether--a hell-like alternate dimension riddled with danger that is accessed by crafting a portal out of rare materials. Aside from being fun and risky to tool around in, both of these locations are integral to accessing the ultratough end boss encounter that's tacked on for completionists.

The Nether: Welcome to hell.
The Nether: Welcome to hell.

Does the game really benefit from an ending? Not so much, but it offers up a goal for those that feel they need one. However, the fact that there even is an ending to strive for isn't clear from the get-go because the introduction to the gameworld is such an abrupt one that's devoid of story or direction. Other recent additions to the game leading up to the game's official launch--like human villages populated by mindless non-player characters that currently serve no purpose and a bare-bones experience system that weakly ties into weapon enchantments--feel like interesting ideas that lack follow-through in their implementation.

Minecraft has been a work in progress throughout its lengthy public beta, and the "official release" still has an unfinished feel to it in spots that won't sit well with everyone. Visual glitches pop in at regular intervals, and some game elements seem incomplete or thrown together in haste. What's amazing is that the core game is so ridiculously absorbing that these flaws matter little in the grand scheme of things. Even in its current form, Minecraft remains one of the most conceptually impressive indie games out there. It's a game changer to be sure and one that will live on in the annals of gaming history for a long time to come.

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The Good
Blocky retro aesthetic is charming
Crafting system has amazing depth
Great balance between building and adventuring
The Bad
No in-game tutorials or recipe guides
Some game elements feel unfinished
8.5
Great
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111 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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EndoPlayzYT

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Love the game idk when I haven't played it

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LiquidButter

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This should really have a 10. This game has been monumentally influential to not just the gaming world but to world wide pop culture and has even pushed into the education industry. It may not look it at first glance, but Minecraft is surely one of the greatest games of the 21st century.

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PancakePuncher

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does anybody no about them releasing to PS4 because i think they said something about that


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yocabb77

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Minecraft is a good game! It has a gloomy aspect which makes it fun!

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eljohnnycage1

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Yeah, the survival aspect of the game is quite thrilling. By the way, have you heard of the site << LINK REMOVED >> ? You can play Minecraft for free there.

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walidchami1122

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<< LINK REMOVED >> ther is no levels on minecraft

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ffritzy

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> there is no cow level


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Morfessa

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> there is no spoon


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walidchami1122

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ther is no levels on minecraft

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gjonasChihuahua

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Sweet! I've just received my free minecraft giftcode!

>> Minecraftcodes.info <<

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Super42SMT

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I hate how some people say that a major down-point of Minecraft is that some features "don't feel complete" or are buggy. Minecraft is constantly being updated/upgraded all the time! They come out with a downloadable 'snapshot' update every Thursday, and a major auto-install update compiling all the latest snapshots every two months or so.

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psnmaker123

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This game is truly addicting if you guys don't know yet. For those of you who want to get it for free legitimately go to this website << LINK REMOVED >>

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alek4032

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SWEET! I just got a free Minecraft card code at << LINK REMOVED >>
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Vividnightmare

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I guess I didn't feel the problem of no tutorial because I started with the 360 version which does have a tutorial. After only a week of the 360 version I had to get copies for me and my wife. Now I've lost countless hours into Minecraft, I really don't see the draw back to the lack of tutorial other than the more advanced mechanics. Wiki is a WONDERFUL resource for minecrafters. I just wish there was a interactive tutorial for the more complex redstone machines such as elevators and cannons. It sure it a pain trying to figure it out from Wiki and Youtube.

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KamranMackey

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<< LINK REMOVED >> This review was posted when the PC version of Minecraft was released. I don't think it has been updated since then though.

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KamranMackey

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@Vividnightmare This review was made when the PC version of Minecraft was released. I don't think they updated this review since then though.

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Super42SMT

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<< LINK REMOVED >> "Tutorial for the more complex redstone machines such as elevators and cannons" It's called Youtube.

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qwerty0543

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SWEET! I just got a free Minecraft card code at << LINK REMOVED >>

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kp499

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Hey, I've just received a free Minecraft Giftcode!

You can get one too!


>> minecraftcodes.me <<

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Boykid560

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Guys, Minecraft isn't meant to be like real life! If you want to have a tutorial, play it on the xbox 360 on the tutorial world, all you idiots who say minecraft is 'overrated' or

'too blocky'. Minecraft Is a unique world made out of blocks! I bet you £100000 you can't make a better game! Minecraft is only made by about 7 people!

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Ezioprez9709

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Exactly! Goldeneye 64 was made with just a few people and that was good. U have a gud point.

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erod12187

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Hey, I've just received a free Minecraft Giftcode!You can get one too! >> minecraftcodes.me <<

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jhluz01

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Sweet! I've just received my free minecraft giftcode! >> Minecraftcodes.info <<

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akshat8181

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Notch is a great man

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akshat8181

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This game is fun.

You can build YOUR WORLD in the comfort of your own house.

Pix-elated world makes the game more fun.

The creator (of this game) put lots of effort to make this game.

Lets owe him some respect.

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Madelion

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how can i play this game?

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boltgolt

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<< LINK REMOVED >> you buy it at minecraft.net

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xxParallelxx

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Happy Now ? Haters ? ..

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Madelion

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<< LINK REMOVED >> how can i play mine craft?

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Boykid560

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> You buy minecraft for about £17 or $20 at Minecraft.net

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xxParallelxx

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Bad Graphics ? --> << LINK REMOVED >> ? ---> << LINK REMOVED >> we go .

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xxParallelxx

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Fail >.> << LINK REMOVED >>://www.minecraftforum.net/topic/940974-125sonic-ethers-unbelievable-shaders-glsl-shaders-dynamic-shadows-more/

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nickichocolate

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Sweet! I've just received my free minecraft giftcode! >> Minecraftcodes.info <<

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VixenWolf11

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<< LINK REMOVED >> wow... comparing this game to a game probably over 10 years old by now... have you even tried to play it??

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VixenWolf11

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No in-game tutorials or recipe guides - Really? Ever think of looking for a wiki? If not, here let me help you out. This is an up to date list of every item in the game, legit and non-legit obtainable items. Yes, It is possible to be sucked into the game but when your bladder is literally pestering you to go to the bathroom don't most people get up and go?

As a fellow player of Minecraft myself. I am going to give a bit of review here.

Minecraft as highly addicting as it is, is a great game for families now that they have added the SP LAN option. My family and I can sit and play this game together and have fun building wahtever we want. And being the mother that I am, you all may think I'm a bad parent for letting my kids play a game that can be so time consuming. In fact, I am not. I see this game as a way to outlet some of that young creativity. My daughter built a huge castle in the sky and she is 5. My son - underwater home - he's 7. Minecraft has a lot of ups and downs .

Pros - 1)Family entertainment 2) Creative outlet for young children 3) Adds a new meaning to sandbox games 4) Can be nostalgic for some to feel acomplished (i.e. "Wow I can't believe i thought of this! THis looks amazing! {something somone might say to an amazing structure built.} 5) Could be used as a cheap way to lay out a floor plan for a future home? (I know ive done that built my dream home in minecraft - yay no mortgage but i cant physically live in it)

Cons - 1) Time consuming 2) Occasionally buggy 3) Addicting

So there it is. My mini review. Scale of 1-10 i would give Minecraft a 9.5!

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sleipnir796

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I played this game with my brothers long enough to say its completely unique. One day i figured out that my little cousin wasn't allowed to touch the computer because of the common game gore. So i realized it was a pretty good idea to share it with her. Let me tell you, i wasn't wrong at all. Some weeks after leaving the game at my uncles house, when i went to visit, she showed me all the structures and castles and things she created and discovered. As she was telling me how she managed to create glass, i slowly drew a smile on my face. Minecraft is unique because you are able to create, and move everywhere. You can dig hiding spots anywhere, you can build any structure your imagination proposes, and most of all, you can build with the help of others, life-like communities where everyone works like team, collect materials needed for the group and share. I think that most of the people runs away when they find out this features, because they are actually scared of not being told what to do or how to play.

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doriot

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I am so srry to be posting stuff like this but hey, free Minecraft!

Sweet! I've just received my free minecraft giftcode! >> Minecraftcodes.info <<

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gravox82

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Sweet! I've just received my free minecraft giftcode! >> Minecraftcodes.info <<

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gravox82

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just AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! best game i have played in years! simple yet hard. how does this happen! i dunno!!! :)

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vadagar1

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best game I played in years

Minecraft More Info

Follow
  • First Released May 10, 2009
    released
    • 3DS
    • Linux
    • + 10 more
    • Macintosh
    • Nintendo Switch
    • Online/Browser
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • PlayStation Vita
    • Wii U
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Minecraft is a game that involves players creating and destroying various types of blocks in a three dimensional environment.
    8.6
    Average Rating4705 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Minecraft
    Developed by:
    Notch, 4J Studios, Mojang AB
    Published by:
    Mojang AB, Microsoft Game Studios, Nintendo, SCEA, SCEE, SCE Australia, SCEJ, SCEI
    Genre(s):
    First-Person, 3D, Open-World, Adventure
    Theme(s):
    VR, Fantasy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+