Mrblikey's Minecraft – Pocket Edition Review
- Crafting and mining features are present, staying true to the PC version. Creative mode is also available
- Tweakable options (which is always a good sign for an iOS port)
- Multiplayer is quick and easy to get started
> It's a blast, too.
- Fairly smooth framerate for the most part (impressive for such a large game), even on multiplayer and earlier iPad models
- Lots of missing features in comparison to the PC counterpart
> Most of the hostile mobs, gold and diamond-tier tools, and lots of blocks are not present here
- Hit-or-miss controls
- Multiplayer is LAN only; no online capabilities (as of yet)
This review applies to the iPad version of the game. Some of the comments I made can apply to the iPhone/Pod renditions, but it's almost an entirely different game on the larger screen
IMPORTANT NOTICE: This review applies to versions PRIOR to the 0.3.2 Update, which occured 7/16/2012. The update includes furnace support and adds new blocks, including Iron and Diamond ore.
Minecraft, one the latest crazes in the gaming industries, has made its way to the iOS. When it first came out onto the system, it was fairly barebones, consisting only of a few blocks to play with in creative mode only. Now, we have a survival mode and lots of new toys to play with.
The game is a grid-based first-person building game, with different modes adding different aspects to the genre of the game. Survival mode drops you in the world with nothing but your bare hands and you have to... well, survive! Creative mode taps into your inner lego-block-stacker-person, and allows you to select from a variety of blocks to build with. You choose either Creative or Survival mode when you create a new world, which are completely randomly generated with the game's world-creation engine (which is quite an interesting one at that). You'll find a lot of interesting natural structures in any world you make and it's a blast just seeing what's in your world. From what I know, you can have as much worlds as you like, as long as you have enough space on your iPad to store it. Worlds are fairly small though; there aren't infinite like the PC version. They get cut-off by an impenetrable fog-wall thingy, and it's not very pretty. Worlds are fairly expansive underground, though.
Everyone knows what the Minecraft survival mode is about. Unless you're living under a ten-tonne rock, you should know, at least. You (and maybe a few friends, if you're playing in multiplayer) are alone in a land untouched by man, and it's your job to survive in this expansive world. You know the drill. Unless you live under a ten-tonne ro- Oh, never mind.
The gameplay of the survival mode consists of collecting and crafting resources. You can create many things with the resources you find; whether it be tools, dye, or building blocks. In order to survive, you obviously need shelter. You can make said shelter with the blocks you collect or create. Will you make a house out of wooden planks or make one out of urine-colored sheep wool? Your choice. Otherwise, you'll end up getting devoured by the zombies outside. In the main PC counterpart, there are a lot more monsters out there than the typical zombie, but the iOS version is still in a fairly early stage so that can be forgived. If you come from the PC, this could detract from your experience, though. Mining also played a huge part in the main game as well, but since you can't upgrade your tools further than the second-tier, stone, you can't really get very far with mining in the long run. Despite that, the game is still quite fun, and it's enjoyable just walking around your created world, hunting for resources, especially with a friend.
The game's creative mode is centered entirely around the building aspect of the game. You can't collect resources from your world but blocks can be destroyed much more quickly. In this mode, you can also fly around to help make building a bit less of a chore. I'll discuss this more in depth when I talk about the controls in general. If building strikes your fancy more than surviving in the dark, this mode is probably the better fit for you.
Shape the world as you see fit. Actually no, bad idea. Everything's square.
The graphics are hit-or-miss, much like the PC version. Everything is in cube form and all pixelated, so if you're more of a graphics-junkie, then perhaps this game won't hit your niche. Personally, I dislike the graphics of both renditions but that's only because I'm a clown. Feel free to throw a tomato at me now. In all honesty though, the graphics never really struck out to me. I felt as if the gameplay was what defined the game the most. Again, like the PC version, you can change the game's texture pack, but \that's a convoluted mess in itself, so don't worry about it unless you NEED the higher quality textures.
The controls of the game are... Ehhhhhhh... They're okay. If you observe fig. 1, you'll see five little buttons at the bottom left of the screen. These are used to move your character around. The center button in this cluster is the jump button. Yeah, that's a problem. Luckily, the game automatically jumps for you when you want to hop up to a block above you, so the jump controls shouldn't bother you unless you're trying to jump manually. You can also fly. In creative mode, simply tap the jump button twice in quick succession and, well... you'll fly! Hold down the jump button and drag up or down to gain or lower your altitude, respectively. The little blocks at the bottom center are the ones in your toolbar. You can change blocks simply by tapping the ones you want to use. Tapping the '...' will allow you to change the type of block or tool you want in your toolbar. To move the camera, simply drag your finger in the direction you want to look. To place a block or attack a mob, tap the screen anywhere. To hit a block or use a tool, hold down your finger on the screen. The controls are good, but not great. A lot of people have complained about the controls as well, and you might be one of those people. An option to reconfigure the controls and move the buttons around would be nice.
Speaking of options, this game actually offers graphical options (albeit fairly lackluster ones, but still, it's good). You can change the textures to be lower quality and adjust the controls, albeit a little teensy bit. You can also make your toolbar a bit larger, which is always great for the iPad, as it has a larger screen. On the iPad 1, the game runs fairly smoothly, what seems like 20-40 frames per second, whilst the iPad 3 runs the game at what seems to be a smooth 60 frames per second. On the iPad 1 you might want to turn down the graphics intensive options.
Lastly, the multiplayer. This is my favorite part of the game. If you have another friend with an iPad, iPod or iPhone around you can get them to join your world, up to a maximum of eight. Simply by selecting the 'Join Game' button at the main landing screen you can join any game in close proximity as long as the host allows for it. It's really simple and there are no network lag spikes as you are connected directly to each other's devices. It's really simple to get a game started, and that's what I love about the multiplayer!
Everyone looks the bloody same though. It's as if I'm hallucinating. N-no, I'm not hallucinating, am I? I'm not insane! MOMMY I'M NOT INSANE PUT ME DOWN I-
All-in-all, this game IS in fact worth the $6.99 pricetag. It has a fair bit to offer for that price, and updates to the game are indeed coming. If you are discouraged from buying the game for that price, I won't blame you though, especially if you don't have other people to play it with. But still, I personally think this game was worth every cent I paid for it.