I played a little bit of Minecraft single player recently. I wanted to see what all the hype was about. And, well, wasn't impressed.
The biggest time waster in the game is all the darn spelunking. To get any significant quantity of iron you need to dig really, really deep. Soon enough you're up to your ears in cobblestone because of all the digging you're doing. You only really hit it big once you're in the bottom eighth of the map because that's where all the redstone, diamond, gold, and lava is. Once that's done, you can build yourself a portal to the Nether, but don't get your hopes up because your prospects there are hit and miss... but mostly miss.
The Nether is terrible. Getting places there is nigh-on impossible and you can literally get lost in that place for HOURS even with a map. Chances are your portal will probably be located on an overhang with a sea of lava at the bottom and no clear method of getting to anywhere else. You always run the risk of losing all the items you took in with you by falling into a sea of lava; or, if you happen to die on land, chances are you won't be able to backtrack to the place where you died.
Oh, and did I mention it's a deathtrap? I mean, besides the perilous cliff faces over oceans of lava and the relative ease of getting hopelessly lost, that is. You're also hounded by flying ghosts that shoot exploding fireballs at you all the time. Also there are these zombie pigmen everywhere which are neutral but will swarm on you and kill you very quickly if you ever decide to attack them. Oh, and you constantly have to go back and resupply if you want to do anything because there's no raw material there.
Exploring the Nether isn't really worth it because the terrain is literally just a chaotic mess of ugly, monotonous hills. There's really nothing valuable there either. The base material there (netherrack) can be lit indefinitely but it's not good for much else (poor blast resistance, ugly as sin, etc.). It's mostly good for filler, if anything. The quicksand thing that slows you down is practically useless and glowstone provides decent illumination, but not much else. There are supposed to be these fortresses there or whatever with loot inside, but I pretty much gave up after exploring the damn place for hours. And yeah, the game is pretty much broken at that point. Everything you discover is just a lot pointless nonsense. Exploration on the surface world is also pointless because the terrain is just a homogeneous mishmash of similarly colored biomes that extend to infinity.
The biggest flaw with Minecraft is that it just goes overboard on the procedural generation. The gimmicks and monsters are tolerable for a while, but that's about it. The map is just completely saturated with all these superfluous little terrain features. There are all these tiny peaks everywhere; wherever you go it's just hills and hills and more hills surrounded by lakes and forests. There are no landmarks because you can barely differentiate one hill from the other once you've traveled far enough. What's great about landmarks is that they stand out against the rest of the landscape; instead, Minecraft throws you an odd shaped rock formation every 100 meters or so.
When you first explore the world, you initially think, "wow, that's cool," and after a while you turn around and go back to your little hut or castle or whatever. It delivers that superficial first impression and then that's it; most players don't even give a second thought to it. It encourages a certain type of mindset where one throws together a few dozen uninspired buildings together and calls it a "city." Once you chip away the pathetic facade you can see the mediocrity behind it. That isn't to say that there isn't anything innovative; it's just that originality (or lack thereof) doesn't -- or at least shouldn't -- cover up a game's deficiencies.
As I said, the biggest flaw with the game is the terrain generator. If you're still hung up on all the grinding, the ugliness, or the sheer pointlessness of it all, then it's perhaps the biggest technical flaw. The sandbox element is kind of rudimentary. Constructing anything is tedious. Resource gathering is tedious. Navigating the world is tedious. The enemies are really boring. The day/night cycles are jarring. Minecraft is a pretty terrible content creation tool, if anything.
The survival mode lacks the variety and intensity of enemies that would make it interesting while the creative mode lacks the tools that games like Sim City have provided for 20 years. There are definitely some impressive creations. We've all seen them; from giant castles, cities, futuristic landscapes and the like, to detailed recreations of anything from private residences to cars to Imperial cruisers from Star Wars! And I mean, seriously, there's no denying the darn things are impressive -- at least the first time you see them. And until you've realized what's wrong with them!
And what's wrong with them is that they're completely devoid of life. For the most part, they're also devoid of any complexity apart from the primitive physical concept of colorful blocks placed on top of one another in aesthetically pleasing patterns (though "aesthetically pleasing" is not how I would describe Minecraft's visuals). A city in Sim City is a living, breathing, growing or declining (depending on the player's skill) urban agglomeration with its own rules and constantly evolving properties. The structures in Sim City "communicate" with each other. Its streets are filled with cars with people driving back and forth from their homes to their workplaces and shopping malls. The airports in Sim City actually function (you can even see the simulated planes flying over your simulated city, and sometimes even crash into it). Then there are fires and floods and dinosaurs attacks and giant alien death rays to keep the game interesting. In Minecraft there are no tools besides place and remove.
I guess you can make the argument that it's the best Lego block simulator out there. One that even lets you play with friends! The difference between Lego blocks and Minecraft is that the former is aesthetically pleasing and has every piece readily available, while the latter is, as I've already mentioned, crude and visually unappealing , and requires quite a bit of time to gather (basically grind). Not only are Lego bricks infinitely more pleasing to play with, but there's far more variety in object size and shape. There are probably hundreds of different Lego pieces, but the only objects in Minecraft are multicolored cubes. With a Lego set, you can build anything you want, and you can interact with it. I can make a dinosaur fight a robot in the middle of an underwater city inhabited by ninjas that's under attack by a legion of skeleton warriors. Also, Batman. Sure, purchasing Lego sets will hurt your wallet, unless, of course, you have a more fortunate financial status. But while Minecraft might be the only Lego simulator out there, it is not a very good one.
tl;dr Minecraft tries to be a sandbox as well as a proper game and is just kind of mediocre at both of them.
Last edited by Blue_Falcon
on 04 May 2012 01:45, edited 1 time in total.