It's immediately apparent after digging into Minecraft on the Xbox 360 that the platform is well suited for Mojang's first-person sandbox-style building adventure. From comfortable controls and the effortlessness of jumping into multiplayer co-op over Xbox Live, to detailed in-game tutorials and a more user-friendly crafting system, this updated yet scaled-down port of the indie hit is deliciously accessible. Total newcomers to the game will no doubt find themselves blissfully swept away by the many opportunities for open-ended creativity found throughout the Xbox 360 edition. While coming to this version after spending lots of time playing Minecraft on PC is a jarring and disappointing experience, the joy of free-form exploring, building, and adventuring in randomly generated blocky worlds is nicely reproduced here.
You're limited only by your imagination.
The good news is that the essence of what makes Minecraft so absorbing is left untouched. From the second you spawn into your first 3D world, you're punching trees to harvest wood, digging deep into the underground to mine resources, forging handy tools, battling creepers, and building fortresses to year heart's content--or not, depending on personal preferences. You're free to do as you please, unfettered by preconceived objectives, and the slow pace of exploration is balanced by the fun that comes from gradually figuring out the style of play that comes naturally to you.
New built-in tutorial menus and in-game help pop-ups also do an excellent job of explaining the core mechanics early on, which means you won't have to fire up a Web browser and consult a wiki to figure out basic elements. This makes it much easier to get a feel for the game quickly, while also keeping the deeper elements hidden for you to uncover on your own during your travels.
Trading in the mouse and keyboard for the Xbox 360 controller is a comfortable transition. While you can't sprint in this edition, a minor problem that sometimes turns long-distance travel into a plodding trek, navigating the world and tackling the many tasks available is an otherwise fluid affair. One of the biggest improvements is the redesigned crafting system that streamlines the item-creation process and makes managing your inventory a lot more digestible. Instead of dropping individual resources into various formulas on the crafting grid to see what you get, all you have to do is open up the crafting menu and select the item you want to build. Hitting the craft button pulls all the necessary materials from your inventory automatically and creates the item. Any materials you're lacking are highlighted in red, which is helpful for tracking them down. It's great to not have to memorize item recipes, and you can forge the gear you need a lot faster using this well-designed system.
Crafting is a lot more streamlined on the Xbox 360.