Implausibly Reviewed: Minecraft

By Alec Meer on November 18th, 2011 at 1:58 pm.

Next, I shall review Scrabble

RPS chums Eurogamer asked me to review Minecraft for them a little while back. I had a bit of a funny turn in response – “review Minecraft? What, with like a score and stuff? Now? Um” – and then, of course, I said yes. With Mojang’s game finally due to achieve official release status this weekend, in the midst of the inaugural Minecon, it did seem oddly appropriate to finally look at this titan of indie gaming from a non-diary standpoint, even if I am personally not an enormous fan of putting numbers at the end of essays. So, here are my thoughts, with, yes, a big number on the end. Here’s how it starts:

How would you review Tetris, if you were reviewing it today? “The puzzling is very tight, and the soundtrack is catchy.” That’s the thing – Tetris is so much more than that by now, but it’s almost impossible to disassociate it from its cultural resonance. Minecraft, the free-form building and survival game, hasn’t yet seeped into the global consciousness to the same degree, but it has become something far more than a mere game.

And then I start wittering about Justin Bieber.

, .

67 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Quantifying a game’s quality through the use of linear numerical values? It’ll never catch on.

    No good can come of this, you mark my words.

    • edwardoka says:

      No good can come of this, you mark my words.
      Worst comment ever. 9/10

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      stahlwerk says:

      I did not get the humor, the graphics were bad, and were the hell is the “back” button? Also the cast is wildly unprofessional. I liked the nick and av., tho.

      7/10

    • edwardoka says:

      No good can come of this, you mark my words.
      Best comment ever. 9/10

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      AmateurScience says:

      It read like an eight to me…

    • Groove says:

      I give it chicken/egg.

    • kimadactyl says:

      How dare you give this anything less than an 11. You’re a disgrace to review comment reviewers.

    • Alec Meer says:

      You guys know the score. So to speak.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Reads like an x ∈ {0 <= x <= 10}

    • lijenstina says:

      Great 10^0/10

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      bear912 says:

      “Reads like an x ∈ {0 <= x <= 10}"

      I think you mean it reads like a x ∈ {6 <= x <= 9}…

    • EmS says:

      id given it an imaginary score say like 5+i5 / 10

      you just can’t quantify the game because it does so much right but to quite some players it will be too grindy or they don’t see the point of working seven days for building a golden cock

      its kinda like if you would test photoshop as a game if adobe built tetris into it when you open it at night
      wait… that dosent sound bad gotta get to work!

    • Thiefsie says:

      Better than Halo 2 then?

  2. SquareWheel says:

    That reminds me, I haven’t played Minecraft in almost thirty minutes.

  3. fallingmagpie says:

    Read like an 11.

  4. sneetch says:

    You scored Justin Bieber too high.

  5. hotcod says:

    10/10 is oddly the only score I think you can give the game. Then at the same time your review does well in pointing out the fact the game, in a lot of ways, has flaws which shouldn’t be it gets a flawless score. It’s something of a paradox but I think highlights something important about games. When you play a game you are actively part of creating it, a game is not a finished ‘work of art’ until the player is done and how that game is for them will be different to how that game was for some one else.

    Minecraft is a genius sandbox that can be both utterly open or more guided and it’s clear from the endless youtube videos, maps, servers, images, memes and mods that the game is a structure that supports all this stuff that is so much more than it’s self and it’s done it better than any other game we’ve had to this point. Hence why I think the perfect score fits… the flaws in the late end game goals as they stand is irrelevant to the thing minecraft has already become.

    • Alec Meer says:

      10/10 does not mean flawless, I believe the saying goes. But that’s the problem with scores!

    • grundus says:

      I don’t know, I loved Minecraft until I played it to the absolute death and everything, but I just don’t think it’s very good as an actual game. If I was reviewing it as an achievement, yeah, I’d give it 10/10, but as a game I wouldn’t. Obviously this is just my opinion based on what I believe games should be, and that discussion is just a newer, more high tech version of the old ‘what is art?’ debate, and is entirely subjective and therefore impossible to conclude.

      And as for scores, I hate them, they just invite comparisons between other games of the same score and imply that there was no room for improvement. MGS4 got 10/10 on some sites, is that in any way comparable to Minecraft? Are either of them really as good as they could be? No! Of course not!

      Seriously, though, Minecraft has been an incredible success, I doubt anyone expected it to take off like it did. For that it deserves a lot of recognition, but for it to be 10/10 in my opinion it would need NPCs you can talk to, functional villages, dynamic worlds that were changed by things like landslides, avalanches, floods… So much more than what there is. Maybe I’ll just look at it as a tech demo and hope there’s a sequel, kind of like Assassin’s Creed was and what most of id’s more recent games have been.

  6. Dinger says:

    First, the review read like a 7. How can you trash half the game and still give it a 10?
    Second, given the binary logic of the game, giving it higher than a 7 would eat up a precious review bit. Aren’t you guys always going on about the meaninglessness of numbers? Well, they take up space too, you know.
    Third, you gave Bieber a 7. No way Minecraft beats Bieber. When Bieber goes to Vegas, he doesn’t just swamp the Mandalay. He makes such a splash, it sends the Gondoliers at the Venetian clear back to the Piazza San Marco.
    10 just doesn’t make sense dude.

  7. Joe Duck says:

    WHY SO LOW?
    In a more serious note, nice review. I do not know who might need it by this point, but nice review anyway.

  8. faelnor says:

    Better than Halo then.

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    Mungrul says:

    This gives me hope that some day we may see a review of a version 1 release of Dwarf Fortress.

  10. caddyB says:

    Giving 10/10 to a game that is clearly released in an unfinished and has bad graphics sure is a sign of RPS writers finally selling out. The world as we know it is ending and we should no longer respect these people.

    signed, caddyb the unsuccessful troll

  11. Joe Duck says:

    Before I decide whether or not I will support Notch’s next project, I demand to know what’s the Metacritic Score for this Minecraft game.

  12. pakoito says:

    Terraria is bettarrrr

    • Phantoon says:

      Except we’re all bored of that because Terraria is purely a game. Needs procedural content or something to make it more interesting.

      Granted, it was quite fun the first few times, but it having procedural terrain doesn’t help it all that much when it’s not really a game about building.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      The Witcher 2 will be better. :)

    • EmS says:

      must
      write
      comment

      but sign says not to feed trolls :(
      well i can say terraria is a bit neater to look at but in the end you can’t really get as creative with it as you can with mine craft and thats the big point for me

  13. mod the world says:

    I would have loled so hard if you had given Minecraft the usual Eurogamer 8/10.

    • westyfield says:

      I think Alec would have found his house swiftly arsonated. None so vehement as Minecraft fanboys.

    • Phantoon says:

      What if… he had given it a 10 out of 8?

      I hear that’s what “they” did for the new Zelda Williams… thing. I don’t know what they’re rating about her, but apparently it was better than any scoring system could possibly hope to marginalize.

      *Note: I have no idea who “they” are. Are YOU them? OH GOD ARE YOU WATCHING ME RIGHT NOW?!

    • Hoaxfish says:

      They are watching you, and rating you.

    • Rhin says:

      I’ve heard that if you don’t look them in the eyes, they don’t attack you.

  14. Stephen Roberts says:

    What you get to do in a review like this is actually get a chance to explore something that rarely comes up in games reviews which is the cultural and industry wide impact this particular event (and Minecraft is an event) will have on the future of gaming. You can really explore what makes a title what it is and why it is so powerful or weak in fair measure. You can actually put on your academia hat and be all intelligent about something. Because there isn’t a single person out there to read this in order to guide their purchasing decisions (and while typing this I wonder who the fuck is that insecure anyway).

    It’s a lovely review. Pity about them big lumpy numbers at the bottom. If only the wider Journalism industry had the fucking stones to do what Rock Paper Shotgun do (nod of respect to Sight and Sound).

  15. Hoaxfish says:

    Reviewing minecraft:

    graphic 2/10
    story 1/10
    music 2/10
    QTEs 0/10
    Gameplay 5/10

    This is a terrible game, you should buy MW3 instead!

    • caddyB says:

      I hate to imagine the day when OTEs become a part of the review criteria in a positive sense.

    • Phantoon says:

      Shouldn’t it get a 10/10 for QTEs? As in how it has absolutely none of them?

    • EmS says:

      i would consider giving it 0/-10 points for no QTEs

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    stahlwerk says:

    lolscores aside, the bit about MC receiving tacked-on, grindy mamorpeguh elements worries me a bit. I wonder if there are plans to monetize via an in-game item/structure store.

    • skinlo says:

      I think it was mentioned once that you might be able to buy capes in the future for your avatars, but I don’t think anything beyond that.

    • EmS says:

      1. if you play minecraft online on a server you can always cheat around the limitations of survival mode (offline too)
      2. minecraft was always quite a grind if you had big building projects and were trying to get all the stuffs legit

  17. Deadly Habit says:

    i just want the final release so all my fave mods can catch up since the constant prereleases and people bugging them caused most of em to stop
    that and the api he talked about ages ago would be nice

    i think at this point it’s pretty much the mod community driving the continued interest in the game since the whole adventure updates and such was already pretty much done by mods (and in some cases a lot better) and seem like an afterthought by the mojang staff

    • The Tupper says:

      Yeah I’ve barely scraped the Minecraft mod world at all. I think the Painterly Pack was the only one I tried (and loved) a few months ago, but didn’t have the time to keep on top of upgrades.

      It’s another treat I’ve been saving for myself (along with not incrementally-upgrading since 1.8) for the full release.

  18. Bharg says:

    I thing Mojang never really got what made Minecraft great.
    Most of the recent upgrades seem pretty rubbish to me.

  19. aircool says:

    Being on a minecraft server with my friends reminds me of the great childhood obsession of ‘playing out’. Except this time, you can do it with a glass of wine in your hand, and build a ruddy great spaceship (out of rock mind).

    Ever tried minecart jousting? It doesn’t work, but is funny as hell anyway. I created a huge wall fifty blocks high (using the old lava/water building trick), then made a gigantic wooden gate with the biggest Woverhampton Wanderers emblem ever seen built into it.

    I built a skysailing ship with everything from a brig to a wardroom. I created a huge complex made out of nothing but trees. Then watched helplessly as it burned down.

    At no point did I create a penile water feature. Someone had already done that in their pyramid of fire.

  20. SPNKR says:

    You seem to reference Phalli quite a bit…

    But good review, I <3 Minecraft, and you put it quite well in the article.

  21. OJSlaughter says:

    Minecraft is probably one of the best games ever made but I always feel like there could be more: *looks at modding community*

    OMFG!

    • BurningPet says:

      Yeah, looking at Minecraft without the modding is like looking at Little Big Planet without the user made levels.

  22. lijenstina says:

    Five keyboard cats of six Eduard Khils.

  23. DickSocrates says:

    I’d give it 5. It’s addictive, but it’s shite. Anyone that can play it for longer than 2 weeks has something wrong with them. It’s the perfect hipster game. It is hipsterness in game form. No one with any sense has anything to do with it.

  24. Premium User Badge

    jrodman says:

    UI is terrible.
    No tutorial.
    Endgame is annoying.
    My imagination sucks.

    5/10.

  25. Big Daddy Dugger says:

    100%? You didn’t even have the decency to subtract a point or two for the visuals? YOU SELLOUT! HOW MUCH ARE THEY PAYING YOU?! THIS REVIEW WILL NOT STAND! MINECRAFT HAS THE WORST GRAPHEX EVA!!! They should have made this game for the 360 cuz PC’s clearly can’t pull off HD graphics. OOOOOOOOH BURN

  26. Premium User Badge

    Acosta says:

    Justin Bieber a 7?

    For shame Alec, for shame. I hope you got a good big bribe out of that.

    (Lovely review, great work ;) )

  27. Shadram says:

    “It could be a giant phallus. Or it could be Justin Bieber.”

    Aren’t they the same thing?

  28. Hoaxfish says:

    I know this is a bit late to really comment on this… but I actually find this slightly problematic that nobody is really willing to review Minecraft “now”.

    Years of Beta, word of mouth hype, etc has built rose-tinted lenses.

    So, what have you got? Building and Exploration pretty much work, and is probably the thing which spawns most of the conversations.

    But a lot of the other stuff that populates the game beyond the initial stages is basically empty.

    A multitude of things which have no use, basic combat, etc. These things still feel like a Beta, where features are still in their infancy.

    The “promise” of future developments is meaningless, in the same way as reviewing MMOs. And then it’s a bit like Skyrim, where the real “meat” lies in the modding community (but even more so, since Skyrim really does have content and story, etc).

    In the end, I’m seeing people basically score Minecraft higher than Skyrim, the later seeming to have everything that the former offers but done better. The one feature that Minecraft has, terraforming, is basically a trade for Skyrim’s story-form (or at least basic “living” NPCs).

    As to the Tetris comparison… Tetris is a complete puzzle game. When you remove its cultural weight, it’s still a game that has lasted, and each game is fundamentally robust it what the player gains from it. Minecraft starts strong, but peters out quite quickly (dig hole, find coal… then build forever).