Ever since its inception, Minecraft has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, with a fan base of millions, and some truly extraordinary worlds and levels created, as a search on YouTube can show massive works such as a full-scale Starship Enterprise as well as a replica of the entire Earth that you can walk around in.
So, it was always going to be a challenge to bring a game with such potential for scale to mobile. Mojang have decided to do it little by little, with this Xperia Play game having a lot of the features of the free to play web version of Minecraft to start off, with more features gradually added over time.
So, for those of you who have never played Minecraft and are wondering what all the fuss is about, well it is a world building game using blocks made from all different kinds of materials that can be ‘crafted’ together. The world is all made from cuboid blocks, giving the game a unique ‘2D in 3D’ look. Everything can be taken down, from mountains and hills to houses and towns,and can be rebuilt however you like. It is simply a case of pressing one button to remove a block, and another button to place a block.
It is a brilliantly simple system that allows newcomers to instantly know how to build a simple house, while also allowing veterans to build stunning megastructures.
This Xperia Play version assign the building and deleting to the shoulder buttons, while a combination of the D-pad and touchpad moves you around the world. It will feel instantly natural to anyone who plays and you will be building in no time.
When you start the single player mode, the game generates a random world for you and you are free to do whatever you like, although there are a lot of things missing from the desktop version. For a start there are no Zombies hanging around in the underworld, only 36 different blocks to choose from(18 in the free version),no survival mode, no online play and the most baffling omission; no crafting.
Newcomers won’t notice any of these features missing, but experienced players may find tat the lack of online play and creepers actually makes the game feel quite lonely and isolated. The missing crafting is a huge loss and is something that I hope the developer is working to bring as fast as possible.
There is local multiplayer via WiFi, and is easy to set up ad great fun if you know someone else with an Xperia Play in your locality. A great feature of the local play is the fact that levels you create together can be saved to your phone for later use.
The graphics are really impressive, and to my eyes are as good as the PC version in terms of basic quality, although there are quite a few times where the game will slow down, particularly if you are looking at a big level. What I did notice about this is that the game became smoother the longer it was running.
This is a great time waster. It is so easy to spend hours wandering around, building to your heart’s delight, and although I found the missing features annoying, this does do the job of giving you Minecraft on the go.
Overall, this is either a great first step for newcomers or a nice addition for veterans. It makes great use of the physical controls, has very impressive graphics and is the sort of game that you will still be playing years from now. The irritating lack of content and modes(survival mode- please Mojang!) really holds me back from scoring it as high as it would otherwise deserve, but this still comes with the highest recommendation as a joyful feast of world building on mobile.