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Platinum Review – Minecraft: PlayStation 3 Edition (PS3)

My third Platinum was the one I felt like I needed to do just purely to make a statement about my Minecraft cred — I have purchased and played this game on PC, Xbox 360, and iOS, in addition to this release.  And I’m going to pay the $5 fee to upgrade this to play on PS4, too.  Obsessed much?

Most of the trophies in the PS3 Edition are ones you would earn through the natural course of Survival Mode, especially if you make a point of completing The End.  There are a few oddballs, though, so don’t be surprised when you’re tasked with running an insanely large rail through the overworld in one direction for one of these.

Best Trophy: The End. (Gold) — even though many people are surprised a game like Minecraft even has an ending, I enjoy that the folks at Mojang (and 4J Studios in this incarnation) have created a complex enough quest to seem worthy. You have to harvest a few rare resources and build the most advanced equipment you can to outlast the Enderdragon, which feels appropriate.  That said, the console version of this boss is a bit less daunting than the PC incarnation, as this one lacks the ability to knock you off the island and into the Void.  The acid breath attack is very cool, but I wish it weren’t the only ability the dragon had.

Worst Trophy: Return to Sender (Gold) — while there’s something very satisfying about killing a Ghast with its own fireball, the spawn rates for Ghasts in this edition are extreme enough that this trophy can present a true exercise in patience (and masochism), as your target’s buddies will try to blow you away while your focus is engaged on only the one.

Special Mention Trophy: When Pigs Fly (Gold) — this trophy is so goofy that it deserved a mention.  The notion of saddling a pig and then discovering you can’t control it, effectively making it useless, is so perfectly Minecraft that there’s little else to say.  (The PC Edition added carrots on sticks eventually, but this is still lacking here.)

Rating: A-  — as I mentioned before, most of the trophies will come naturally through playing the game, and I kind of appreciate that.  But I’m especially glad they’re not automatic, as they were in The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season.  There are ridiculous ones in this title (like killing a skeleton from 50 meters away, nearly the distance it would despawn at), but that’s okay and expected.  I’m excited to do this again for the PS4.

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Written by Michael

31 August 2014 at 11:40 am

Posted in Games, Reviews

Tagged with , ,

Snap Judgment – Minecraft: PlayStation 3 Edition (PS3)

I can’t believe how many times I’ve bought this game, in one form or another.: the PC edition back when it was still in Beta, the iOS Pocket Edition, the Xbox 360 Edition, and now the PlayStation 3 Edition.  (I intend to get it for PS4 as well.  I know, I’m sick.  At least the cross-upgrade price is only $5.)  In any case, here are my thoughts on this console iteration of one of the most successful titles in history:

Given that Minecraft plays much like any first-person game, the translation to console was relatively straightforward: mapped the WASD controls to the left-analog stick, and then mapped the mouse-based camera control to the right-analog stick, then put the mouse-button clicks on the triggers. And this all works very well.

The larger problem is how to deal with crafting: Minecraft on PC requires that you “draw” out the items you’re making in the crafting area.  For example, an iron sword would be a stick on the bottom forming a handle, and two ingots forming the blade atop that.  This is all done with the mouse, and despite its ill-defined nature (there are no in-game explanations, forcing you to rely on a wiki instead), it really works on PC once you get the hang of it.  But mapping this kind of thing to a gamepad would feel sloppy, no doubt.  Instead, 4J Studios (the company responsible for the creation of this port) opted to redo the entire crafting system, wherein you select the exact item you’re trying to make, and the game tells you which ingredients you need to do so.  There is no guesswork or need to cross reference.

This sense of curation extends to almost every level of the game, including how character skins and texture packs work.  Unlike PC Minecraft, where those things are free, downloadable, and fully customizable, the console editions fall under the jurisdiction of licensing; thus, these packs need to be created and approved by 4J Studios directly.  Sadly, this also makes them paid DLC, but to the developers’ credit, many of these are well done despite the annoyance.

Another difference is that console Minecraft is missing a lot of the content found in its PC cousin, which receives updates several times per year — as such, it often feels like you’re a few versions behind.  Further still, PC Minecraft is functionally infinite in size, whereas the console edition is bound to 864 meters by 864 meters.  This still feels like a large area in normal gameplay, unless you’re in the mood to explore, in which case it doesn’t take long to run into an invisible wall.

The End plays out a little differently too; console Minecraft’s Ender Dragon uses a couple different kinds of acid breath attacks, whereas PC Minecraft features  an Ender Dragon who swoops down to collide with you, often knocking you off high areas and killing you.  While the console edition is more creative, I found it a bit easier as well and never felt like I was in any danger during the battle itself.

That said, console Minecraft has some advantages, too.  PC Minecraft is notoriously difficult to fine tune to find the perfect balance between things like draw distance, particle effects, and lighting, against things like frame rate.  There are countless guides for the PC version recommending which toggles to adjust in the game, and which Java command arguments to add to the Java Control Panel to allocate more RAM to it (i.e. things like java -Xmx1024M -Xms1024M).  In this way, console Minecraft is far easier to deal with: it’s just works the way it’s supposed to, no tweaking required.  That’s not to say there aren’t seldom performance issues, especially when opening a chest, which leads to a brief stutter.  This doesn’t break the game, but you will notice it as you’ll be in and out of inventory all the time.  Despite the game’s retro graphics, there are heaps and heaps of calculations going on all the time, given its procedural generation.

Despite the deficiencies when comparing the console version and its PC counterpart, Minecraft: PlayStation 3 Edition (as well as the nearly identical Xbox 360 Edition) is a tremendously fun game.  I have high hopes that 4J will continue to make updates to the game in an admittedly vain effort to keep pace with what Mojang is doing on PC; I especially hope to see a way for maps to stay persistently online even when the host is not, as it is on Minecraft servers for PC users.

It’s hard to find a better way to spend $19.99 on a downloadable game, for all the hours you’ll spend on it.  I know I did in pursuit of my third Platinum Trophy.  A

Written by Michael

16 June 2014 at 12:35 am

Posted in Games, Reviews

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