I've always had a soft spot for sandbox games that let you do whatever the hell you want. First it was Grand Theft Auto III, then VC, then I found Garry's Mod and San Andreas. Garry's Mod stood out above all the previous ones in that it let me build freely, whatever the hell I wanted to build, and it let me blow it to smithereens when I got bored! As such, I use Garry's Mod as a benchmark to which I compare anything else proporting to be a sandbox. So let's see how Minecraft compares....
First and foremost: My god it looks like arse. I know this game is a beta, but come on. The blocks are enormous. At least make the blocks a quarter the size they actually are or something. Tools/weapons/items held by the player also look horribly, as if you had zoomed in on an emoticon's tool.
If you dig underneath the horrid graphics, however, you find a pretty nice little creative toy. Getting materials is a big tricky, though. In Garry's Mod, I can just hold Q and spawn whatever the hell I want to spawn. In Minecraft I actually have to find it. If it's a complex item, I have to go find the items needed and craft the item. Hence the name, I suppose, what with all the mining and crafting you have to do.
I eventually grew bored of having to turn up half the planet to find the slightest trace of anything useful, however. So I threw in an inventry editor mod which gave me, in effect, Gmod's spawn menu. With the whole mining and crafting aspects thoroughly trashed I could get down to the whole reason I bought the game in the first place: Doom fortresses!
Modding Gmod is easy. Download --> extract to "Addons" --> Start game --> Make naughty pose. Modding Minecraft is a bit trickier. It took me a good 10 or 11 tries before I got anything to work, and Minecraft is insanely version sensitive as to whether or not a mod will work. Additionally, Notch has created one of the cardinal sins of gaming. That is to say he's hidden game files in folders Windows would rather you not be in at all. I would sentence them to trampling under the company's Brontosaurus but it's currently busy with the guy that thought it would be a good idea to invent the first QTE...
Oddly enough the horribly blocky nature of the game and the fact that the world is destructible means you can build some damned epic doom fortresses. I had a habit of finding a nice, long, relatively straight beach and digging down about three or four levels, out about 20 rows or so, then building my base there. I'd take the roof up about two or three levels above the waterline, and I would build a floor in the middle. Two story epicness! Then I'd tunnel my way off to some other location and build a bunker of some sort. Or a portal to hell. Or a room to blow %*(# up in(Thank you bedrock!) It's actually quite fun to carve your home out of a mountainside!
But that's the thing. That's all you can do. Minecraft is a one trick pony. You can only build structures. Doom fortress, vet hospital, open pit Prius battery mine, in the end all you're doing is making a building. Or a really big hole. You can't build a monster truck. You can't build a bomber. You can't replicate meatspin. You can't build an engine. You can't build a fully automatic physics cannon that can lock onto and annihilate things(Though vaguely accurate fixed cannons are possible). You can't build a bulldozer(Though I really thing Notch should add one, it'd make levelling sand/dirt areas extremely easy). You can't build nukes. You can't build cranes. You can't build highly advanced automatic security systems. You can't throw ragdolls across the map with a single boom. Garry's Mod lets you do all of these things, AND lets you build doom fortresses to run them on/display them in/blow up with them/whatever. This is Minecraft's big glaring weak point. The closest you can hope for at the moment is either modding in a hang glider or a minecart.
Personally, I see a boatload of potential in Minecraft. Minecraft embodies everything Garry's Mod is missing, and Garry's Mod embodies everything Minecraft doesn't have. Combine the two and I think we'd have the best sandbox game ever made. But until then, I will stand behind Garry's Mod > Minecraft. I may be having fun with Minecraft, but TBH it's a fleeting fun. I wouldn't even be playing it at all if it wasn't for New Vegas being horribly bugged at the moment. But alas...Now if you will excuse me, I want to recreate the Tunguska event with TNT.
Oh, and I almost forgot, before I blow up 3/4 of a map in one go. If you've never played, go find the wiki and read every single bloody item page on it. Then reread them. Then play the game. Otherwise, you'll end up wandering aimlessly for the first three days with no idea what the hell you're supposed to do. I just jumped right in and I had no idea what was going on. Almost swore the game off entirely.
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