Friday, April 5, 2013

Minecraft, Terraria, and a New Breed of (Literal) Sandboxes

With a lack of new releases on the horizon, beside expensive games that I cannot yet afford, I'm turning my tail to a classic game that I hope everyone will recognize instantly. Or, to a new genre that was brought about by the indi-classic game, Minecraft. Lovers of Minecraft and all things related to it will know how time-consuming, and addicting, the game can be. Often times I find myself staring at my PC for hours without knowing how much time has gone by, once I open the silly little window. Being consumed by a game is nothing new to most gamers, though, and certainly, the famous Minecraft shouldn't be anything new, either. However, it might be news to some people that Minecraft has practically spawned a new genre of gaming all on it's lonesome. Que in Terraria, the two-dimensional sister of the well-popular Minecraft, and the game that I actually got hooked on well before I even got my hands on the other sandbox.

A screenshot from my own Terraria home-world.
The concept behind Terraria is simple. You're a person who has spawned in a world with plentiful resources, and you must use those resources to survive, or better yet, to become the king (or Queen!) of that little space of the world you inhabit. You start off much the same way you would in a Minecraft world, punching trees until your knuckles bleed to build your first little wooden hut to avoid getting eaten by Zombies as night falls. Once you've established yourself, though, the world presents a multitude of opportunities to build, create, and function in this little slice of Earth you call yours.

Because Terraria is set on two dimensions instead of three, there are several pluses, and even some minuses, that make it a worthwhile game to buy. First of all, since the worlds are not absolutely massive, or rendered in a 3-D environment, the game itself is much easier on PC's, loads quicker, and has a smoother multiplayer. The maps are easier to explore, considering it's hard to get lost in a 2-D plane, and this often makes the game move faster, as one will not find themselves trekking all the way to kingdom come just to find the first boss battle. Speaking of bosses, Terraria has no shortage of them, and the majority of the monsters can be summoned more than once. On top of that, the number of items, and the uses those items hold far outnumber the few items that Minecraft can produce, making room for more than just four tiers of weapons, armor, and crafting materials. Even useful NPC have a chance of spawning in your Terraria world, which will sell you various items you could not otherwise obtain. Still, many prefer the world of Minecraft because of it's creative function, cheats, free flying, and harder difficulty, which Terraria does not produce as well. However, from my point of view, both games are simply the root and stem of an entirely new genre of sandbox that could be introduced sometime in the next few years, and survival games should never be viewed in the same light, again.

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