21 November 2014

REVIEW: LEGO Minecraft

Digging deep.

These days our dear chums at LEGO hold licences to produce a range of toys in various different fictional worlds; from the the battle grounds of Star Wars to the weird happening of the Marvel Universe. But, as with all LEGO creations, these worlds are then recreated in plastic blocks, making them distinctly LEGO-y. Surely it would make sense to make sets from an already blocky and cuboid world. Oh wait, they have. It's LEGO Minecraft!

The video gaming phenomenon that is Minecraft is unique amongst other modern games by not attempting to look modern. The pixelated characters and animals, the blocky landscapes, and the chunky design are... well, absolutely perfect to be recreated in LEGO. There has been great demand for the Danish toy giant to release some Minecraft sets for a while now, and LEGO has delivered and then some. Of the group of new sets, which range in price from £19.99 to £89.99, we were sent The First Night (#21115), a mid-range set that lets you create a house of various designs, and also The Crafting Box (#21116), a bumper pack of bricks and minifigures, allowing builder brains to run wild with creativity.

First up, The First Night. This set includes just over 400 parts, two minifigures (including our hero Steve) and a pig. This set is all about the start of the game and how Steve must build himself a shelter before night falls. After that the creeper will appear, which in this set is represented pretty perfectly with some interesting new pieces.

The house itself took us a joyful hour or so to build, sending our minds back to childhood when all LEGO sets were of houses that you built from the ground up. There are some great details like the transparent window bricks (there's loads of 'em) and the modular roof that can be taken off and used as terrain. In fact the whole range of Minecraft sets feature modular elements which can interconnect with each other.

Playing around and having fun with the layout of the Steve's house must have been forefront in the LEGO designers' minds. Despite this being just a 400+ piece set, the instruction booklet is pretty thick, with about half of it given over to modifications you can make to the interior furnishing, the pig's pen, the terrain design etc. Once you have the basic feel of how Minecraft buildings look, your imagination will run riot.

The Crafting Box expands on this notion. Included are 518 pieces (and when we say pieces, we mean real, good old fashioned blocky pieces) and two minifigures. The entire set can be made into eight different buildings and landscapes - but that is if you follow the included instructions. We found that the Crafting Box was just a great way to get hold of a tonne of LEGO designed specifically for creating Minecraft randomness.

There are some great pieces in there, and although bricks with the likes of TNT printed on them will stand out most, we just loved the sheer amount of open play the normal bricks offered. And that skeleton minifigure is one of the best we've seen in a long time!

So from what we've seen so far of the new Minecraft range we have to say that LEGO have got it just right. Minecraft was already LEGO's digital cousin, and there has yet to be a LEGO license range that looks more like the things and characters it is trying to portray than this. We're really looking forward to seeing more from Minecraft next year.

Right, best build ourselves a shelter - we can hear a creeper hissing!

£39.99 for The First Night
£49.99 for The Crafting Box

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