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When Minecraft: Pocket Edition was announced as an exclusive for the Xperia Play, block-builders the world round collectively wept. How long would it be before we could all run from Creepers, beat up sheep for their wool, or build giant structures to worship your favorite Android mascot?
It might have felt like forever, but Minecraft: Pocket Edition is finally available for all Android devices, and it's actually pretty cool (despite how feature-limited it is).
If you've ever played Minecraft on a PC (or even if you haven't), Minecraft: Pocket Edition will look pretty familiar. Everything is nice a blocky and retro-inspired, and it runs quite well. In lieu of actual physical controls, there's an onscreen directional pad with a jump button in the middle of it.
To place blocks, tap somewhere close to you. In the same vein, holding a block close to you will bring up a circle, and when the circle is filled, the block will be destroyed. Currently, there's no tools to destroy things, so everything is destroyed with your bare hands (Chuck Norris-style).
There's also no harvesting of items that you've destroyed. Instead, you have an inifinite amount of supplies, but only the supplies that the game gives you. Tapping the three circles on your item bar brings up the list of blocks (and other assorted goodies), and then you can pick three from there. I'm a bit disappointed TNT isn't included by default, and once crafting is (re)introduced, that'll be the first thing I make.
The controls are fairly tight, although the lack of precision on placing blocks when trying to balance a tablet can become a little frustrating. The camera is no different than the non-pocket edition, and the blocky, first-person interface is still top-notch.
Also missing from this early alpha are day/night cycles, and with that, bad guys. I really wanted to run and blow myself up next to a Creeper (cause hey, that never gets old), but there's none of them to be found. Zombies are suspiciously absent as well, along with all of the farm animals you beat up for their delicious meats, eggs, and wool.
You can still play with friends as long as you're all on the same wireless network, but otherwise, you're flying solo. Minecraft: Pocket Edition also sidesteps the normal Minecraft servers entirely, so you can have any name you want (for now).
Overall, Minecraft: Pocket Edition is a bit underwhelming, especially when there's so much on the desktop version that's missing from the mobile experience. I know it's an early alpha, but for $6.99, I was personally expecting more. That being said, it's still kind of a technical marvel, having such an open sandbox running on mobile devices.
If you just can't live without your Minecraft when you're not at home, we've got download links after the break.
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