Minecraft. This strange little independent building block game has garnered a lot of attention, most notably for it’s massive build projects and cooperative structure. Now that Minecraft has spread from it’s native PC to the Xperia and an announcement of a winter release for the 360, a number of other titles have come up, building on the basic premise. This series of articles shall peer into these newcomers to the constructive exploration sub-genre to see if they are merely Johnny-come-latelies or if they stand a chance of competing against the original.
The first is FortressCraft. FortressCraft is broken into chapters, Chapter 1 being the only portion out. The first chapter is focused strictly on building. No creepers, no monsters, just a player and their creativity. The level is also scattered with fifteen relics, each of which unlocks a new function. A jetpack allows players to hover, giving them greater ability to complete larger builds, whereas a set of shoes with pontoons grant players the ability to walk on water. While this feels a lot like adding a pointless hunt-and-gather element to this game, it’s not much of a hindrance to enjoying the game.
Visually, the game is much improved to it’s forefather, though the improved textures tend to make individual blocks stand out, rather than blending in with a structure as a whole. The lighting effects also tend to stack in funny ways, making gold blocks bloom so intensely that JJ Abrams wants to use them in the next Star Trek movie. Otherwise, FortressCraft looks quite good.
Audibly, well, not bad. The only real sound, aside from the footsteps and the sunrise musical piece, is an obnoxious hum that relics play to help players locate them, which somehow manages to be the least useful game of Marco Polo ever. Aside from getting a rough sense of a relic’s X/Y coordinates, it’s nearly impossible to locate an object by sound.
Gameplay wise, FortressCraft plays smoothly. The creation engine, which is the game, has a lot of flexibility, and with a little practice, a player can put out virtually anything imaginable, albeit in a jagged, blocky form akin to 3D Dot Heroes, in a matter of a few minutes. Once the relics are collected, it’s possible to do nearly anything. A quick perusal of the worlds other players have built will prove this.
Multiplayer, as is usually the case, is the hook on the matter. It is interesting to hop from world to world to study method or see what insane thing people have created, but the problem usually lies with the people creating these things, or the people who exist solely to ruin others’ fun. While they are varied and prevalent, the few builders that exist are more than willing to contribute to a creative effort.
Overall, FortressCraft, while nowhere near the multi-talented prodigy that Minecraft is, is totally worthwhile as a distraction, and this Examiner is looking forward to the next three chapters in the series.
Spokanites can check out more on FortressCraft at their official website. Those of you who want to get together and litter a map with rude structures can look me up @ OperatorJames on Live Arcade.