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Full user review
"Get what you pay for! $26 and you're in!"
My 11-year-old son is addicted to this game. He's able to concentrate for hours without medication and has created incredible building designs. This game also nurtures his independence. He has experienced a great learning curve and had a blast doing it. Now he's meeting others -- you can play singleplayer or multi-player -- and is continuing to grow and be proud of what he's accomplishing. I've played with him a few times and it can be a lot of fun.
The biggest issue I have with Minecraft is the absence of a good manual. Someone has cobbled together a MINECRAFT FOR DUMMIES that you can download for about $7, but it's very basic. This demands a more comprehensive manual -- not about game play, which is easy to pick up or read up on. Rather, after you play a while, you'll want to try one or two modifications ("mods") that can smooth action or graphics, change textures, add themes, etc. These can be fun, but there is a considerable learning curve in figuring out what folders to open and what files to place where. Most folks who offer instructions inadvertantly leave something out. Once in a while, you'll find a good YouTube video or blog entry on how to install a mod. But then, as we were finally getting it, we found out that certain mods are incompatible with multi-player servers (which are tricky to set up), or maybe every player who's going to join a server has to have a certain mod or maybe lose one, etc.
This stuff is arcane, and I have yet to find a comprehensive source that enables one to install these things right the first or second time.
Although the modification process can be a huge pain in he butt, it's doable and often worthwhile, but don't count on rushing through mod installations. Even after four or five, you'll inevitably come up against some incompatibility. There's a reason most installation instructions warn you start with a clean Minecraft, which is simple to download anytime you launch. I'd recommend you back-up Minecraft versions that work well, and always start with a fresh Minecraft when you install a new mod. If it works for a while, you can add the mod permanently to your main working minecraft
The technical frustrations apply to more advanced aspects. The basic game is simple to download, install, and play. This is a very fun game for imaginative kids from all over the world. But also be forewarned: as there are in life, so are there jerks on Minecraft. They're called "griefers" and they will destroy what you've spent hours building just because they can. If you notify the admins, can (and do) ban the culprits. Also, there are strategies and tactics you can read about on hiding resources, and even mods that can prevent such destruction.
Bottom line, though, this has to be some of the best money I've ever spent on my son's gaming.