Posted by Ben Harding
Going deeper underground?
The much beloved PC indie hit Terraria has finally made the jump to Xbox Live Arcade, and within the first few minutes of playing you get a sense that Re-Logic have done a good job in making the switch.
There are many titles available to the console-based mining enthusiast right now, but aside from it’s wonderful 2D stylings there are a lot of quirks to set Terraria apart from the crowd. Obviously it has the main digging, building and crafting functions as most of it counterparts, but you can throw unicorns, zombies, giant flying eyeballs and massive killer skeletons into that mix as well. Indeed, a lot of attributes within Terraria that make it feel at times more like the 2D adventure titles of old, than the time absorbing creative outlet it has the potential to be.
If co-op is your thing, then you and a up to three (offline splitscreen) or up to seven (online) players can hack away at the evil beasties and sometimes - given the astounding difficulty of some of your foes - this seems to be a necessity if you plan on staying alive. Many players will find that this is where the console version comes into it’s own. Depending on which difficulty level you’re playing on, dying will have various consequences, from losing your cash on the lower levels, to starting completely from scratch as you reach the higher end. Of course, none of this matters until you’ve decided what material you should make the west-wing of your giant, screen hogging castle out of.
While the controls are exactly what they need to be, building giant structures brick by brick can be somewhat tedious without the super-accurate cursor control you get from the PC release. Once you have put the finishing touches to building these monolithic structures, you’re also left with a lesser sense of depth and awe you would get from most building titles, mainly because the only way you can step back and appreciate your masterpiece in all it’s glory is by viewing it in the world map mode - and that doesn’t quite have the same feel to it as actually just taking a regular step back.
The lack of any direction whatsoever will be offputting to some players - but this can be said of so many sandbox type games. To others, it will give them the freedom they desire to do what they want with the tools provided, be it building, mining, farming or fighting the forces of darkness. At a somewhat steep 1200 Microsoft Points though you have to work out whether Terraria is really what you’re looking for, especially when there are many fine Minecraft indie clones available for much less, if you’re a casual miner, or the official 360 version of Minecraft for the more devoted builder for only a fraction more.
Terraria is a fantastic game for those with patience and a creative streak, and you do get a lot of play for your money, but you’ll have to invest a lot of time to glean the full rewards. The styling is both eye and ear-pleasing and everything is smooth and intuitive, but a title like this has to immerse you in it’s world to keep the less persistent player interested, and unfortunately at times, it misses that mark. Good, but not essential.