Mar 27, 2013

Terraria (XBLA/PSN) Review

Lights Off
4 Awesome
Retails for: $14.99
We Recommend: $14.99
  • Developer: Engine Software BV
  • Publisher: 505 Games
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie, RPG
  • Released: May 27, 2013
  • Platform: Xbox 360
  • Reviewed: Xbox 360

For those who haven’t played before, Terraria is similar to games like Minecraft where you’re given the reigns to explore an open world. You embark on a quest to use the environment to create tools, build objects with said tools, dig down deep/build high up into the sky, find interesting areas, and play with your friends online; these are all things that you would expect in this genre of game. Terraria sets itself apart here by having the players explore the world in pixel based 2D. You move from left to right exploring this randomly generated world while avoiding zombies and monsters at night and annoying little slimes during the day. The game starts you off with basic tools to get started, things like an axe, pickaxe, and sword so you can chop down trees, dig dirt, and defend yourself. Pro tip to anyone playing, build a house first and foremost once in the game or you’re going to regret going into that first night without shelter.

This isn’t everything Terraria has in store though, you’re tasked with digging as deep as you can to find secrets and treasure used to create stronger and more powerful items to equip. You’re not doing this just because either, you’ll need these weapons to fight off boss monsters for better loot and to explore different regions with stronger enemies. Speaking of which, there are a variety of different enemies to encounter so it’s best you don’t go alone. Terraria is an even better experience multiplayer, you will want your buddies to come assist you. In the PC version of the game you had to connect the old fashioned way, through IP. This made it quite the hassle for multiplayer games with people who didn’t quite understand how to connect in that fashion.  But once in, it was a fun way to get together with eight friends and traverse your world.

Things haven’t changed much on Terraria’s transition to consoles, which is a good thing. Everything you expect is here. The monsters, the bosses, the charming 2D pixel art style, and the multiplayer exploration. What has been added though is the ability to use a controller, split screen multiplayer, and the ease of Xbox Live or PSN friend invites. In it’s transition to joysticks and buttons, Terraria has not lost much of it’s feel. In fact I quite prefer to use the controller in this game for better control of my character. I know a few of you are questioning right about now how the mouse controls are handled and it’s not bad, so don’t get your undies all twisted.

In the PC version you used the mouse cursor to select which blocks to remove/place and used it to navigate your inventory. On the game pad you’re using the right stick to move an onscreen cursor around. They’ve given you two options here for control. The default option sticks the cursor to the closest object on the same plane as your character. You use the joystick to “aim” where you want the action to be performed but once you let go of the stick, it jumps back to center position and you’re aiming at the closest object again. I found this to be very useful for clearing out dirt from where I was standing, creating flat ground. It’s not quite as useful for building objects as it can get finicky about where it’s placing blocks, You’ll end up stacking things two to three blocks high when you actually wanted to lay it flat. This is where the second control method comes in. With a click in of the right stick you switch to an advanced mode that will function more like a mouse. You move the on screen cursor around and you can pick whatever object you’d like to interact with as long as it’s within about two character widths from you. If you need the extra precision to place an object down or to dig at something behind what’s in front of you, this is what you need to be using. I found that I was using a combination of both methods making my play experience on par, if not better than that on the PC.

In the menus, you don’t get that instant control like you did with a mouse so things had to be adjusted. To pull up the menu, use the Y button and you’re presented with an overlayed screen with the different sections. Using the LB/RB switches between crafting, your inventory, your characters wearable equipment, and even a menu showing all the residents that have moved into your land.  In the crafting screen you have a tab for crafting items, one for tools, weapons, and so on. It feels a little cumbersome to use with triggers, LB/RB, and left/right on the joystick moving things and at first it’s easy to get confused what’s supposed to move what. Yes there is the “legend” at the bottom of the screen but when you’re in a hurry to pop in and out because the game still moves in real time, it’s easy to hit the wrong ones. What is useful is being able to hot key up to four items on the D-pad that are not in your inventory bar at the top of the screen. What’s a little tiresome is accidentally trying to move an item left or right and forgetting that using the D-pad sets that item as a hot key shortcut.

Multiplayer has been improved for the console release as now you can just invite a friend into your game rather than trying to find each other’s IP. You can play in a private world or make it open for anyone in your friends list to join in. You can play with up to eight players online and up to four players split screen on an HD television so bring the family to your land. The game is still a blast to play multiplayer even when you’re all sharing the same TV, and dare I say maybe even more fun with that social aspect of everyone in the same room. There are times though where the frame rate will dip when there is a lot on screen at once. Not enough to hinder your enjoyment but just enough to become noticeable. In fact, you’ll actually run into this on single player as well while underground with lots of torches and items around. If you press the back button you’re treated to a very nifty map of the world. You’ll see the areas you’ve dug so far and places you’ve explored. Enemies and allies will show up as small icons moving around the map and from here you can choose whether or not to play the game as Player vs Player (PvP). The map is quite possible one of the best new features here in that you can see everything and give you and idea of where you need to go.

There are a few other new additions that you’ll find along your adventures. You’ll find pets that will follow you around and fight by your side, You’ll encounter new enemies, and there is a new final boss that I am no where near coming close too. But that’s okay because at the 10th hour, 20th hour, and even 30th hour of Terraria, you’re going to find new things and new places to explore within your world just like it’s PC counterpart. Terraria is a fantastic game of survival and exploration. The console port has been wonderfully done, and honestly feels as if this is the complete version of Terraria to get. Terraria gave me endless hours of fun on the PC, and the console game will deliver as well but with all that is great with the game, it comes at a price. The console versions are $15 while the retail price on PC is $10. Heck, it’s on sale on Steam at around the $5 during every other sale they have. I do recommend this version of the game though and with the added content and being able to play split screen, I think that’s worthy of an extra fiver.

An Xbox Live Arcade code for Terraria was provided by PR for review purposes