Block Earth is a new building/exploration app in the style of Minecraft. It features beautiful graphics and the ability to fly over your creations with a jetpack, but its lack of multiplayer, crafting and adversaries makes this more of a toy than a game.
Block Earth is a universal iOS app that turns you loose in a never ending series of customizable landscapes. If you can dream it, you can build it; that is, as long as you dream in symmetrical cubes. There is a decent amount of texture options to build with, but none behave differently than any other, including water. That's right; water is just another texture and can be walked across without the use of either divine power or the in-game jetpack. Yes, Block Earth has a jet pack. It also has a rocket launcher for blowing things up. Both of these are truly unique additions to this genre, and are quite enjoyable for those times when you want to take a look at your creation, or feel more like destroying than creating. That's Block Earth in a nutshell. There are no adversaries stalking you, compelling you to build shelter, no mining/treasure hunting, and no multiplayer. Hopefully, these things will come in time, but for now, Block Earth is much more of a software toy than a true game. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If you're a gamer who enjoys stress-free solo building and exploration, this game is absolutely for you. If you're not, however, there's nothing to see here; move along.
Block Earth may not be feature-rich, but it is certainly beautiful. Between the lighting and shadow effects and the variety of textures, Block Earth is visually very satisfying. My only complaint in this department is the draw distance; which should be larger, or at least user-adjustable. If my 3rd generation iPad can drive a game like Infinity Blade II, it should be able to make mincemeat out of Block Earth.
The sounds of Block Earth are minimal, and rudimentary. Not that a game like this needs to make a lot of noise, but some variation would be nice, as would some sort of relaxing soundtrack.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
Block Earth offers a variety of texture packs for purchase in-game, as well as a Super Jetpack. Each of them are $1, but can be purchased together in the Essentials Pack for $3 (a $1 savings). This is not an unreasonable use of IAPs, and the cost of owning everything is still less than $5 so Block Earth is still a good value if it's your cup of tea. My only objection here, is one that I have raised previously; It's always better to purchase a full unlocked game rather than rely on the developer to restore your purchase if you ever need to reinstall. Developers come and go, and being at their mercy to unlock previously unlocked content puts the end-user at risk of finding themselves cut off from their content.
Block Earth, as it stands now, is not a game, but more of a software building toy. It excels at this, however, so if you're looking for a stress-free way to customize a world, Block Earth may be for you. If you are looking for something with actual gameplay, though, you may be happier looking elsewhere.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - A good looking world building game. Sound: - 1 - Not much to listen to, here. Controls: - 3.5 - Moving around is dead simple, and the jetpack is a fun way of surveying your creations. I would like to see more building options available on-screen as it gets tedious returning to the build palette over and over. Gameplay: - 3 - No actual gameplay here, but as a world-building software toy, Block Earth delivers.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Dive in and start building! There is nothing to harm you here, and all mistakes are easily repaired. Tunneling a cave kingdom is slightly easier than constructing buildings so this may be a good place to start.