Minecraft Spotlight: the month's best mods, maps and texture packs
We've previously brought you our picks for Minecraft's 25 best mods and maps, but the game's passionate and talented community of creators are a fast moving bunch. Thanks to the rapid flow of new content, it's easy to miss some real gems. Hence this, the Minecraft Spotlight, highlighting some of the best recent releases that might have otherwise slipped into the Nether.
This month: biff, bash and bosh your way through mobs, find a use for those 46,656 spare strips of rotting zombie flesh, escape a giant block of flats in the sky, explore a gorgeous land for bits of wool, and coat the game in a fresh lick of RPG-inspired paint.
Be sure to check the installation instructions on each item's download page. Everything here works with the latest version of Minecraft (1.4.7), although for the mods, you'll need to install the Forge modloader first.
Fed up with the harsh, unforgiving scrabble for materials that is vanilla survival? Super Heroes lets you revel in the power fantasy of mutants, gods and uber-rich playboys with nothing better to do. It adds new weapons and armour, all enhanced to grant you the powers of Marvel's Avengers squad.
The mod includes Hulk pants, for ground flattening super jumps and a land-tearing Hulk Smash; Iron Man's suit, enabling flight, rockets and rapid-fire bullets; Thor's hammer, which can summon lightning or be thrown for a devastating explosive attack; and Captain America's - er - shield and gun. Bit of an anti-climax, that one.
Each item can be crafted with new recipes, but the mod works well with inventory editor Too Many Items if you just fancy playing about. One word of warning: the mod's powers are highly tailored for massive destruction. Saving people isn't quite as feasible.
Download Super Heroes in Minecraft here.
Mod: Condensed Blocks
Here's a neat way to reduce the amount of detritus that inevitably builds up in your inventory after extended sessions of mining and adventuring. The Condensed Blocks mod takes the idea of Minecraft's gem blocks and expands it to include many of the incidental materials you pick up in the world.
For example, laying out nine cobblestone blocks in a crafting table will create a condensed cobblestone block. The mod goes further still, letting you condense these condensed blocks (yo dawg), all the way up to extreme condensed cobblestone. Fully stack extreme blocks and you can fit 46,656 cobblestone blocks into a single inventory slot. Never mind the Super Heroes mod, Steve's already packing super-strength trousers.
The mod can condense everything from building materials, to food and mob drops, and each one has a new custom texture. It also supports a selection of other mods, including Industrial Craft and Railcraft.
Download Condensed Blocks here.
Adventure Map: Paranoia
1.4's Command Blocks are fast proving to be one of Minecraft's most significant additions. For adventure map makers they're a huge boon, as proven beautifully by Paranoia. Through the maps automated console commands, players will experience a theme appropriate teleportation system, clever puzzles and a repurposed XP system that ties achievement to progress.
But even without this clever behind-the-scenes engine, Paranoia is an accomplished adventure. You play as Michael Estrange, a test participant for a housing project in the sky. When strange things start happening around the floating flats, you must escape and find your way to the mysterious technology that powers it.
Download Paranoia here.
CTM Map: From Ashes
CTM (Complete the Monument) maps strike a nice balance between the community's traditional adventure and survival creations. More sandbox oriented than the rule-heavy adventure maps, they're nevertheless more detailed and directed than pure survival maps; the most popular of which is basically just a few blocks stuck up in the sky.
From Ashes is a massive, gorgeously designed world full of tricky dungeons, hidden secrets and unique encounters. It's still completely open-world, letting you break, craft and build whatever and wherever you please. You're also free to choose the order you complete the map's ultimate objective: collecting 16 woollen blocks to unlock the atomic shelter hidden below the island.
Download From Ashes here.
Texture Pack: WEEDfaction
WEEDfaction is partially inspired by the DokuCraft texture pack, albeit with an aim to make it "less depressing". There's a flavour of old-school RPGs, but with lighter, sparser texture patterns that prevent the claustrophobic feel of the more complex reskins.
It's a nicely balanced overhaul, significantly changing the look of the game without overpowering its style.
Download WEEDfaction here.