GAME NAME: Killer Instinct
DEVELOPER(S): Double Helix Games, Rare Ltd., Iron Galaxy Studios, Microsoft Studios
PUBLISHER(S): Microsoft Studios
PLATFORM(S): Xbox One
RELEASE DATE(S): November 22nd, 2013
I have been taking a long and tiresome trip down memory lane, as if I were standing there filling that arcade cabinet with tokens, only hoping to beat the next player. Killer Instinct has been a long time favorite of mine ever since the first arcade hit gamerooms and crowds would flock to its glowing screen. Rare has always had a gem with this game and only took advantage of rekindling it upon the release of the Xbox One.
Double Helix Games was the original company to take the title to the Xbox One with a seasonal installment idea of buying characters as they release. I for one was not a true fan of paying for season passes just to get characters that have been in the Killer Instinct universe since the beginning. One positive was that anyone who didn’t like certain characters could pick and choose which to buy without flooding their roster with unused fighters. Killer Instinct is an Xbox One exclusive that is free to download with Jago as the only playable character, unless you purchase the season pass as I mentioned before or buying characters individually. I waited to review this title until the full Season One was released and all its final features were available, such as it’s Arcade Mode that wasn’t accessible upon the initial release of Killer Instinct. Season One characters are Jago, Sabrewulf, Glacius, Thunder, Spinal, Orchid, Fulgore and a new character Sadira.
Killer Instinct for the Xbox One actually has quite a lot of content for a semi-free-to-play game and will keep any avid fighting fan busy for a long time. For beginners to the franchise, there is a Dojo mode that will walk you through the fighting style of Killer Instinct with possibly the most detailed tutorials ever in a fighting game. The Arcade mode seems horribly rushed when giving it’s fighters a background story to fight for, such as selecting a character then seeing a profile about them. Upon completing the list of fighters in Arcade mode you will see an ending that is just as bland as the beginning intro of the mode. Each character has their own fighting style that will take some serious time learning all their combo options and skills. Of course the biggest attraction to KI was always the overly long Ultra combos, which still have their place in this Xbox One release and can be made insanely long if you become skilled enough to do so. The hardest part to this game is definitely learning how to combo break. Whether its high, medium or a low combo it is tough and to make things worse if your opponent is using manuals in between it will be even harder. Manuals are well timed single button presses that change the combo style without making it obvious and sometimes near impossible to detect. This will make you time out on breaking their combo, in turn leaving you open to all kinds of damage.
The character models are very well detailed and quite possibly over the top in some cases, such as Jago looking like a steroid injected beast. Each character and move animates very well and the stages each have their own events going on as well. With “Next Gen” everyone was all about “particle effects” and Killer Instinct has more than enough particles being splashed around, whether it being fireballs exploding or sparks filling the air upon blocking projectiles. The music is very typical for a Killer Instinct game with its fast paced energy blasted soundtrack and the sound effects are top notch and well done. As for the infamous announcer, well he is just as intense as always with his screaming C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER and naming every combo depending on hit count.
There is a ton of replay value in this game with playing online and/or unlocking new clothing or accessories for your fighter to wear. Some are extremely tough to get and all depends on your skill in the online ranked matches, which have put a serious hurt on my hands trying to raise my rank just a few levels. The online matchmaking system is actually quite frustrating and could take up to 2 minutes to find a match, which most of us don’t want to wait that long. Season Two will be releasing this October adding T.J. Combo and Maya for now and more to come later. Upon the end of Season One, Double Helix Games was purchased by Amazon and Iron Galaxy Studios has taken over to bring us Season Two, with Microsoft Studios keeping a close eye on them for quality.
For anyone who would prefer the disc version of this title, it will actually be released on September 23rd this year for $19.99 and will include all of Season One and T.J. Combo a few weeks early to entice new comers. It is the same price on the Xbox Marketplace for the digital version and I personally would rather have this digitally to be able to play and go without putting in a disc.
Well, Double Helix has done a decent job at giving us that Killer Instinct fix we have been wanting for way too long now. Any fighting fan or old time KI fan will actually love this game more than they might know. It has one of the biggest feelings of accomplishment when you outright destroy your opponent and combo break their every attempt at putting you down. The training mode is by far over the top and will teach you things you never had a clue about within the Killer Instinct fighting system. At $19.99 this is a great price to be able to play as long time favorites, although I would rather have paid $59.99 and received the full roster instead of in seasonal installments.