- Platform: Xbox One
- Published by: Microsoft Games Studio
- Developed by: Double Helix Games, Rare LTD
- Genre: Fighter
- ESRB Rating: T For Teen
- Number of Players: 1, Online multiplayer 1-2
- Release Date: November 22nd, 2013
I was debating which game to review first for a while now, then it came to me that the choice was pretty obvious. Killer Instinct was a direct blast from my past and it’s the game that generated the most excitement for me when I saw that it was coming back. When I brought my Xbox One home the first thing I did was cue up the Killer Instinct download. And since that time I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with the game. New to the helm of Killer Instinct, Double Helix Games has their first chance at making a name for themselves. So how does their attempt work out out?
The first thing you’ll notice with Killer Instinct is the fact that there are only six characters to choose from. One of the more interesting ideas with this new version is the fact that it’ll get multiple seasons of support. Two new characters and a story mode for each character are coming in March of 2014. Don’t let the number of players at launch or a lack of a story mode fool you into thinking there is a lack of content though.
The pay scale is something that is also new and a little confusing for some people. Basically you can download the game and access every part of it for free. The catch is that you’re stuck with Jago in everything you do, not that he’s a bad character or anything though. You can buy the complete first season for $19.99, which comes with all six characters. You could buy only the characters you want for $4.99 each. I didn’t understand this option until I realized I only use a couple of characters in fighting games. So it’s an interesting option to offer people. There is also a $40 option which gets you all of the characters, extra skins for those characters, and it comes with the complete arcade version of the original Killer Instinct. I’m happy to say that arcade version also comes with a full complement of 1000 Gamerscore.
The six characters available at the start are Jago, Orchid, Sabrewulf, Thunder, Glacius and the new character Sadira. Spinal and Fulgore are scheduled to be released in January and March of 2014 respectively. I personally took a liking to Sabrewulf as he is a quicker fighter and has a pretty good reach with his attacks.
I hadn’t really gotten into a fighting game since the Genesis and Super Nintendo days. I think part of the reason for that was because back then you’d play your friends or family locally on a sofa and there were no internet connections to lag you up. I’m happy to say Killer Instinct has the best hit detection and online play of any fighting game I’ve ever played. The netcode on this game is a thing of beauty, and though people might poke fun of the use of the term “The Cloud”, this is definitely an instance where it’s obviously helping this game tremendously.
The original voice actor is back and the sound is better than ever. When you hear “Awesome Combo!”, you’ll know exactly what game you’re playing. The character models are new, but familiar in every sense. The particle effects are mind blowing to say the least. There are so many interesting things going on at the same time that sometimes you’ll lose yourself just looking around and end up on the ground. If you’ve never played a Killer Instinct game this is the perfect one to jump into because it covers all the basics of combat. It actually goes really in depth with the training modes as well. If you ever thought fighting games sort of left you to figure out everything on your own, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how Killer Instinct is actually a very inviting fighting game.
Though it does lack a story mode, Killer Instinct has a full Training mode and a separate Dojo mode that teaches you everything you’d ever want to know The Killer Instinct formula is back, the traditional Combo Breakers are still as awesome as they ever were. A new feature is the counter breaker, where you can break someones counter attack. These are the tougher things to master where Killer Instinct is concerned. Don’t let that throw you off though, it doesn’t take long from Dojo to online modes you’ll be busting Combo’s and Combo Breakers in no time.
If you were looking for some practice against A.I before you brave the world of online fighting, you can always jump into Survival mode, which is basically you fighting every character over and over again. It reminded me of how Mortal Kombat used to play. It’s still the best way to tune your skills and pick which character you’re best with. One of the things that can’t be understated is how different each character is. Usually in fighting games characters tend to not differ from each other. Killer Instinct is a game of skill, so you wont have to worry about someone button mashing their way to victory over you.
When you can put 30+ hours into a fighting game during the first week of its release you know you’ve got something special going on. I wasn’t sure I liked the idea of having to wait for content seasons, but I feel like I’ve plenty to keep me occupied in Killer Instinct until that point and time. The fact that I’m able to put so much time into the game before the story mode is even out says a lot about the level of fun this game has to offer everyone. If you’re a hardcore fighting game fan you’ll perhaps think about picking up the official Fight Stick for the game, but if you’re not looking to drop $200 on a Fight Stick right now, you can always just use the Xbox One’s much improved D-Pad. I actually love using the D-Pad on this game, it works really well.
At the end of the day Killer Instinct wont score as high as some traditional fighting games that see a full retail release, but the amount of content it does have for the price tag of $20 is impressive. Being able to finally compete online and not have to worry about host advantage or terrible net coding is also something that should draw in a lot of people. Finding matches is quick and easy, and saying “Xbox record that” when you’ve pulled off an epic Combo Breaker is a fun way to document your time with the game. Considering everyone can download this game for free, and even play others online with that free version. I highly recommend Killer Instinct.