After an inevitably long hiatus, Rare’s classic fighting game being developed by Double Helix Games, Killer Instinct, makes a return to the fighting game scene. If you were born in the 80s or even 90s (maybe you have an older sibling) and were into video games, you’ve probably heard of Killer Instinct.
Killer Instinct borrows from both the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat series. One of its more distinguishing features is the Combo Breaker. If you’ve ever heard or read anyone say “C-C-C-Combo Breaker!” it’s from Killer Instinct. When I demoed Killer Instinct on an arcade cabinet on the show floor I didn’t exactly know what I was getting into. Was it going to be for the most part unchanged, or was it going to be very different from the original two games? While I was very young when I had last played Killer Instinct, it appeared to remain true to its roots, except “No Mercy” and “Ultimate Combo” moves were nowhere to be found, as they were deemed unnecessary.
Unlike other fighting games, the focal point of Killer Instinct is the combos. After a certain amount of hits, the announcer will yell “QUAD!”, “AWESOME!” or “MASTER!” along with the text which maintains that focus. One of the only fighting games I consider myself competent with is Street Fighter IV but even I was able to perform some interesting combos in Killer Instinct. However, I doubt it’s anything compared as to what someone who actually knows what they are doing can do. The visuals of Killer Instinct are absolutely brutal. While not as gory as Mortal Kombat and not as clean as Street Fighter, the game hits the mark somewhere in the middle. When fireballs explode on impact it leaves an insane spectacle of particles in the air, much like fireworks. Every move has a distinct feel to them that lets you sense the power of the blow; something that’s hard to see and needs to be performed to realize.
It had been announced that Jago, Sabrewulf, and Glacius would be in the game, but the playable demo only let you play as Jago and Sabrewulf. The interesting thing about Killer Instinct is that it will be free to download upon launch on the Xbox One. Player can download a demo that features Jago as a playable character but can opt to purchase character packs. This is an excellent alternative for more casual players who don’t want to spend a full $60 on a game they don’t plan on playing seriously. On the other hand, those who are looking to get into the competitive fighting game scene for Killer Instinct will have the option to purchase the full game for retail price and have access to all of the fighters. This is something that has never been done in a game before so it will be interesting to see if this actually becomes a popular method of delivering a game.
Since Killer Instinct will be exclusive to the Xbox One, my only real concern is how it will function in the competitive scene. Having to “check in” every 24 hours may become a nuisance in setting up a game tournament. It’s difficult enough setting up x amount of consoles for a tournament but now you have to worry about having an internet connection for the consoles to even function. If a venue at which a tournament is being held doesn’t have Wi-Fi, a mobile hotspot may suffice. Another workaround to having the ability to play a game for extended periods of time may be making sure that each console belongs to someone so that they may sign in on their own accounts and allow for 24hrs offline play, otherwise, only one hour of play would be allowed if logged on to a separate console. On top of what you need to play the game aside from the console and digital game (literally on top) you’d have to bring a Kinect as well. There may different methods of accommodating for a tournament in the future but it is yet unknown. Glacius has been announced to be playable at Evo 2013 so we will have to wait and see how they set everything up.
Killer Instinct shows a lot of potential. It’s being debuted with an interesting premise of “play before you buy” and with the added addition of Twitch streaming on the Xbox One it can be increasingly popular. However, certain limitations may hinder its initial reception. Who knows whether or not Microsoft will facilitate setting up events like a tournaments in the future but it would be an undoubtedly welcome addition.
Killer Instinct will be available sometime this November when the Xbox One officially launches.