This writer finally got his anxious hands on an Xbox One and the first thing he did was get set up with the new Killer Instinct. Heck yeah! So let’s get into it. Is this game an Awesome Victory or more of a Humiliation?
First off, let’s just say the game wastes no time getting you all pumped up to play it, as we are welcomed by the familiar yet reworked and updated title and select screen music. A quick selection of Sabrewulf and we’re off and running. Right off the bat, I am wickedly impressed with how smooth and fast the combat is. I can genuinely say that this is the first console game that has ever made me feel like I was playing an arcade machine. That’s big points in my opinion; nothing quite like an arcade experience right at home.
I have to give a nod to the overall presentation seen in this game. Killer Instinct really delivers in every department. Remember those rockin’ techno-metal tunes playing throughout the levels? Check. The music here is good. Like really good. It totally helps to set the pace for ripping into someone with a 1,000 hit combo. The graphics are incredibly slick and detailed, right down to Jago’s tattoo glowing and moving (?) as a fight progresses. Flashes of special moves and exploding particle and light effects are rampant and there is no slowing down to be had. The level design is exceptional and there are so many things going on, I’m still seeing things I haven’t before. Lots of cool environmental effects occur when, for example, you pull off an Ultra Combo to finish a match. And by cool environmental effects, I mean like when you’re at a graveyard and all the ghosts rise from the grave to watch the punishment inflicted on your opponent. Fights are fast and furious and they look great.
In reference to the fighting engine, it’s the Killer Instinct you remember and hold dear, but polished like you would not believe. Pre-tutorial, I was pulling off flashy combos, a Combo Breaker or two, and even hitting an Ultra Combo here and there. It’s familiar enough to dive right in, but fresh enough to leave you room to learn. Upon spending some time in the Master mode, KI’s training dojo, I discovered there was a lot for me to learn. Master mode is great, by the way, whether you’re brushing up on your skills or playing for the first time. Really, it seems the sky is the limit so long as you follow some basics. A little practice and you’ll be pulling off crazy shadow 50 hit combos like it’s second nature, as the controls are impressively tight, fast, and easy to pick up.
Who returns? Any new players? Xbox Live offers various bundles to flesh out your roster however you like, but I will say, if you pay for the Complete Bundle, not only will you get every character and all of their retro costumes, but you get the original Killer Instinct and Killer Instinct 2 along with it, all for the price of what you’d pay for any normal game anyway. Killer Instinct has been through Season 1 and Season 2 is currently active, with a Season 3 in the pipeline for an early 2016 release. In the mix currently is every character from both original KI and KI2, except for Tusk and Kim Wu, who look to be headed our way for Season 3.
Not to be left out are the new additions, such as Sadira the spider-blade-hood lady, and Hisako, who is like a mix between the girl from The Ring and the spirits in The Grudge, among others like an Earth elemental, a mummy-sorcerer-guy, and an Ultron-esque lady. True to Killer Instinct fashion, every character plays uniquely and has you playing differently with each one you pick. This keeps the combat fresh and fun to experiment with and the balance feels right; no one character seems to be weaker or stronger than anyone else, just different.
Okay, so we have a solid, sleek, and well-polished fighter here, what about bells and whistles? As I mentioned, the ability to get retro costumes is available, as is the classic announcer audio and music. Access to both classic games is much appreciated, but quite honestly, I didn’t want to stop playing the new Killer Instinct. There are a plethora of unlockables, like color variations, things to customize your profile with, and taunts. With ongoing tweaks and additions being put into the game, we’ll be seeing more playable characters, more ways to finish an opponent, and who knows what else yet to come. Killer Instinct really is a complete package.
I really can’t say enough good things about this game. As a huge fan from back in the day, my hopes and expectations were incredibly high for this go round, and Killer Instinct delivered big time. It is everything I had hoped and then some. Way more than a nostalgic ride, Killer Instinct walks the tightrope of being both true to the series and breaking new ground. Whether a newcomer or an old vet, I highly recommend this game to any fighting game fans out there. It is most certainly a Supreme Victory! Fight on!