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Killer Instinct Review

During the first explosion of versus fighting games on the SNES and Mega Drive generation, for every Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat title there were plenty of really poor alternatives like Pit Fighter or Primal Rage, trying to emulate what was so addictive about those previously mentioned greats. With many arguments over which game was better, each console offering slightly different versions of these hot titles, whichever one you had everyone agreed that little seemed to topple these genre defining games. It was unexpectedly a publisher with very close ties to Nintendo that offered a true alternative; with Rare already proving themselves with a slew of titles on the NES and now making waves on the SNES with Donkey Kong and of course Killer Instinct ( I will ignore Killer Instinct Gold on the N64, that was a massive disappointment). With Microsoft now holding all of Rare’s cards they have shipped duties over to Double Helix, a company that have not really set the world on fire with their previous releases, but fear not, though the release itself is a little light on content, the actual fighting is fast and satisfying.

Anyone who has ever played a fighting game in the past will know exactly what to expect, with a series of light medium and hard kicks and punches that are tied up with some devastating special moves specific to each character. The two big games of the time, Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat are clearly the inspiration here, with special moves galore all set off with near identical button commands and some of the more brutal finishing moves. Rather than just all out copying those titles, Killer Instinct brings to the fold even faster action all bundled together with a huge list of combos that the in game announcer is all too keen to shout about.

The controls and characters are all the same as before, there have been a few omissions; is the game finished or have they sensibly staggered the release for money/development reasons? Well, that is an argument for the comments board, but this version does feel a little light. For your cash you get six playable characters, Jago, Orchid, Sabrewulf, Sadira, Thunder and Glacius, each able to battle it out across their respectable stages. The game modes also feel a little empty, with online battles and local play versus and survival where you just battle against a never ending repeating list of the same six characters. Add to that a Dojo to learn those combo moves and a practice room and it really does not equate to much.

To add a little replayability and a pull to keep you returning there are also some customisation options available via the KI Store, with you earning points by completing in game trails you can purchase some alternative items for you characters to wear, adding a very limited alternative look for your fighters when you venture online.

Though light on the content, the game itself pays just like the old ones, though looking a lot better, with the screen shaking with every attack, particle effects from projectiles spewing all over the level, the game looking fantastic from start to finish.

Killer Instinct is a great fighting game and a logical update on the classic but the whole business side with limited fighters and not including all of the gameplay is a real risk. Killer Instinct will have a lot to prove over the coming months, will the new content revive this or will it be all but forgotten when something new comes out?

Words By Ash Buchanan.

(Version Tested: Xbox One)


+ The music is still fantastic.
+ Very satisfying combos.
+Will only enjoy if you play online or versus at home against a friend.


- The character selection models takes an awkwardly long time to load.
- No story mode.
- A very small character roster.

Edited On 02 Dec, 2013

( 6 )
Pyroloveridge's avatar
Pyroloveridge 3 years ago
Microsoft gave me this for free but its not reviewing great even though i'm a fighting fan, the sheer lack of characters is too suspect.
juvan1le's avatar
juvan1le 3 years ago
@pyroloveridge Dont worry about the character size, having a big numbers doesn't just suddenly make the game good or bad imo, also it is getting good reviews. • IGN - 8.4 / 10 • Venture Beat - 80 / 100 • Games Radar - 4 / 5 • US Gamer - 4 / 5 • OXM - 7.5 / 10 • Edge Online - 7 /10 • Game Reactor - 7 / 10 • Shack News - 7 / 10 • NZGamer - 7.5 / 10 • Game Reactor UK - 7 / 10 • Joystiq - 3 / 5
shiny miller's avatar
shiny miller 3 years ago
Isn't the low character roster just a cynical attempt to make people buy more characters as DLC? I'm sure I heard from somewhere that if you bought the special edition (or perhaps pre-ordered?) you got the extra characters straight away...
Dead's avatar
Dead 3 years ago
The original Rare are spinning in their graves.
Anonymous user's avatar
Ash 3 years ago
I still wish to buy the characters for the game over time but as of right now, I can't bring myself to do so. Was hoping this game would have a story mode, so that's a shame to see. By the time you've bought all the characters, doesn't it price up to a full retail game? Gloria, I think they've been spinning in their graves for a long time.
Anonymous user's avatar
Fabian 3 years ago
I haven't played fighting games that much so might be the "wrong" person to ask. But I really enjoy KI :) The tutorial is awesome for someone like me since it goes through everything. About the character count, I got all 6 characters (+2 for free when released) for $19, which is like 1/3 of a "normal" full game. If you buy each character individually it might get expensive but buying all as a pack isn't. A story mode would be awesome though! :O

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