A Killer History Lesson:
Killer Instinct had a relatively warm welcome during its reveal at E3 2013. The original Killer Instinct was released in arcades in 1994. In 1996, Killer Instinct 2 was released for arcades and was later ported to the Nintendo 64 as Killer Instinct: Gold. Now, as an Xbox One exclusive, you can snag a digital port of the original Killer Instinct (titled as Killer Instinct Classic) in a bundle along with its 2013 sequel Killer Instinct.
Although I never had the privilege to play Killer Instinct (1994) when it was in the arcades, there is always a veteran sensibility when I play any ‘old’ game with a next/current-gen reboot. Even if I missed out on the title during its prime, a haze of nostalgia still sweeps over me. It’s a welcoming sensation and I’m more than happy to have it be from an Xbox One exclusive.
Killer Instinct (2013) starts the narrative off where Killer Instinct 2 left it and leads us through a short but entertaining story. Without purchasing any extras, you are solely limited to Jago as he deals with his crisis of faith. Were you to purchase one of the two combo packs, you’d be graced with five to (eventually) seven extra characters that are planned to have their own stories released sometime in March. Unfortunately, as of now, you’re essentially only given half of a game with the promise that it will be finished soon.
To put it in perspective, the game currently has a total of six characters with a short limited story and has only a few different modes. The game throws you into a dojo, using on Jago, so you may learn the basic of the combat system. Arcade mode, where you are ruthlessly pitted against all of the game’s fighters in a series of one-on-one battles, won’t be released until after all of the characters have been released. Until then, you get Survival mode that pits players against endless waves of CPU enemies to rack up a killer score.
As for multiplayer, the modes are relatively straightforward. You can play locally or online to find some opponents worthy of respect. The online play won’t come without a few hindrances though. Lag, although relatively minimal, can still create a bit of a disruption in the flow of combat and the ability to make complex combos.
Speaking of combos, the combo system in Killer Instinct is by far its strongest aspect. The combo system divides into six buttons, three for punches and kicks. The system designates the weaker hits as an Opener; average hits are labeled as Linker and then the final hit(s) as the strong ender. With this, you can create some rather impressive chains just as long as you can master each technique.
Each hit can hold different animations, effects, and results depending on the distance and learn specific attacks, combo breakers and techniques can really change the course of a fight in a matter of seconds. That being said, the level of satisfaction from the combo system and the efficiency of the tutorial becomes a somber matter when you realize that the dojo, your practice arena, is only limited to Jago and not to the other characters.
All in all, Killer Instinct is an excellent addition to the Xbox One roster even in spite of its limited content. The gameplay is dense and addictive and is one of my top favorites out of the Xbox One exclusives. Despite the average rating, I highly suggest giving this game a try if you’re a fan of fighting games or a fan of the Killer Instinct series. It’s a solid game that simply needs some extra content.