“Killer Instinct” Returns for Blood

Antonio Gamez
Co-Opinions Editor

“C-C-C-C-Combo Breaker!” The legendary phrase of 90s arcade gaming has been missing since 1996, as gamers wondered where this classic fighting-game franchise created by Rareware disappeared to. This was until the year of 2013, when a brand new Killer Instinct game was released for Xbox One, and it’s safe to say it was worth the wait.

Killer Instinct is a six-button fighting game (with 3 punch buttons & 3 kick buttons), and focuses on the essence of combos. Combos are key to defeating your opponent, as timing and precision are in creating the right combo for the right situation. These tools, as well as other offensive & defensive mechanics, are key to winning by getting rid of both of your opponent’s health bars. And to add the icing on the cake, the winning player can perform an Ultra Combo in the end, providing an opportunity to humiliate the loser.

The gameplay system is solid, fluid and fun to play. The characters are not only well designed in appearance, but in their move set. Each character has distinct moves and strategies to accomplish, resulting in variety within its roster. This diversity allows each match to have different strategies, events, and outcomes, increasing replay value.

The visual presentation is also well done.  The graphical elements are less superior compared to bigger Xbox One and Playstation 4 titles (Ryse: Son of Rome, inFamous: Second Son, etc.), but Killer Instinct still runs very smoothly at a flawless 60fps and has a huge appeal in its art style, which makes up for it. The colors are bright, the brightness is just right, and the stage designs are such a pretty sight. The sound design is also stellar, delivering a wonderful soundtrack that defines what the game is, who the characters are, and the engagement during fights.

The one big fault with Killer Instinct is the amount of content it has. It does make great use of what it has, but at times you’ll still wish for a little more. It is important to note Killer Instinct was made to be released at the start of the Xbox One’s lifespan. With that said, the game lacks bonus game modes, more characters (the game had 6 at launch, with 2 being added shortly after), and other little goodies. Rare glitches also appear here and there, but are barely an issue. It doesn’t necessarily harm the game’s replay value. Otherwise, this can be overlooked as content is to be added in Fall 2014.

Killer Instinct is a prime example of a game that its small resources to make something big. It may be a low budget, non-blockbuster game, but it follows a very important lesson that is ignored in video game development: Quality over Quantity, especially under a tight development schedule. With excellent gameplay and a fantastic art & sound presentation, as well as a nice tutorial for newcomers to fighting games in general, I’d give this game a look.

NOTE: Killer Instinct was initially released as a digital Free to Play title, as players could purchase content separately, altogether, or play the free version before buying anything. It is highly recommended that you purchase the “Combo Breaker Pack” for $19.99, which gives you what you need to enjoy the game, or the “Ultra Combo Pack” for $39.99, which gives you extra content. The “Combo Breaker Pack”, which was the version used for this review, is also coming to stores on September 23, 2014 for the same price as its digital counterpart.

Killer Instinct is rated T for Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes, and Violence. It is now available exclusively on Xbox One.

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