Microsoft may be taking a beating over their odd DRM and online requirements for the Xbox One, but something that’s being overlooked is all of the great exclusive titles they’ve managed to lock down for their next game console. One of these games in particular stood out for its nostalgia factor, which is Killer Instinct, the combo crazy fighting game franchise that popped up during the 90’s.
Killer Instinct was a ground breaking game for its time with its insane 3D visuals and fast paced combat, but the franchise hasn’t seen the light of day since 1996. Somehow Microsoft convinced Rare and Double Helix to dust off this classic for its exclusive resurgence on the Xbox One, which is a win for the console maker, and fans of the franchise.
I had the opportunity to get some hands-on time with it at a Xbox 101 party last Monday night, and it’s definitely a worthy addition to the Killer Instinct franchise, and should make for a solid Xbox One launch title. The demo featured two playable characters who both sported completely different move sets. One of the fighters was Jago, who is more or less a Ryu and Ken clone who among other things can throw fireballs and launch devastating flying uppercuts. The other character was Sabrewulf (love the spelling), who closely resembles Blanka from the Street Fighter series, and can lay down ferocious single attacks and power moves.
We were given Killer Instinct fight sticks to use, so I can’t comment on how well the game plays with the Xbox One controller, but I can say that it plays flawlessly and feels very arcade-like using the fight stick. My competitor chose Sabrewulf, so I was left with Jago, but I quickly found out that I received the more well rounded fighter. For all intents and purposes Jago controls very similarly to his Street Fighter counterparts, so it was easy to get into the swing of things and execute some of his special moves, granting me a few cheap attacks before my opponent started to learn Sabrewulf’s arsenal of abilities.
Luckily for both of us, Killer Instinct isn’t a game that requires a mastery of every move set to be a successful, or at least a competent player. Even with no knowledge of Jago’s and Sabrewulf’s super moves and combos, the match still felt like two seasoned vets were digitally brawling with each other.
This is one of the best features of Killer Instinct. It never felt like either of us were at a disadvantage because we didn’t know the move sets, or really which buttons on the fight stick corresponded to kicks, punches, throws, blocks, etc. Everything felt natural, and after some time flailing around like two tweaked fighters, both of us started to pull off some insane combos, which made us look like we actually knew what we were doing.
Sometimes in modern fighters the fun factor is low for gamers who aren’t masters of the game’s combo/special moves system, because they literally get their asses kicked without landing more than a few attacks on the more skilled fighter. After playing Killer Instinct (and winning my match by the way), it was clear that this is a fighting game where gamers with various skill levels could compete, and actually have a chance to pull off an upset, or get upset depending on their prowess. It felt like the classic fighting games of yesteryear, and not some ridiculous combo-fest that only seasoned vets can master.
If you grew up during the heyday of fighting games and spent more time at the arcade playing Street Fighter II, Killer Instinct, and Mortal Kombat I, II, and III than doing your homework and chores, you’ll feel right at home once you get your hands on the new Killer Instinct for the Xbox One. It’s definitely another solid exclusive title that could garner a few extra Xbox One sales this holiday season, so plan on adding it to your lineup if you’ve already pre-ordered Microsoft’s next-gen entertainment unit.
For a better look at the game you can head down below to check out a bunch of in-game screenshots featuring what the press saw during the Xbox 101 event demo.
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