As one of the debut games on the Xbox One Killer Instinct was always going to come under heavy scrutiny. Now throw in the fact that the original games are considered cult classics & it is easy to see how the weight of expectation could easily sink KI.
Thankfully it manages to keep its head above water even if it struggles at times.
It is important to note that there are a several versions of the game available depending upon how much the player is willing to spend. If you want to play for free then all modes are available alongside 1 playable character (Jago).
Each character can be purchased individually (£3.99) or as a pack. For the purpose of this review I bought the Combo Breaker edition that came with all characters plus 2 more to come in the future (£16.99). The Ultra edition comes with the original game & some extra costumes & accessory packs (£34.99).
The main men screen is dominated by challenges that when completed give you KP. These are used in-game to unlock stages, costumes & accessories & are mostly reasonable requiring things such as reaching round 10 in survival or dealing out 100 combos.
Beyond that it all seems a bit…empty. There is a glaringly obvious omission…a single player story mode. This is not expected to be included until March 2014.
That just leaves a handful of modes…one-on-one with the COM or another local player, x-box live against other fighters around the world, survival & the dojo (effectively the tutorial).
Not much, really….
Thankfully when you do settle on a mode & start a fight the games quality begins to shine through. It looks fantastic with Glacius & his snow-storm stage standing out as the best looking. Some stages come to life around you while others are a bit too static. More stages with more going on have to be a must in future content.
So what about the most important thing…the fighting? Well each character has their own style & there are obvious differences as you try each one out. Sabrewolf is all about speed & slashing with his claws while Sadira relies on aerial moves & her spider-like abilities. Finding out which one suit you best will take some time but you may be surprised once you do. I was convinced Sabrewolf was my guy until I played as Orchid & managed to get several Ultra combos (30+) with her.
Combos are the reason why I have fallen in love with Killer Instinct. The first 2 games passed me by so I have never experienced a fighting game that utilises them as well as KI does. It is addictive trying out combinations & seeing just how much damage you can inflict. Hammering the buttons as the number of hits count up & your opponents health bar depletes has to count as one of my favourite things ever in fighting games.
It is a lot of fun….while it lasts.
Which brings me back to the main problem with Killer Instinct…there just isn’t enough content to keep you interested. Sure you can go online but if your pretty rubbish (like me) you will quickly get bored of getting your butt kicked all the time. It desperately needs a well thought out story mode.
Until then? An Ultraaaaaaa Comboooooo every soon often won’t do any harm.