E3 2013: Paws on with Killer Instinct

3 min read


One of the big surprise reveals from Microsoft’s Xbox One conference was the fact that Rare Ltd’s Killer Instinct – once a fan-favourite fighting game series – was being brought back from the dead, exclusively available on the Xbox One. I got to give the game a bash at E3 this week,and could this be the bad news C-C-C-C-C-OMBO BREAKER the Xbox one needs?

One of the very few good fighting games made by British people, and while it never really had the depth of games like Street Fighter, it’s always been a big, dumb fan favourite thanks to its ludicrously long and decidedly fun “Ultra Combos.”

And its back – for the first time in about 17 years – bringing back the same sort of frantic and fast gameplay you remember, just in to the modern age. It utilises the same kind of “dial-a-combo” system as before, but that aspect’s been toned down a little – though the actual gameplay is noticeably faster than previous iterations. It also now plays quite bit more like Marvel vs Capcom, just without the character-switching insanity. It feels somehow familiar – even if it’s a different Killer Instinct.

It still plays out on  2D plane, but it looks rather gorgeous – at a silk smooth frame rate and all the sort of shiny particle effects you’d expect from a next-gen game. I managed to play with two of the characters in the E3 demo – both of whom return from previous games; Jago and Sabrewulf. I haven’t played Killer instinct anything in at least a decade, but I’m glad to say that I very nearly beat one of the developers in my first match – with quite honestly just a pixel of health being the decider.

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That, unfortunately doesn’t really speak well for the game – because while it’s fun, it could well be a button-masher’s paradise. It’ll be released as a retail title, and it’ll also be available as a free-to play title, coming with just Jago – with more characters available as paid-for DLC.

The biggest problem is that it’s not even made by Rare. It’s being developed by Double Helix – the fine folk who brought you Battleship, Silent Hill: Homecoming, Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters ad GI Joe: Rise of Cobra.

Balance has never really been integral to Killer Instinct, but to be taken seriously as a fighting game these days, it’s pretty important – and I just don’t see that happening. I wanted Killer Instinct back, but not like this.Not like this.

It’s a pity, because it really could be quite a bit of fun to play.

Last Updated: June 14, 2013

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • Ultimo_Cleric N7

    One Character…….the rest are DLC.
    Could someone pass the Vaseline again. Thanks

    • Rinceyouropinion

      I would, but Foxhound finished it all…

      • Ultimo_Cleric N7

        Yip…Thanks for killing a great memory of mine Double Helix/ Microsoft. MAN, The Xbox One’s coffin has been nailed more than Paris Hilton.

        • Rinceyouropinion

          Yeah, more like One night in Xbox… hahahahaha!

          • Vampyre Squirrel

            Debbie does Xbox?

          • Rinceyouropinion

            Xbox One, because no one else wants to… lol

          • Vampyre Squirrel

            Xbox One, finally, something worse than the Twilight Saga…

          • Ultimo_Cleric N7

            Xbox One has a worse ending than Mass Effect 3

  • Rinceyouropinion

    Developed by Double Helix. There goes the neighbourhood. Aliens: Colonial Marines anyone?

    • Argentil

      And that is why I mentioned before not to get too excited about this before trying it. I marvelled at the backgrounds and the particle effects are awesome. First impressions of the game were all exactly as Geoff said. Pretty, but shallow. They are trying to push it as an EVO game, but that’s a stretch. I would prefer a new Darkstalkers game on next gen, with street fighter’s art direction.

      • Rinceyouropinion

        Yes! What you said! And people were literally jumping out their seats when this was announced.

        • ElNicko

          The Hype-Train was at Full speed ahead….

  • Sageville

    Is this better than Injustice?

    • Ultimo_Cleric N7


  • HvR

    They should have used the guy doing the voice over to do thw xbox one presentation.

    Neeeww COntrollllllleeeerrrr!
    Sleeeeeeeck black look!!!!!!!!!!

    -incomprehensible fast rambling mumble- DLC -incomprehensible fast rambling mumble- 24hours -incomprehensible fast rambling mumble- internet -incomprehensible fast rambling mumble- 21 countries.

  • Airborne

    Awwwww Man!!! All the countless of 50c i spend in arcades playing this game, and Xbox snagged it… I am in tears… tears of anger (coz real gamers dont cry)… Damn them all to HECK!!!

  • Tbone187

    Just by looking at the game you can see it’s a button basher…

  • OVG

    XBOX AVATAR INSTINCT… Just wait and see.

  • OVG

    WHAT????? NO DONKEY KONG COUNTRY 🙁 Sad Panda… Oh I see what I did there.

  • Willtastic94

    Can we just let rare make it and put it back in arcades and on Nintendo systems? You know, where the games wss so successful before?

  • FoxHound R – Xbox One Day One

    Remember it’s free on xbox one, and it’s going to be the best fighter ever

  • FoxHound R – Xbox One Day One

    Stop complaining about Rare not doing this. Rare is probably making a superior exclusive for xbox one

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