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.

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.

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