Killer Instinct, the fighting-game launch title for the Xbox One has a bizarre distribution model. It’s a digital download fighting game that you buy in chunks. It’s available to download for free, but gives you only one character, with other available on a per-character basis, or all together as part of a Season One pass. Right now, it’s incomplete, which makes it tricky to review – but reviews are out anyway. Is Killer Instinct a killer, or does it instink?
The reason I say it’s unfinished is that it only has 6 available characters right now, of the 8 that will be coming in Season One. It’s also missing any sort of real single player mode beyond training; Arcade mode will be coming once all Season One characters are ready to download. More characters will be coming in Season 2 in 2014 , bringing the total to 16. In the end, the whole game is going to cost $40. It does, however, come bundled with two versions of the original RARE arcade games, so that’s pretty neat.
Here’s what reviewers who’ve been able to play the game have to say.
- IGN – 8.4/10: Not only is its combat system flashy and well thought out, it’s well explained too, thanks to its powerful training tools, and what is easily the most complete guide to terminology and tactics ever assembled in a fighting game.
- Gamesbeat – 8/10 : Unfortunately, the weird pricing structure and noticeable depth of features holds back the screaming, rage-filled “Powerthirst” of fighting games from really making a statement. It’s no Street Fighter competitor this time around, but it’s good enough to measure up against the rest.
- GamesRadar – – 4/5: Excellent mechanics and incredible playability make up for Killer Instinct’s shortage of single-player content.
- OXM – 7.5/10: The new Killer Instinct succeeds at stoking nostalgic fires while updating the action. However, a piecemeal season-based approach means that the initial incarnation is extremely light on content, revealing a fighter that’s as packed with vibrant combos as it is unfulfilled promise.
- Edge – 7/10: There’s a fantastic combo system at Killer Instinct’s core, but right now it feels like half a game – one full of promise, certainly, but not an especially next-gen one either. The cascade of particles may not be enough to retain player interest until the rest of the game arrives.
- Joystiq – 3/5: As much as Killer Instinct is a sound and inviting fighter mid-battle, it’s an experience that ultimately feels hollow everywhere else. Online play – as spare as it is – may present a limitless well of competition to draw from, but with only six fighters to master and very few modes of play, Killer Instinct lacks the value and staying power offered by most other modern fighting games.
That’s actually…a far kinder critical consensus than I would have imagined. It seems Killer Instinct on the Xbox One really isn’t bad at all. We’ve been wanting tiered pricing for games for ages, and this sort of model might actually make way for that.
Last Updated: November 19, 2013