In the Microsoft E3 press conference, there were only a few surprises that were actual surprises. One of those actual surprises was the reveal of the new Killer Instinct. After seeing the game played on stage, and ignoring the controversial "trash talking" that caused so many panties to get into a wad, I was determined to play the game on the show floor. And I did just that...multiple times.
The Killer Instinct demo had only two characters to choose from: Sabrewulf and Jago. Both characters have moves from previous games along with one or two more. Special moves, at least in the case of Jago, were slightly altered although not major.
Combos are the heart and soul of the Killer Instinct series, and the new Killer Instinct keeps that combo system that many players will remember. Certain moves act as openers to start the combo, then you need to get the right combination of attacks to continue the combo like a couple of light punches/kicks, and then you need the right move to extend the combo. From there, you repeat the process of extending that combo until you decide to finish the combo by using a special move. During this time, however, the opponent can try and use a Combo Breaker if they press the right combination buttons.
Two new elements added to the game are a “revenge” meter and a Shadow meter. The “revenge” meter, or as it’s known in the game as the Instinct meter, will increase with the more damage you take. When you activate this meter, your character will be able to cancel combos, do some more damage, or have another character specific trait like letting Jago heal himself a bit.
The Shadow meter is just like the Super meter from Street Fighter IV. As you do more moves, the meter will increase until you have to segments. Doing a special move and pressing two punch/kick buttons will unleash the Shadow move. Shadow moves have different properties than regular moves so using them within a combo can cause some huge damage.
Throws have also returned to the game and depending on the character, throws can be cancelled or even used to start a combo. And it wouldn't be a Killer Instinct game without Ultra combos. They're back and although i didn't see the inputs for it, I'm betting that they require certain input similar to a special move that has to be done when your opoonent is almost dead.
Killer Instinct does look great with its 60 FPS and incredible detail on the Xbox One. Although some have criticized how the game looks since the character do look significantly different than they did back in “the day,” I felt that the character models were simply a proper evolution of their look. I can’t wait to see how the other characters will look, especially my favorite, TJ Combo.
So the big question that people are having about Killer Instinct is whether it can hold its own with other modern fighting games. From what I’ve seen, the game has enough to make it a competent fighter, but it won’t be until launch that players can see how deep the system goes. It’s fun to play, however I can imagine that after some time, seeing the same combo being used over and over again can get a bit boring. This will be something that developer Double Helix Games will have to try and avoid.
Unfortunately, the real drawback of the game will be the free-to-play model that it’s using. Although Tekken and DoA have made use of free-to-play, their versions are more about getting new payers to try out the game for free and maybe picking up the full version of the game. With Killer Instinct, who’s to say how much the game will actually cost. Right now the plan is to have the game available with two free characters and then pay for the rest. If those characters are more than $2 each, you could find yourself paying more than $60 if there are more than 20 characters or if they sell the characters for cheap, then you have an affordable fighting game.
More info about the game should be coming in the upcoming months as Microsoft plans to have the game available in time for the Xbox One’s launch.