Drawing closer and closer to the arrival of the other next generation of consoles, we here at Gaming Union were able to get our hands on Xbox One's upcoming fighting exclusive, Killer Instinct. The original was one of my favourite memories of childhood gaming, so I was naturally excited to see how this was, and about time too seeing as how Microsoft has owned the property for almost 12 years now after acquiring Rare Ltd.
Our experience only touched on a portion of the game, but to be fair the game will technically be released in portions to the public. Starting out as a free download, players will only have access to Jago. You then have the option of either paying per character, or grabbing the bundles set at around $20 to $40. $20 gets you 8 additional characters, and the full price not only gives you access to the entire roster, but they also toss in the original arcade port of Killer Instinct. It's a shame it's offered as a digital only title; I would gladly purchase a physical copy of this.
The portion of the game I had let me play with Jago, Sabrewulf, Thunder, and Glacius. I'm still eagerly waiting the reveal for characters like Cinder, Fulgore and Combo, but this was a good chance to whet my appetite.
After playing around with all 4, I decided to stick with Sabrewulf since he's basically Vanilla Wolverine 2.0. The game controls fast, and has the typical LMH setup that Street Fighter has. Combos are executed in rapid succession, and the character models almost look like stop motion when they're in one. It was a little jarring at first to see the animation style, but it grows on you. Combo-breakers also return in a wild and flashy announcement on the screen when you successfully stop a combo mid-chain. Newly added to this mechanic is the ability to counter the combo-breaker.
Killer Instinct also has a unique input for each character, much like Injustice: Gods Among Us. Characters will have something called Instinct Mode, which grants unique enhancements (Glacius can be covered in a suit of ice armour for instance). Bodying an opponent in a combo and also timing when it's most efficient to use your enhancement felt great to try out and even better to see in motion.
The visuals looked clean, but I won't lie it's definitely not a showcase title for the new console. It is however, a game that performs exactly as you would want in a fighting game "“ buttery smooth. From what I played, the game ran at a solid 60 frames. Hyper realistic visuals can take a back seat in favour of a steady frame rate in my books. One thing I will say is that the character designs range for good to meh. Jago is the first that comes to mind, and maybe it's because I must have rose-tinted glasses, but I really dug his original model over this. This version just looks odd. Sabrewulf looks fantastic, on the other hand.
Killer Instinct plays really well. The controls felt great on the Xbox One's new controller and it's nice to be playing a Killer Instinct game again. This perhaps isn't a game that will make people want to shell out for an Xbox One, but it's very much a deal sweetener. For those who have already got their pre-orders ready this is absolutely a title that should be on your radar. At the very least it has begun a list of reasons to consider grabbing the console at a later date.