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Killer Instinct Hands On Preview

The Hype is Real!

I stood in a crowd full of other curious and enthusiastic gamers craving to get their hands on Xbox One’s Killer Instinct. The challenge was to win five matches in a row in a king of the ring style tournament. The prize: bragging rights! Oh, and a Turtle Beach headset. Either way, due to Microsoft’s Xbox One being absent at this year’s show, this was my only shot at getting hands on with the game. I eagerly waited and hoped that I would be chosen to play and luckily for me I was eventually picked out of the crowd to play. What followed was one of this weekend’s most exciting moments for me.

Though I grew up adoring the Killer Instinct games, I admit that I’ve never really understood how those games were meant to be played. Because of this, I was worried that I wouldn’t know how to play, but thankfully, the same went for a majority of the other spectators and competitors. Going in with only basic knowledge of the game systems, and some fundamentals from other 6 button fighters, I hopped in against my opponent.

I selected Jago, against my opponent’s Sabrewolf. The first thing I noticed was the amount of detail and attention put into each character model and stage. Graphically, the game is definitely beautiful. As the match began, I noticed that it is also very accessible. My fundamentals worked right away, with fireballs and dragon punches working much like they do in the Street Fighter series. Of course, the majority of the game is based around combos, which are as accessible as everything else. I didn’t get the opportunity to check a move list, but I was able to build pretty flashy and damaging combos just by feeling out which combos linked together. It was satisfying to have a whole crowd of people cheering me on as I completed combos that I wasn’t even sure how to do.

After doing some post-tournament research, I discovered that the primary combos system revolves around Openers, Auto Doubles, Linkers, and Enders. Each character has moves that fit into one of these categories and utilizing them at the right times will lead to the better combos available. As the names imply, you typically begin the combo with an Opener. Auto Doubles are automatic two hit combos that are preformed after an opener by pressing a light, medium or hard punch or kick. Linkers are special moves that continue the combo after Auto Double. Finally, Enders are special moves that end the combo, and get you the majority of your damage output. It would have been handy to know this going into my next game, but regardless the second game was the most exciting.

After winning the first match, I was feeling good. The character I was using, Jago, was effective and because of that he was very popular. In an effort to win over the crowd, I switched characters to Sadira, Killer Instinct’s brand new fighter. I knew that Sadira’s air-based combat would be difficult to adjust to, but I went with her regardless.

As the game began with my second opponent, I immediately felt like I had made a great mistake. I was being pummeled, and since I had no idea how to combo-break, I was a sitting duck to most of my opponent's techniques. Sadira suffers from having weak wake-up options; meaning, every time I was knocked down, I couldn’t react to the next attack as fast as I would've liked. My first health bar depleted much quicker than my opponent, and it was beginning to look like a free win for him. Then the momentum shifted. I utilized Sadira’s moveset to cross up my opponent. Her gameplay definitely seemed to be based around mix-up options and aerial dominance. As the tide shifted, I began to believe that I might actually be able to come out victorious. The match was close to the very end. The crowd was on my side, cheering extra every time I got on the offensive. Our health bars were both down to the final sliver, when my opponent threw out a jab that caught me by surprise. I lost the game, but my comeback made for a very memorable moment.

After playing Killer Instinct, all I wanted to do was play more. The mechanics were sound, the gameplay was fast, flashy and fun, and the audience was buzzing with excitement the whole time. I’m sure that whenever I do get around to picking up an Xbox One, Killer Instinct will be an instant download for me. The rest of you fighting fans should definitely give this one a try on November 22, when the Xbox One launches.




10/23/2013 at 10:06 PM

Hard to believe the series is back after all these years. Pity you didn't score that Turtle Beach headset!

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

10/23/2013 at 10:27 PM

Yeah. Part of me wishes that I stuck with Jago. I really feel like I might have had a shot, but oh well. It was still fun.


10/24/2013 at 12:22 PM

I already have 2 problems with this game.  #1. It's only on the XB1.  I seriously doubt I'll play this game anytime soon since I don't plan to buy an XB1 until the price drops.  #2. It's a digital only game.  If it had a physical copy, I'd preorder it and just hold on to it until I get an XB1 and I refuse to pay more than $15 on any digital game.  Hopefully, when I get an XB1, the price of the game would of dropped to $15 or less. 

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

10/24/2013 at 01:12 PM

Valid complaints. I too wish it was on PS4 or PC as well, but its not extremely likely. As far as the distribution, its not a huge issue for me. I think there will be a limited physical run. I think it will be worth it though, for the amount of hours I personally would put into it.

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