‘Killer Instinct’ Review Roundup: A C-C-Combo Taster

By | 3 years ago 

Prepare to memorize an all-new playbook fight fans, Killer Instinct is back, and packing an-all new c-c-controversial business plan courtesy of Microsoft. Announced back in June of this year, the rebooted battler arrives alongside the Xbox One, as an exclusive digital download — offering basic-level, free-to-play functionality, as well as 3 tiers of paid incentives.

With Microsoft’s launch day lineup providing a mixedbag so far, it falls to developer Double Helix Games to reboot Rare’s iconic title, and land an early blow for the team in green. While not an entirely successful venture by any stretch, critics seem to agree that Killer Instinct shows plenty of promise, as a potential future favorite marred by a current lack of options.

For a more in-depth appraisal of the game, check out these choice reviews:

NOTE: The following reviews are based upon the game’s Ultra Edition, a comprehensive 40 dollar pack that includes additional costumes and accessories. To all intents and purposes, however, the content up for review is the 2nd-tier Combo Breaker Pack, including all 8 of the game’s Season 1 characters.

Metro (Roger Hargreaves):

“An excellent reboot of an unfairly forgotten fighter, but the way it’s being sold does it no favours and severally restricts the fun to be had online. Pros [include]a unique combat system that keeps the best of the earlier games and adds in some useful new ideas of its own. Cons: The microtransaction system is ruinous to the variety of the game, especially online and especially as there are too few characters anyway — or game modes for that matter.”

Score: 7/10

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Eurogamer (Wesley Yin-Poole):

“Killer Instinct won’t win awards. At the end of this new generation, it won’t turn up in the lists of greatest console launch titles ever. And it won’t cause the established fighting game creators – the Capcoms and Namco Bandais of this world – to fear for their jobs. But its heart – and its business model – are in the right place. Success!”

Score: 7/10

Joystiq (David Hinkle):

“…Killer Instinct a delight to play and a uniquely enticing proposition to fighting aficionados and genre novices alike. And even though it’s mostly about big, flashy combos, Killer Instinct doesn’t make you feel helpless when you’re the one being pummeled. But as much as Killer Instinct is a sound and inviting fighter mid-battle, it’s an experience that ultimately feels hollow everywhere else.”

Score: 3/5

IGN (Vince Ingenito):

Killer Instinct succeeds enormously at exposing all [requisite] information to players of all skill levels. 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. Though it lacks an arcade mode or a full-sized character roster, Killer Instinct delivers where it counts.”

Score: 8.4/10

Gamespot (Maxwell McGee):

Killer Instinct successfully updates the ’90s classic into a finely tuned, competitive fighter that can stand alongside the genre’s regulars. Its muscle-bound roster conveyes a satisfying sense of weight and force with their movements, while still feeling responsive to your commands. There is a lot of flexibility in combo authorship, but the combo and counter breakers help keep both fighters on their toes even as the hit count rises.”

Score: 7/10

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EGM (Eric L. Patterson):

“the biggest impression that I was left with after playing Killer Instinct: that this is a product that doesn’t always know what it should or wants to be. Part of that comes from what it is on a gameplay level […] but some of that is also in terms of how it was handled. It’s a home-console fighting game that wants to be an arcade game, but that also wants to be a free-to-play title. […] Somehow, despite all of that, I had fun with Killer Instinct.”

Score: 6.5/10

Gamesradar (Lucas Sullivan):

“A year from now, Killer Instinct could be one of the best fighting games ever made. In its current state, it feels like the inherently replayable foundation for something bigger. The general lack of content is made up for by the mind-blowing fun factor, where pick-up-and-play controls meet meticulously crafted game mechanics.”

Score: 4/5

USGamer (Bryan Dawson):

“Killer Instinct may seem little light with only six characters at launch, no lobbies for online play, and no Story mode until March, but the fighting mechanics are top notch. You can’t argue with how easy the game is to pick up and play, and you’ll have a ton of fun in the process. This is easily one of the best Xbox One launch title.”

Score: 4/5

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Shacknews (Ozzie Mejia):

“While Killer Instinct is fun, it’s ultimately undone by its lack of game modes. Single-player fighters looking to sharpen their wits won’t find much to play with here. […] At launch, Killer Instinct serves as a solid foundation for what could eventually become a good fighting game. More characters and stages are coming down the line, but at launch, the game’s limited single and multiplayer modes are glaring and will grow stale quickly.”

Score: 7/10

Edge (Edge Staff):

” 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.”

Score: 7/10

What do you make of the Killer Instinct reboot? Will the game’s unique business model help or hinder its chances of success? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check in with all of the latest Xbox One news, right here on Game Rant.


Killer Instinct is now available from the Xbox One Games Store. The title is exclusive to digital formats (i.e. no disc), with the introductory ‘Round One’ edition being released free-of-charge.

Follow Sam on Twitter @GamingGoo.