Killer Instinct 2013 Impressions (Long Writeup)

SonGohan

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Warning: this is a long fucking read. If you're interested at all in KI and what this one offers, it should explain a lot of things (hopefully). I haven't seen a thread on this at all (at least lately), and the old xbone thread hasn't been bumped in forever, so here's my thoughts on it (sorry for any typos/grammatical errors).

Killer_instinct_(2013)_logo.jpg

KILLER INSTINCT (2013) IMPRESSIONS​
I’m going to start this off by saying that I loved the original game. I played it a ton in the arcade, and I ate up the SNES port when it came out. I don’t have a big connection with the second game, as I only got to play it a handful of times in the arcades. My cousin had Killer Instinct Gold for the N64 that I spent a weekend with, but I remember not really liking it, and chalking it up to not having an ideal controller to play with. So, please keep in mind that my frame of reference regarding the series is really only the first game. Any features I talk about in the 2013 game may have been in KI2/Gold, but I don’t know or don’t remember them if I ever did.

A couple of days ago I bought an Xbox One for no other reason than I had the money and was sick of buying guitars. I was also curious to see how the new Killer Instinct played. I didn’t keep track of it when it was released back in November, nor did I do any sort of research in regards to reviews or videos. I unboxed it, hooked it up, updated it, and then started to download the free game (3-something gb download).

The first thing you’re greeted with when you load the game up is a choice of which pack to purchase (you can only play Jago in the free version). “The Brawler Pack” unlocks all 6 characters and the next 2 to be released (Spinal and Fulgore, although they don’t explicitly state they are the characters, or when they’re released –I had to find that out in the Internet). “The Brawler Pack” will run you $20. Next there’s “The Gold Edition” which unlocks the same 8 characters as “The Brawler Pack,” however you also get the arcade version of the original Killer Instinct (which comes in two versions, the latest offered in the arcade, and some version that has a bunch of bugs/infinities that people love –you choose which version you want before you play). This pack will run you $40. The description on each is absolutely horrible, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t do any unnecessary cross-purchasing, so once again I had to search the Internet to get a clear picture of what each pack offered. I purchased “The Gold Edition” and called it a night.

FEATURES​
The first thing I noticed was there wasn’t an Arcade/Story Mode. You can play Versus (1p vs 2p, 1p vs CPU, or CPU vs CPU), Survival, Dojo, or Practice in the Local Play area. There’s a Store section, and a Customization section. The Store has an actual store where you purchase individual characters, or packs. It also has various sections where you spend “KP,” which is currency you earn while you play. You can purchase old KI soundtracks (which you can only use in Practice mode), emblems/quotes to go on your profile tag, or special outfits/accessories/colors for your character to wear.

While that sounds fun, the grind to get them is insane. Let’s say you want those cool-looking demon shin-guards for Jago. In order to get them, you have to unlock the ability to purchase them, which will require you to do anything from win 150 fights with Jago to win 200 fights with Jago online. After you fulfill that requirement, you have to spend something obnoxious like 5000 KP. KP doesn’t grow on trees, and to get them you have to keep an eye out for the trials list on the right side of the main menu to see what specific things you need to do. The first ones are easy, such as win a match/win 3 matches in a row in survival with a certain character. As you progress, it becomes increasingly more difficult/time consuming, especially when you’re awarded 10 KP – 50 KP per very specific thing they want you to do, and that there are dozens of things that cost 5000 KP to buy. It gives an artificial sense of replay value, especially when there are only 6 characters and a limited amount of modes to keep you interested.

GAMEPLAY​
The game play is a lot of fun in Killer Instinct 2013. There’s a lot to digest, but it’s easy enough to get you up and running in a matter of minutes. The Dojo takes you through 30+ lessons to give you the ins and outs of not only the system, but how fighting games work in general. A basic combo includes the following:

Combo Opener: This is a specific special move for each character. A character may have 4 or 5 special moves, and maybe up to 4 of them can be considered combo openers. If you go to the moves list during combat, it will specifically tell you which specials are combo openers.

Auto Double: These come after combo openers or combo linkers. They require only one button press at the end of a combo opener or linker. It will automatically hit 2 times, and at the end of the auto-double you have the choice to go into a combo linker, or combo ender.

Combo Linker: Combo linkers are similar to openers: however, they’re special moves that are performed with only the light or medium punch/kick buttons. Combo linkers come after auto doubles, and can be followed up by another auto double, or a combo ender.

Combo Ender: A combo ender is a special move performed with either a hard punch or hard kick. It will finish the combo with a different animation, and can come after an auto double, or a combo linker.

So, a very basic combo would look like this:

Combo Opener – Auto Double – Combo Linker – Combo Ender

It can be extended further, however it leaves you open for a combo breaker:

Combo Opener – Auto Double – Combo Linker – Auto Double – Combo Linker – Auto Double – Combo Ender

Combo Breaker: A combo breaker is done by pressing both HP + HK, MP + MK, or LP + LK, and must be done during an auto double equivalent (if an opponent does an MK auto double, then you press MP + MK to break it).

While longer combos leave you open for combo breakers, if your opponent chooses the wrong combo breaker, they will be locked out, which leaves an exclamation point over their head, and they can’t try another combo breaker for the next 3 seconds (which is actually a really fucking long time). That doesn’t mean your opponent can keep on going indefinitely, as there is a combo meter that will max out. If the combo meter maxes out, and you don’t perform a combo ender, you lose your potential damage (which is shown in white as you’re doing the combo). So a nice 60% - 70% combo, if not ended in time, would only do something like 15%.

Manual Linker: Doing long combos with auto doubles and combo linkers is actually really easy. Jago can literally do QCB + MK (for combo opener), MK (for auto double), QCB + MK (for combo linker), MK, QCB + MK, QCB + HK (for combo ender). However, once you start learning which auto doubles look like what, they become way easier to combo break. Since they’re auto doubles, you can read the first hit and then know which combo breaker variant to input. This is where manual linkers come into play. Instead of pressing the button auto double at the end of the special (which is very forgiving as it will cancel into the auto double), in order to manually link a normal, you have to wait for the special to completely end and then time your normal to link after it (and then you could cancel into another combo linker/combo ender). The timing for this is very strict, but it also is way harder to combo break, as you can’t read it and react like an auto double. You can still mix up auto doubles 6 different ways (as there are only 6 buttons to push), but your first hit can always be read. You have to be really really fast to react to a manual link, although it can still be seen because you’re waiting for the special animation to end in order to link.

There’s also a super meter bar, which is split in half. This allows for shadow moves which do more hits/damage (think EX moves in SF3), and also allow for Shadow Counters. Below your life bar you have an Instinct meter, which fills up when you take damage/block, and each character has a different way they react when you go in Instinct mode (Jago’s life refills and he gets extra hit stun off of his moves).

GRAPHICS/SOUND​
The graphics looks really good. I mean, it’s nothing that much better than the 360, but, then again, I didn’t have any crazy expectations. I really don’t like Thunder’s model (he reminds me of the wooden indian from Creepshow 2), but I’m okay with everybody else’s. Glacius looks cool (get it? cool? har har), but he didn’t wow me like I thought he would. I remember seeing him in the original KI and thinking how fucking cool his graphic was. I still have really high expectations to how Fulgore will look.

The music is pretty much staple KI stuff. The menu and character select music is awesome as hell. There’s some odd choices made in some areas, though, like Jago’s music. It sounds like a weird blend of a generic movie soundtrack mixed in with Cheech and Chong (listen around 0:35).


The voice acting is weird. It's not bad, or anything, but it doesn't sound like it fits, at all. When Orchid says she's going to flush Ultratech in her win quote (for the 300th time, since she has no other quote), it's the least menacing thing I've ever heard. She might as well be telling me she's going to the supermarket to get some fruit.

PRESENTATION​
There’s no way around it: this game is unfinished. I had pretty high hopes, considering the new Mortal Kombat game was fucking amazing and breathed new life into the franchise. It clearly was rushed to be an Xbox One launch title. I don’t mind it being digital-only, and I don’t mind paying for more of the game as it’s released (as long as it’s reasonable, I only have $40 invested and I have access to 8 characters (2 when they drop) + the classic KI). There needs to be more content, and fast, though.

Also, the loading in this game rivals that of the original Playstation and Neo Geo CD at times. The initial boot up of the game is fast, but things such as navigating the character selection screen takes a good 4 – 5 seconds for it to bring up the character model above the icon.


If you’re playing survival mode, after you finish one opponent, it can take up to 30 seconds before you’re fighting the next one.


It boggles my mind, and it certainly can’t be the fault of the system. I’m guessing it hasn’t been optimized. They’re supposed to be dropping story/arcade mode with Spinal and Fulgore, so I really hope that it comes with an update that doesn’t have these loading problems. I mean, the game is being played directly off of the harddrive for christ’s sake.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The game is fun to play. It needs more content, and it needs to be optimized, though. I haven't taken it online enough to give it a thorough review, but it was annoying how many Jagos I fought. I probably played 10 matches and 9 of them were Jago. It's an unfinished product, but one that is fun to play. I'd rather play it like it is now (and learn it) rather than wait however much longer to get a full game of eight characters (which is kind of ridiculous-sounding in its own right). There's a lot of old KI characters to bring back as time goes on, and there's room for new characters as well. Only time will tell how they handle it (and whether or not they fucking optimize all that loading bullshit).
 
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Poonman

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Ken Lobb and his close FG community involvement led me to believe that the gameplay was going to be solid (and it sure as hell seems to be the case, from what I'm seeing online) but these slow assed load times and potential for penny shaving dumbfuckery is news to me.

Not nearly as bad as the new Forza with cars you have to BUY for the price of the game itself, but still I'm worried about where they are gonna go with this.

Though I guess some of the blame can be assigned to Microsoft (the new owners of rares IPs) for not really having faith in the team that made this new KI...they should have given them more time and money to get this game finished right out the gates.



As for my opinion on the game itself, I think Jago and Thunder look OK, glacius is kinda meh.....Saberwulf needs to look (and fight more) like he did in KI2 IMO. To expand on that more, I think technically the fighting is good in this new KI but aesthetically it is less appealing....wouldn't you think so, Wes?

Like.... what's a more satisfying launcher for Saberwulf: the one in this new KI where he just waves his arms and makes a green crescent rainbow in the air (that pops your enemy up for some reason?) or that shit in KI2 where he does a graceful backflip like blanka and kicks the other guy into the air like a mule.....?


As for the soundtrack, I think its pretty good.
Pretty awesome in some instances (like Sadiras,) and serviceable in others (like Saberwulfs).
 
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SonGohan

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but these slow assed load times and potential for penny shaving dumbfuckery is news to me.

The load times drive me insane. The music gets me so fucking pumped and I'm staring at a blank spot where the character model should be. It just ends up pissing me off.

Not nearly as bad as the new Forza with cars you have to BUY for the price of the game itself, but still I'm worried about where they are gonna go with this.

The basic download is just a demo, where you can only play as Jago. It's nothing different than other demos. For access to the 6 characters that are there, plus the other 2 that have been confirmed, that's only $20, so it's only $20 for the core game. That's still not too bad. I just happened to shell out another $20 to get the classic Killer Instinct. Too bad you can't play that online, though. Even if other DLC comes out (which it should), by the time you pay the price of a full game ($60), I'm sure you get your content's worth (however, I'm still only speculating).

Though I guess some of the blame can be assigned to Microsoft (the new owners of rares IPs) for not really having faith in the team that made this new KI...they should have given them more time and money to get this game finished right out the gates.

Microsoft has made some pretty terrible decisions regarding the system (didn't one guy even want to completely do away with their video game division?). It doesn't surprise me that they would try to cut corners on a project like this.

As for my opinion on the game itself, I think Jago and Thunder look OK, glacius is kinda meh.....Saberwulf needs to look (and fight more) like he did in KI2 IMO. To expand on that more, I think technically the fighting is good in this new KI but aesthetically it is less appealing....wouldn't you think so, Wes?

I lost a long response to this, so I will try to do it again: I think it looks less aesthetically appealing because there are less fighters to differentiate between. However, why TJ Combo wasn't a day one character just baffles me. I always thought he was a main character in the original game, even tier-wise. Glacius needs more moves/normals to take advantage of the fact that he's made of ice. There's so much shit they could do with him. I was never a big Saberwulf guy, but he also needs more ravaging-looking normals/specials.

As for the soundtrack, I think its pretty good.
Pretty awesome in some instances (like Sadiras,) and serviceable in others (like Saberwulfs).

I like a lot of it, but then some of it just confuses me (like Jagos Cheech and Chong meets a dramatic movie score meets Manowar).

EDIT - Also, those loading videos were captured straight from my xbox.
 
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Poonman

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Yeah, I'm aware its a demo and it's cool that you get the other guys (besides Jago) for 20 bucks...I'm just predicting the totality of the game costing 80+bucks after you buy all these components of a finished title that they'll probably sell on physical media 10 months from now for 59.99 or something.

Like I said, it's not nearly as fucked up as forza...where you'll probably spend the price of a used car for the "complete" game that will never actually be "complete" until they stop making money off of it.


I actually like Jagos theme....in KI they never knew how to depict Jagos tibetan ancestry because they never really gave a fuck...kinda the way MK handled every single one of their asian characters. Or the way Big Trouble in Little China depicted Asian Americans....same with Van Damme movies with mystical ching-chong senseis living in mountains with nothing better to do than to help some handsome white guy find himself and avenge his brother/father/etc.

This shit is awesome to me because these racially oblivious American Karate movies from the 80s were once the fount from which all fighting game inspiration sprung forth into the minds of game creators.

Jagos KI2 theme tapped into that same source of this endearing American cultural obliviousness...it totally has that "oriental" PF changs kumite bullshit vibe to it..... and this new KI theme in many ways pays tribute to it.

As for the similarities with the Cheech and Chong stuff.....I can't say one way or another because I remember so little from those movies....I was like 4 or 5 when watching them with my old man.

Good times though.
 
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Neorebel

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Thanks for posting... I was curious about this game. I am a big KI fan but have never been an xbox user. I'm sure they will update the hell out of that game for the next 6-12 months. I would think they'd recognize the potential they have with doing a new game in that franchise right...
 

Neorebel

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I just happened to shell out another $20 to get the classic Killer Instinct. Too bad you can't play that online, though. Even if other DLC comes out (which it should), by the time you pay the price of a full game ($60), I'm sure you get your content's worth (however, I'm still only speculating).

Are you saying you can get an upscaled port of the arcade original then?
 

lantus360

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great write up - i agree with every single point you made. I've had the game since launch and put many hours into it. the loading is the single most annoying thing about the game. The grind comes second but honestly its not that bad to come up with 5000 points to unlock a soundtrack.

side note : looks like there was a patch yesterday that replaces free Jago with free sabrwulf amongst other things

http://www.polygon.com/2014/1/3/5269672/killer-instinct-patch-free-character-sabrewulf
 

SonGohan

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Are you saying you can get an upscaled port of the arcade original then?

Pretty much. I made a quick video of what it looks like, and some of the features (watch in HD). I stumbled upon the sprite demonstrations for the first time, so I peeked around there while it was recording. I only had access to Combo's sprites & cutscenes because I beat the game with only him so far.


great write up - i agree with every single point you made. I've had the game since launch and put many hours into it. the loading is the single most annoying thing about the game. The grind comes second but honestly its not that bad to come up with 5000 points to unlock a soundtrack.

side note : looks like there was a patch yesterday that replaces free Jago with free sabrwulf amongst other things

http://www.polygon.com/2014/1/3/5269672/killer-instinct-patch-free-character-sabrewulf

I hear you about it not being hard to come up with 5000 KP. It's just coming up with 5000 KP for dozens of different things. Some of the stuff is just tedious as fuck like winning hundreds of matches online with a specific character. I can't stay interested that long to not only play, but make sure I win all those matches. It's just grueling and not fun at all. Maybe it'll unlock after years of casually playing it/winning, but my brain isn't wired to just sit there and let it come to me whenever it comes. I feel the need to go out there and earn it as fast as possible, and I hate it. It hate them for putting me in that position to make that choice, too, haha.

I just checked today and I didn't see any update that dropped. Orchid's alternate costume was available yesterday, but I didn't see anything on Jago yesterday or today. Maybe they dole out the updates in sections? I'm curious to see how the interface has been updated.
 

Lastblade

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Thanks for the writeup, I like KI and played the crap out of it on SNES as well. I don't have X1 though, so I am curious about the game. It is nice to see the original game for $20.
 

TheBigBB

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I downloaded the free version. All I can say right now is that the tutorial is extremely helpful. I wish all fighting games had such an in-depth tutorial.

I just happened to shell out another $20 to get the classic Killer Instinct. Too bad you can't play that online, though.

I read confirmation that they're going to give that an online mode in a coming patch, though my confidence is still not 100% until the day it actually happens.
 
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OrochiEddie

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the game takes that long to load when running off the hard drive? yea....fuck that.


Oh and I'm guessing the classic version is the one that allows this insane shit
 
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ebinsugewa

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I've only played the game on a friend's box, so I haven't had the experience with the KP and all that. But as far as pure gameplay is concerned, it's the most I've enjoyed a fighter in a seriously long time. There's good footsies, mindgames, great tutorial, characters feel distinct, online is supposed to be awesome.
 

NeoSneth

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How you are tards spending $80 for this game?
You can get the whole package for less than $50.

It's a launch game. There are not cost cutting measures. It's a launch game, so it's rushed. Load times and everything are poorly implemented because it's a launch game with rushed programming. All the current games are sloppy on PS4 and XO.

The core fighting mechanics are solid

The features are lacking....

It's worth $40 if you like the series.

The classic game actually let's you select which v.firmware you want to run. So infinite combo's or not.


There are no Forza cars that you can't earn in game, relatively easily. Unless you want all cars...then you just need to join Forza club for free and get millions of credits for nothing.
 
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SonGohan

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How you are tards spending $80 for this game?

Who said anything about it being $80? Spoon made an off-hand comment basically saying if they nickel and dime for DLC he can imagine paying $80+.

L2R
 

genjiglove

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Wes what are your overall impressions of the XBOne in general?
 

SonGohan

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Wes what are your overall impressions of the XBOne in general?

I actually like it a lot. The only real drawback is the lack of games, but it's only been out for like 2 months, so I'm fine with that, knowing it will get better. Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare is coming out at the end of the month and I'm pretty excited about that (I know it's coming out for 360 too). I will wait for Dead Rising 3 to go down before I get that. I'm interesting in checking out Project Spark when it comes out, too.

As for the OS, it's way smoother than the 360. The 360 was updated to the point that it would take forever to load and navigate for me. The XB1 flows like butter. I can literally hit the xbox home button in the middle of the game and it takes me to my dashboard in under a second, and I can quickly fly to any other section I need to. Just being able to do that was such a breath of fresh air. The game DVR is cool, but I'm sure I'll get more excited about it as more games are released. It needs a built-in YouTube function, imo. And the ability to upload raw, uncompressed game footage for people to edit a pure HD file.

Kinect doesn't bother me. I think it's cool that it recognizes my face and automatically signs me in, but it took awhile for it to recognize me, and learn my voice. There's supposed to be workout programs that can even check your heartbeat with the camera, but I haven't played around with that.

I guess it's just a mountain of potential at the moment. I like what I like, but I am really excited about the future with this thing.
 

ebinsugewa

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Next 'season' being taken over by Iron Galaxy, same people that did the Marvel Origins/3rd Strike/Darkstalkers rereleases.
 

Taiso

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I read the OP after the bump. Sorry for the late thoughts.

Great writeup, Wes. I enjoyed every bit of your review.
 
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