Killer Instinct Review

Loitering temptingly in the Xbox One's store, Killer Instinct's freemium model at first appears to be a good deal. Look closer, however, and you'll see a game hamstrung by obvious design failings and a microtransaction system, both conspiring to keep a good fighter down.

Its initial setup is solid, as Killer Instinct can take on many roles to satisfy players of varying skill levels. Button mashers and veteran joystick wigglers can unite in favour of a combo system that appears simplistic on first inspection, but turns out to offer a surprising amount of depth.

Unfortunately, the speed at which characters such as Jago are able to unleash attacks means even the most thoughtful of players will occasionally throw away competition-level control for a finger-based River Dance on the new controller.

While your body remains perfectly still, hyperactive hand movements continuously rehearse and execute an offensive routine that progresses through a chain opener attack, a handful of weak moves, and then a super. Mixing up your command pattern and distance produces varying results, while building the game's Shadow and Instinct meters provide access to stronger variations of attack.

Multiplayer bouts are often topsy-turvy affairs. One player will reel off a decent combo until a lull in the action lets the battered fighter do the same to their opponent. Although you can reverse a chain of attacks by perfectly timing a Shadow move before your enemy's next contact, the game's restless speed makes consistent blocking a chore.

Online contests are randomly generated and don't offer any kind of lobby play, a huge oversight considering the popularity of competitive fighters: something you'd think Microsoft would want to take advantage of through the Xbox One's capture capabilities. Single-player is also limited to training with Jago or entering Survival mode, both of which quickly become tiresome.

Killer Instinct possesses the fundamentals to be a crowd-pleasing title, and certainly does a decent job of inviting less experienced players into the genre, but its limited modes and insistence on milking your funds KOs a game with potential.

Played for 7 hours.

5 / 10

  • Intuitive combo system for all types of player to enjoy.
  • An inviting beat 'em up at heart.
  • Lack of multiplayer options.
  • Unfinished and itching to steal your wallet.

Click above for enlarged Killer Instinct Screenshots


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User Comments

Endless's Avatar


The full game is £ this £17 worth of game? I've seen much less for more than this. You pay another £17 or whatever when the rest of the characters are added and additional modes added and the existing ones updated.

It's certainly a far cry from paying £40 for an unfinished game. I dont think that would be fair. Buying characters without being able to trial them first is rubbish though.
Posted 23:28 on 04 December 2013
Dreamcaster's Avatar


I refuse to buy the game until it's complete. I played it at a friends house over Thanksgiving & while I enjoyed the gameplay it just felt incomplete even with the initial round of fighters. Between this & all the microtransactions in Forza & Crimson Dragon I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.
Posted 16:52 on 04 December 2013
A_Boome's Avatar


I got the game for $20 and I'm pretty happy with it. Sure I want more content, but I'm also not paying full retail price for this game. I'm happy with the way they are doing their purchase model. I like having the options to buy all the fighters for $20 or individually only the ones I want.
Posted 16:44 on 04 December 2013
MJTH's Avatar


The problem this has is that you are essentially (and quite literally) are paying for an unfinished game. This time next year when all the season one characters are out, the season 2 characters will be half out and a few new finished modes then will be a great game.

Now it's just not ready, which isn't surprising since it's only had a years development.
Posted 16:20 on 04 December 2013
MrScottyTay's Avatar


'finger-based River Dance' best description of button mashing ever!
Posted 15:45 on 04 December 2013

Game Stats

Killer Instinct
Out of 10
Killer Instinct - No boxshot available.
  • Intuitive combo system for all types of player to enjoy.
  • An inviting beat 'em up at heart.
  • Lack of multiplayer options.
  • Unfinished and itching to steal your wallet.
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 01/11/2013
Platform: Xbox One
Publisher: Microsoft
Genre: Fighting
Rating: TBC
Site Rank: 1,370 7
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