Killer Instinct: Season 2 – Review
Follow Genre: Fighting
Developer: Rare ltd, Microsoft Studios, Double Helix Games, Iron Galaxy Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox One
Tested on: Xbox One

Killer Instinct: Season 2 – Review

Site Score
Good: Old school, Great mechanics, Appearance
Bad: New characters feel a bit out of place
User Score
(2 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Killer Instinct, the cult hit that originally appeared on the Super Nintendo, has been back for a while, and recently the second season went live. As the new version of the game is a season based formula, every season releases several new characters for you to buy. The peculiar thing about season two is the fact that many new warriors enter the fray, with only a few classic characters being revived. Nonetheless it seems Microsoft has done a great job in balancing old and new.



As is the case with many fighting games, there is no actual grand story to be found but many smaller plots that intertwine on certain occasions. All of the added season 2 fighters have their own background stories, which are often kept quite basic but, at the same time they will prove interesting enough to try out all of the different characters in the story mode.

Whilst you will explore the nine small storylines in several hours, they prove to be of great use to get more attached to the fighter of your liking. Overall the stories might be fairly bland but they add some well appreciated depth to the cast of old familiar fighters, as well as those new to the world of Killer Instinct.


Graphically the game still has a decent amount of subtle winks to the older games, thanks to its color palette, but Killer Instinct for the Xbox One looks spiffy. Characters are detailed, move realistically and there are some lighter touches to the overall design of the more ‘fantasy’ characters. The new competitors from season 2 have slightly more grim touches, making them feel a bit more out of place when looking at the original cast from Season 1 and the old well known characters from season 2. Nonetheless the newly added fighters each have great designs and even their oddball looks make them fit right in.

Environments have the right amount of details to keep them interesting, even with the lack of background action. All of the sets are detailed and each of the characters has their own lair, which they call home, albeit only esthetically.



Killer Instinct has the proper soundtrack to keep battles interesting, be it thanks to the fairly heavier tracks, which get the adrenaline pumping, the commentator screaming when pulling off combos or combo breakers or the decent voice acting that the game presents you with. That being said, the voice acting has been kept to a bare minimum, with a few quotes and the proper grunting and shouting.


Killer Instinct stays true to its roots and thus it is a genuine fighting game without that many extra whistles and bells. You’ll spend your time either training for battle, fighting CPUs or having a round of fistycuffs with friends or strangers.

The training features in the game just like in many other fighting games as you can work on your basics, combos and of course the elusive ‘combo breakers’ that have been well known since the start of the Killer Instinct series. Throughout most of the different training types you’ll be able to adjust certain difficulty settings and try out new things with the character of your choice. Simple as it may sound, the different training modes actually do help learning/mastering the different aspects of the game.

When you have been molded to the perfect fighting machine you always wanted to be, you’ll be ready to start fighting your way through the story mode, to learn about all of the different characters, or more importantly fight other players offline or online. When fighting battles, you’ll gain experience per character, as well as for your personal account. This will unlock new icons and taglines to customize your own profile.


The mechanics of Killer Instinct are actually pretty straightforward and not that much has changed since the good old days. Your special moves are reasonably easy to perform, as you’ll often be required to perform a few directional commands in combination with one or more attack buttons. Each character has its own set of moves. Some work more with rotational commands (sticks) while other fighters require a different input (for example going up and down before you attack).

Even though most of this formula works well and is well appreciated by the Killer Instinct veterans, the developers tried to add some new mechanics for season 2. The new batch of fighters tries to do things differently, by adding new stances, other ways of performing special moves and even a character that has three (smaller) health bars instead of two, due to its different fighting modes. Whilst at the beginning these other mechanics might feel out of place, they happen to bring something new to the game, keeping it fresh.

If you lack the time to beat your online opponents to a bloody pulp, you’ll be able to use the Shadow Lab mode in order to create a shadow of your abilities and let it run rampant in the – online – wild. To create a shadow you’ll have to fight the ‘dojo master Jago’ several times, with a character you’re good with. During each battle Jago will use different tactics, thus testing your abilities when facing different situations. When your shadow is ready to ‘graduate’, you’ll have to fight it yourself to see if it actually feels like fighting yourself. Truth be told, it does. Overall a fun feature worth exploring, even for training purposes.


Killer Instinct has a lot of strengths but it also has a decent amount of flaws. The pay per character system is not the most attractive feature of them all, especially if you wish to purchase the fighters of both season 1 and 2. Other than that, the loading times for such a fast paced fighting game are simply horrible. Rendering a character in the loading screen feels as if somewhere in the world someone is hand drawing the picture for you. This is not only annoying, but it also ends up breaking the overall mood.

We were lucky enough to try out the Ultra Edition of season 2, which presented us with the extra Killer Instinct 2 ‘game’. This is actually a slightly tweaked version of the arcade edition with the same name, which will give you the chance to play an authentically old Killer Instinct game. That being said, the game has been updated enough to add an online mode and a slightly better control scheme than in the past.


Killer Instinct (Season 2) shines a great light on the fighting genre with its simple, yet hard to master, mechanics and its old school vibe. Even though season 1 and 2 combined only offer a cast of 17 fighters, these will suffice in giving you enough characters to master or worry about when in the heat of battle. Add attractive visuals and the proper combat music to the equation, and you’ll be performing those Ultra combos in no time. Don’t let anyone ‘Combo Break’ you in the process.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
Killer Instinct: Season 2 - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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