Killer Instinct Killer Instinct

Gamer's Notebook

New consoles, familiar characters

By Chris O'Neal 07/18/2013


Technology moves fast. Not a day goes by that something new doesn’t come along. New consoles, new technology to make said consoles better than the previous consoles (which aren’t that old to begin with), new games for said consoles that bring us one step closer to full-immersion gaming. There’s an old philosophy in the gaming industry, that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, which would explain why developers often resurrect old, well-respected titles. This year will see the return of two franchises that haven’t seen the light of day in a good long while.


Everyone raves about Fallout, the post-apocalyptic doomsday role-playing game that sees you as a survivor traversing the ruined lands in search of bottle caps. No one talks about Mad Max, though, the progenitor of the genre. When Mel Gibson took on the role of Max in the 1979 film, obsession with a world gone wrong began, and next year we’ll see a video game adaptation that promises to rekindle the apocalyptic spirit.


Mad Max, from developers Avalanche Studios and KMM Games, follows Max into the world introduced in the original film, only this time a little toned down from your ’70s cheesiness. In the debut trailer, Max walks confidently between burning vehicles, destroys mutants and challenges drivers in what one could assume is the Thunder Dome.


Players aren’t given a vehicle, though. Unlike the destruction machine Gibson drove, this Mad Max has to construct a sick ride out of parts found in the desert and scavenged from defeated enemies, all for the desire to retire and live a peaceful life — after busting a few heads.


Slated for a release sometime in 2014, Mad Max will be released across multiple platforms. Expect to hear news of a multiplayer aspect in the near future, or at the very least, a movie tie-in. (There is going to be a new Mad Max film; deal with it.)


If breaking necks and causing multivehicle accidents doesn’t satiate your killer instinct, perhaps the return of Killer Instinct will. Back in the Super Nintendo days, Killer Instinct was the younger, slightly dumber brother of Mortal Kombat. Face it: As much fun as it was to battle a skeleton with a werewolf, nothing about Killer Instinct screamed deep thought — even though the amount of time spent on it was tangible — and now it returns as an Xbox One exclusive.


Set for a digital-only release, Killer Instinct has updated its fighting ways. After all, in the years since its return, the fighting genre has grown by massive degrees. Street Fighter is no longer just a basic fighter, even King of Fighters is as complicated as some engineering text books. How can a classic title compete in this, the world of the massive combo chains and tech skills?


Updated artwork makes the game beautiful. When, as a pre-pubescent boy, we strained to get a better glimpse of Black Orchid’s infamous flash fatality (in which the female character literally flashed her opponent and they died of . . . it’s still unclear how they died), now we see the characters in crystal clarity.


We also are able to complete combos at a much faster, easier rate. Stuck in a massive barrage of blows? No worry, Killer Instinct allows players to counter and unleash their own fists of fury. Does that mean developer Double Helix has dumbed it down? Yes, of course.


The interesting thing about Killer Instinct is how it will be released. It’ll be free to play upon launch of the Xbox One. Well, kind of. One character will be available for free – Jago, a ninja or something – and the others you’ll have to pay for. Is this the future of gaming? Probably. Get used to it.


Even with the onset of a brave new world of console fanboyism, we can still rely on developers to recycle. They’re the most environmentally conscious people on the planet.


Mad Max will be released in 2014; Killer Instinct will be available this November.

Chris O’Neal is waiting for a Pacific Rim fighting game. Follow him on Twitter @agentoneal.

 

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