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EventHubs exclusive: Killer Instinct general gameplay and Thunder character impressions by DreamKing

Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • August 26, 2013 at 12:12 p.m. PDT • Comments: 39
EventHubs exclusive: Killer Instinct general gameplay and Thunder character impressions by DreamKing Last week, Double Helix Games brought the current build of Killer Instinct, that which features Thunder, to Super Arcade for another installment of Killer Instinct Fridays. This event marked the first time Thunder was playable to the public in the US, and I was able to make my way down to Super Arcade for a few hours of playtime.

To give a quick bit of info about myself, I am the lead news editor here at EventHubs and have been playing fighting games seriously since 2009 (Street Fighter 4). I also create combo videos ranging from basic character guides to more non-practical, flashy stuff.

I've spent countless hours grinding out matches, analyzing strategies, and sitting in training mode hitting the same inputs over and over until my combo was just right. What I'm getting at is, we here at EventHubs know a thing or two about fighting games.

On to the matter at hand. I played Thunder for virtually the entire night at KI Fridays, so what follows are my impressions of the character and general thoughts about the game. If you'd like to get some insider information on Killer Instinct's latest roster addition, hit the jump and give our article a read through.

Editor's note: Please keep in mind that these are early impressions and solely based off of my personal experience with the game. Some information here may be subject to change in the future.

EventHubs' Killer Instinct Thunder impressions

• Thunder is designed to fit the Grappler archetype in the upcoming Xbox One exclusive, Killer Instinct.

• He retains great damage output, with combos that can net over 60% with the use of 2 meters.

• Thunder can use his back throw as a Linker, which will toss the opponent to the opposite side of him. This is a great tactic to use when you find yourself cornered and want to put yourself into a better position on screen.

• Regular back throw also leads to a full grounded combo. Comboing after a throw scales the KV meter (Knockdown Value meter) fairly hard, so you won't be able to score nearly as many hits as a normal combo. In this situation, my combo of choice throughout the night was Back Throw, st. HP, MP Triplax (Linker), HP Auto Double, HP Command Throw Ender. This combo pretty much tapped out the KV meter and resulted in a damage of 40 - 45%. Considering this was a meterless combo and came from a normal Back Throw, it is safe to say that Thunder's damage output is something to be feared.

• Thunder also has some soild normals. Standing Heavy Punch has great range and is special cancel-able. Using this attack in conjunction with a Triplax or Ankle Slicer works very well to close distance between you and your opponent.

• Standing Heavy Kick is a straight kick that functions as a decent poke. I found it worked best when the opponent was cornered. Once a st. HK made contact with them, more often than not, they became hesitant to hit any buttons back. This made for an effective command throw set up.

• Jumping Heavy Punch and crouching Heavy Punch were also solid normals. Crouching Heavy Punch worked well as a quick anti-air, when reacting with a Sammamish just wasn't in the cards.

• Horn Breaker (Forward + Heavy Punch) is a two-hit overhead with quite a bit of range on it. This command normal is special cancel-able and can go into a Light Punch Triplax for some safe pressure or into Ankle Slicer for a tricky high/low mix up.

• EX Call of the Earth (command throw) leads into a free juggle. The most common follow up I used was st. HP, HP Sammamish, Sky Fall. The chances of Sky Fall, (down + Heavy Kick after Sammamish), successfully connecting after a Sammamish, seemed fickle. Sometimes it hit the opponent on the way down, and sometimes it whiffed, leaving me completely open for a punish upon landing.

• Heavy Kick Ankle Slicer has incredible range. It works as a combo opener, has a quick start up, and hits low. At mid-range, Thunder can go into either Horn Breaker (overhead) or Ankle Slicer (low) in order to get the ball rolling.

• Thunder's Shadow moves work well on wake up and as tricky counters to an an opponent pressing buttons. EX Sammamish is a viable reversal option and if blocked, can be followed up with Sky Fall for an additional attack or mix up.

• I found myself using EX Call of the Earth (command throw) much like I would Abel's EX Tornado Throw in SSF4 AE v2012. It seemed to go through enemy attacks and worked well after a Light Punch Triplax up close.

• Although Thunder has ways of moving in quickly, much like a traditional grappler, it feels like he struggles against smart zoning. Jago's fireball game seemed to give me trouble when the opponent stayed almost full screen away. Even with Sammamish going through fireballs, if the Jago's spacing is right, they can punish you when you land. Thunder's Instinct Mode does help with this, but seeing as though you can only use it once per game, you'll have to get in and do your damage quickly.

I have had two opportunities to get my hands on Double Helix Games' latest project, and after sitting down for quite a bit of uninterrupted play this time around, I learned a whole lot. In my opinion, this iteration of Killer Instinct is shaping up to be an excellent fighter. With Combo Breakers, Counter Breakers, Shadow Counters, Instinct Mode cancels and more, there is a very satisfying, intricate meta game going on during every match. You have to keep track of how much Shadow meter you have, how far you've pushed the KV meter during a combo, and the Doubles you choose to go for during those combos. These factors are a staple in every single bout, and you find yourself thinking about these things so often that it keeps you on your toes.

The speed in which combos are performed feels slightly slower than other fighting games that are on the scene right now, but this in no way takes away from the flow of a match. The gameplay style is fast paced, and Double Helix Games has done a great job of keeping with the theme of encouraging players to get in each others' faces and stay there. Wait until you see a knowledgeable Sabrewulf player get their rushdown going; it's...quite scary.

Players are really going to have to learn each character's Double animations if they want to survive in higher level play. Combo Breakers are very difficult to pull off when you first sit down with the game, solely due to unfamiliarity with how each specific Double looks. Over time, they become more recognizable, and patterns from your opponents begin to emerge. This creates another level of meta game, and once Counter Breakers come into play, things get really interesting.

Closing thoughts: Overall, I feel that Killer Instinct is insatiably fun. It leaves you wanting to play as many games as your hands could possibly bear. Not only is the gameplay enjoyable, but the graphics in the upcoming Xbox One exclusive are gorgeous.

The combo system is absolutely satisfying, and with each of the intricate game mechanics in place, the tide of a match can change in the blink of an eye. I can not wait to get my hands on Killer Instinct again, if / when it returns to Super Arcade.

Image source: Double Helix Games' Facebook page.
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