I’ll start off by saying that I am a lot less concerned about Season 3 than I was with Season 2, which had me worried from beginning to end and, frankly, will go down as my least favorite season. Although all of us would prefer both, MS/IG seems to be going with the quality over quantity mantra that was missing in Season 2 and I think is best for Killer Instinct.
While there is some discrepancy in quality between the characters, there is nothing that really makes you scratch your head. Here are my thoughts:
It’s no secret that I think Rash is a poor fit for Killer Instinct’s relatively realistic design/art direction but only because he’s an over-the-top cartoon character with cartoony animations, almost giving us a case of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’. From an artistic standpoint, it just doesn’t jive well with the game’s aesthetic cohesion.
That major gripe aside, Rash is simply one of the best modeled, animated and realized characters in the entire game (not just Season 3), and his wackiness and relatively simple gameplay will surely attract many people to game and win him many fans.
It’s always nice for KI to get a female character, so Kim Wu is welcomed. However, while she has a very interesting gameplay (too Marvel-esque for KI, if you ask me), MS/IG seem to have given her the least attention with regards to character model, animations and overall design. There is also something very inexplicably off about how she looks in-game, and it probably has something to do with her modeling and size.
Is it just me or does it look like MS/IG took Maya’s character model and shrunk it to create Kim Wu? The two share a common physiology that’s a departure from the other four humanoid females (Orchid, Sadira, Hisako and Aria), and it’s not really wow-inducing.
EDIT: I get that Kim Wu’s fighting style is inspired by Bruce Lee’s, but we have seen other similarly-inspired characters (Fie Long) with more dynamic moves than she has. Her movements and animations are too static and are isolated to just the body parts performing the moves.
She’s also too effect-heavy, with even her normals having over-sized energy effects. It hides her movements.
Kim Wu’s got bite but comes off as one of the blandest and least standout characters in the game. I predict that she will be underused like many of the Season 2 characters, despite her many gimmicks.
Much like Rash, Arbiter is very well-modeled, animated and realized character with a dominating gameplay that will bring a lot of new blood into KI. However, I think MS/IG was too literal with his design, especially his size.
I get that the Sangheili are supposed to be notably bigger than humans on average; however, I don’t think he needed to be almost the size of Aganos to convey that message. He’s a very girthy character, so just making him slightly taller than Tusk in-game would have been enough to communicate that he’s a behemoth, while making a match between him and the smallest characters (Kim Wu and Hisako, especially) not look weird.
Unfortunately, because he’s basically a giant, he comes across as lumbering, his moves appear clumsier than they probably should, and his carbine and bombs look tiny.
Cinder was arguably the most anticipated character in Season 2, but it seems MS/IG didn’t give him the attention that a flagship character comparable to Jago or Fulgore deserved, hence why he isn’t all that popular. I feared that Tusk would be treated the same way, but I’m glad MS/IG learned their lesson.
Tusk, to me, is the best realized character in Season 3 so far and one of the best in the entire game. Aside from his face, everything about him screams quality and I am especially impressed by his animations.
He’s big and powerful but not too big as to look clumsy (cough* Arbiter), his moves have impact and flow smoothly, and his gameplay looks very gratifying. While not exactly as cool as the original Tusk, he’s a badass in his own right. Home run.
More on Kim Wu and Tusk’s faces, I think Microsoft might be trying a new facial animation technique that needs some ironing out.
So, do you agree with my assessment? What are your thoughts?