Released back in 2014 the original Door Kickers was tactical strategy game where you took control of a SWAT team in charge of defusing tense situations and eliminating threats. The game received a lot of praise for its innovative approach to the genre. Four years later the sequel Door Kickers: Action Squad arrived and it was not what you would expect out of a sequel to a well liked game. Instead of the tactical strategy game where you had to carefully plan out how to storm a location, Door Kickers: Action Squad decided to throw out all of that careful planning and instead turned it into an action game where your SWAT team goes in guns blazing to eliminate the threats. While I never played the original Door Kickers or the sequel when it was released on PC, with the sequel’s upcoming release on consoles (PlayStation 4, Xbox One – October 24th, Nintendo Switch – October 28th) I wanted to check it out as the concept looked really interesting and I am always willing to check out a good co-op game. Door Kickers: Action Squad presents an action packed and innovative experience that is a blast to play with a friend even though it may be a little on the easy side at times.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank PixelShard, and KillHouse Games for the review copy of Door Kickers: Action Squad used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
In Door Kickers: Action Squad you and a partner play as SWAT/FBI agents. In each level you must clear out a location that is filled with dangerous criminals and in most cases have taken hostages. You choose which character class you want to play as and then head to the location. When you arrive your goal is to clear the area of bad guys and deal with any other issues at the location including rescuing hostages or deactivating bombs. Instead of taking things slowly and carefully you will go in guns blazing to take out any threats. This mostly involves breaking down doors and shooting any enemies that get in your way. To finish the level you must defeat all of the enemies and complete all of the other objectives.
If it wasn’t already pretty obvious Door Kickers: Action Squad plays a lot differently than the original Door Kickers. There is some strategic planning in the game as you are sometimes given several different entry points into a room. You will usually just run and gun though. You use a button to knock down the door and then start shooting at any enemies that you encounter. The shooting is basic as you just keep pressing the shoot button in order to shoot at enemies as there is no aiming in the game. The game also allows you to bring support items with you. While you are mostly just running and gunning you have to be somewhat careful as many of the rooms contain hostages. If you shoot wildly into the room you likely will kill the hostages. Each enemy you kill, hostage you save, or other objectives you complete will add to your special ability meter which gives you access to health packs or other benefits.
While most of the gameplay involves just shooting the enemies that get in your way, there is some occasional variety. First there is a variety of different characters to choose from which provide various negatives and positives as well as different levels of difficulty. The different classes that you can choose from range from agents with heavy firepower to agents who carry a large shield, and characters with skills that make sneaking or dodging enemy attacks easier. The game also features a couple different types of levels. A majority of levels involve defeating enemies and rescuing hostages. There are also levels where you have to just defeat all of the enemies, capture the level boss, and there are even some levels where there is a ticking time bomb that you have to deactivate in time or it is game over.
People who were hoping for a tactical strategy game like the original Door Kickers are going to be disappointed as outside of the theme Door Kickers: Action Squad shares very little in common with the original game. While I never played the original game, this is not a bad thing as Door Kickers: Action Squad is a really fun game. I would say that it kind of plays like a combination of an action game mixed with an arcade game. The game is focused on keeping up a fast pace as you storm from room to room clearing them out instead of putting a lot of thought into how you will proceed. There are opportunities to find the best entrance point into a room but that is about it. Instead you are meant to go in running and gunning to take out all of the enemies while remaining alert to avoid killing the hostages.
Door Kickers: Action Squad might not have a ton of depth as you just run from room to room killing all hostiles you encounter. Nonetheless the game is really fun. There is just something really satisfying about kicking down a door and eliminating all of the enemies behind the door before they even know what happened. The controls are really simple and they work really well. I noticed no issues with the conversion from PC to consoles as the game plays well on consoles. People who want a more strategic and tactical SWAT game are probably going to be disappointed as it doesn’t really have much of either. People who just want a fun game that you don’t have to put too much thought into though should have a lot of fun with the game.
Some people may not really care for the game’s pixel art style but I thought it was quite good. The game features pixel art very reminiscent of 1980s and early 1990s video games. I thought the graphics were quite detailed and did a great job reinforcing the game’s overall theme. The game really plays into the 1980s and 1990s action movie theme. I will say that I was a little surprised by how violent the game can be though for a game that uses pixel art and has a teen rating. Not surprising a lot of bullets fly in the game which leads to quite a bit of blood. Bodies also explode from time to time which leads to quite a bit of pixelated blood.
One of the main reasons that I was interested in checking out Door Kickers: Action Squad is that the game seemed to heavily feature a co-op mode where two players could work together in order to clear out the locations. In addition to the single player mode, Door Kickers: Action Squad features both local co-op and online multiplayer where you can play all of the missions. I played the game in local co-op with my brother and we had a lot of fun. With two players you could have one player choose a class with more powerful weapons while the other player plays as a more defensive class. We liked to have one player use the shield to absorb enemy bullets while the other player followed behind with a high powered gun to wipe out enemies quickly. I think the co-op works because it is enjoyable working with another player to clear out the rooms. There are situations where partners can approach a room in two different ways which allows you to catch the enemies off guard. Outside of maybe getting more of a challenge out of the game playing it alone, I see no reason not to try and play the game with another player. Fans of co-op games will probably have a blast with the mode.
So this might be because I played the entire game in co-op but I didn’t find Door Kickers: Action Squad to be all that difficult. Rarely did we fail a mission and when we did it was mostly because an enemy surprised us by using an explosive before we could take them out. Reaching the end of a level is usually not very difficult as you can catch the enemies off guard and mow them down before they even notice you. The only thing that makes you a little hesitant about unloading a ton of bullets into each room is trying to avoid shooting hostages. Most of the time you can still run and gun through a room and not have to worry about hitting a hostage. If you are careless though you will end up killing hostages.
Basically the only difficulty in the game comes from perfecting levels. Each level in the game has three different stars. You begin the level with three stars and lose stars for the mistakes you make. If one of the players or hostages die you will automatically be bumped down to two stars. After a couple deaths you will be dropped down to one star and so on. If you just want to beat all of the levels without caring about how many stars you acquire, the game should be quite easy. Outside of the accomplishment of perfecting a level there isn’t that much of a benefit for perfecting levels. The stars are only used to unlock new equipment and you can quickly purchase all of the equipment you need so the stars you acquire will just sit there unused.
In most of the levels it is not even that difficult to get two stars and there are levels where it is quite easy to get three stars. It is quite hard to perfect some of the levels though. This is mostly due to hostages being killed in crossfire or enemies surprising you and taking you out before you can respond. In a lot of cases when you make a mistake it is your fault as you didn’t approach the situation in the best way. There are also times where you will shoot hostages due to a anxious trigger finger or by firing too many bullets into a room. Sometimes though it feels like there is nothing you could do as enemies surprise you or kill hostages before you can save them. This could lead to some times where you have to restart a level just because you were unlucky.
How much time you get out of Door Kickers: Action Squad is going to somewhat depend on the player. The main campaign has 72 different levels. These levels differ in layout and the situations you will have to face. Unless you take the levels really slowly you can finish most of them in just a couple minutes. To complete each level with a perfect rating will add quite a bit of time to the game though as you have to familiarize yourself with the level as well as have some luck on your side. In addition to the main campaign the game also includes a zombie mode. The zombie mode is very similar to the main campaign as it utilizes the same levels. The only difference is that the levels are more difficult as you have to deal with a zombie portal that unleashes zombies who kill both the enemies and hostages that they encounter. You need to shut down the zombie portal in order to stop the spread of zombies. This is an interesting mode even though it doesn’t drastically change up the gameplay. Finally the game offers an endless mode where you try to clear as many floors as you can before you are killed. These other modes add some extra gameplay to Door Kickers: Action Squad. If you do just the bare minimum you might not get a ton of time out of the game. If you try to perfect all of the levels though as well as try out the additional modes you could get quite a bit of time out of Door Kickers: Action Squad.
Door Kickers: Action Squad is not what you would expect from your typical video game sequel. The original Door Kickers was a top down tactical strategy game while the sequel is about as far from that as you can get. In Door Kickers: Action Squad you play as a SWAT member that is sick of waiting around creating a plan on how to resolve the situation. Instead they just want to storm the location and take out all of the bad guys. This leads to a run and gun action game as you kick down doors and kill any enemy that stands in the way of completing your objective. The gameplay may seem a little basic but it is hard to deny that it is a blast to play. The controls work really well providing for a fun experience that is even more enjoyable when a friend tags along. The graphical style and overall theme is very reminiscent of 1980s and 1990s action movies. It might just be because I played the game co-op but it seems to be a little on the easy side as you just mow through the enemies. The only real challenge comes from perfecting the levels. While Door Kickers: Action Squad features 72 levels it is a little on the short side, unless you try to perfect every level, as most levels can be completed in just a couple minutes.
If you are looking for more of a tactical strategy game or don’t really care for the game’s theme, Door Kickers: Action Squad probably won’t be for you. If you are looking for a fun action game where you just kick down doors and shoot bad guys though I think you will have a lot of fun with the game especially if you have a friend that can tag along for the adventure. I really enjoyed my time with Door Kickers: Action Squad and I would recommend that you look into picking it up.