Door Kickers is an innovative realtime strategy game that puts you in charge of a SWAT team and lets you command them during a tactical intervention.
Analyze the situation, plan team routes, choose equipment and breach points and coordinate multiple troopers to reach the hostage room before the bad guys get to press that trigger.
It may sound daunting, and like real world CQB combat, it sure is. But most levels can be completed in minutes and on the fly improvisation works. Achieving the perfect planning, getting the mission done with no false steps, that’s a skill harder to master.
2D, Top Down for optimal tactical analysis
Real Time With Free Pause
No turns, no hexes, no action points or awkward interfaces
Realistic but action packed
Non-linear levels, freeform gameplay
Mission editor and modability
Unlimited gameplay via mission generator and level editor
Single Player (but MP might come later)
OS: Windows XP SP3
Processor: Intel Pentium IV 2.6 GHz or equivalent
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: An OpenGL 2.0 graphics adapter. NOT SUPPORTED: Radeon X1950, Intel GMA, Intel Gxx, Intel Qxx, Intel Mobile 9xx, Intel HD Graphics 1 or older.
Storage: 2 GB available space
Additional Notes: 1366x768 minimum display resolution
Variable. Up to 25 hours to complete every map in the game once.
October 20, 2014
PC, OSX, iOS, Android, Linux
Developer: KillHouse Games
Publisher: KillHouse Games
Genre: Real-Time Tactics (RTT)
I was able to experience just enough of Rainbow Six in 1998 (while played completely in map mode lest my Celeron processor-powered PC have a meltdown) to gain a feel for its revolutionary take on FPS games, introducing strategic concepts beyond managing health and ammunition while enacting a genocidal rampage. The lives of hostages and playable characters were dependent on the player’s neutralization of bogeys—no respawns. Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta teams could execute orders orders simultaneously or in phases from multiple locations across the map. The game was my first introduction to the legendary Heckler & Koch MP5. The tactical purposes of flashbangs, smoke bombs, and door-breaching were entirely new concepts in gaming to me. I enjoyed what parts of Rainbow Six that I could play.
Door Kickers is one of those indie games that perhaps would have never been on my radar if it were not for Valve incentivizing users to browse their discovery queues during the 2015 Winter Sale. It is a good thing.
KillHouse Games does not bother with a story in Door Kickers, but instead, provides sentence-length descriptions to introduce campaign sorties. I am ok with this.
Violence: It is possible to turn off (or turn up) the blood spots that appear as a result of friends and foes being shot. Chalked silhouettes indicate the dead rather than bodies. Hostages can be killed by friendly fire (usually a shotgun), and they can be executed by hostiles after being told “Time to die.”
Drugs and Alcohol: Some missions require players to raid houses and warehouses where drug producers, drug dealers, and drug lords reside. Collecting drug-related evidence is at times an objective. Drug use, however, is not in the game.
Door Kickers begins with the campaign modes locked in order to steer players into the single missions which behave as trial-by-fire tutorials. I was at first upset by this restriction, but KillHouse Games knew what they were doing. Rather than provide extensive and prolix missions that teach the basics, these single missions begin as brief maps that can be conquered in just seconds and eventually evolve into complex missions which demand scrupulous planning and execution.
It is during the single missions where subtleties such as how to position a squad member outside of a door ready to shoot while another kicks it in so that neither is caught with his foot in the air while bogeys on the other side already have their arms trained from the other side. Actually, there is no guarantee that players will learn that flashbangs should be thrown from the side of a door rather than in the dead center of one, but being on the wrong end of enough surprise shotguns to the face should be motivation.
I was ten hours deep into Door Kickers before I “mastered” proper waypoint creation methodology. The games includes a looping video as a demonstration as a quick reference, but some lessons can only be learned through experience. Forcing strafes, assigning breaching tasks coded to A-B-C-D “go” commands, and prompting reloading requires patience. I did at times feel bored and disinterested in creating a flawless plan for larger maps, but my dispassion would diminish into frustration as some component of my plan would inevitably go wrong due to my listlessness: an officer barges into a room with five thugs in it before his squadmate throws the stinger grenade; an officer gets it in the buttocks because I set him to face the wrong direction while standing post; I forget to force a breach at a locked door and everyone just stands at the door doing nothing, and when I manually prompt a lockpick or breach with a soldier, all of his future waypoints are deleted; I forget to give a soldier any waypoints at all because the mission allows me to deploy eight men. The latter case is not terrible because he can be manually controlled, but having more than one “loose” unit is not recommended. After all, faster clear times means more stars for gear upgrades, and it is more efficient to have squads execute plans with lightning swiftness.
Single missions do not just serve as player training, but also squad training. Every deployed soldier gains experience after a successful mission, allowing them to individually improve their stats of marksmanship (accuracy, targeting speed) assaulter (proficiency with rifles) and field skills ( speed at lock picking, planting breach charges). As singular soldiers gain levels, the squad as a whole does as well. When this happens, the player gains a “doctrine” point that can be allocated to passive skills for the enhancement of soldier performance.
After the squad gains enough levels, a new class is unlocked. Door Kickers features a total of five unique classes: pointman, assaulter, breacher, shield, and stealth. Pointmen can only carry pistols, but are also the most mobile. It is recommended for them to have high accuracy and high field skills; I usually give them raider armor for its sturdy back and front plates, but no armor on the sides for speed. Assaulters carry automatic rifles for medium to long distances and heavy firefights; I like them moderately to densely armored. Breachers wield shotguns and are specialists at purging rooms of tangos, but they may cause collateral damage to hostages. The most underwhelming class, the shield, holds a pistol in one hand, and a shield in the other. They are robust, yet they still fall to heavy firepower. The stealth class is the last class unlocked at squad level 16, and they use suppressed versions of the automatic weapons available to the assaulter class. After taking the appropriate doctrine, the stealth class can “hold fire,” preventing them from engaging upon enemies on first sight and allowing players to be more strategic in the element of surprise until they are ready to clash. This class is a requirement in specific missions where terrorists have guns to the heads of hostages, ready to fire when threatened.
Door Kickers is challenging, but generally fair. If a mission goes poorly, it is normally the player’s fault. I have perceived some inconsistencies in enemy AI, however. In an escort mission (I know that “protect the VIP” is relevant to the genre and themes of Door Kickers, but note to developers: there is no such thing as a “fun escort mission” in video games), I positioned a solder to guard an ally. Inexplicably, the AI coming around the corner would get off a shot before my soldier guarding that direction would. In that same mission which features a long street with cars blocking my vision, the AI could shoot to kill seemingly from across the map, yet none of my squad could detect any bogeys, and would just take bullets without retaliating.
I managed to finish this mission with a 2/3 squad members KIA. Instead of restarting like I usually do, I “continued” to the ensuing mission, wondering what was next because escort missions suck. After finding out the next mission would be easier (execute and arrest), I tried restarting the escort mission, but two of my soldiers were still KIA. That is by design and fair—KIA troops are replaced after finishing a campaign. Well, I finished that (Drug) campaign and started a new one (Boat), and for some reason, the game glitched and labeled two more of my squad KIA even though nobody had died during this campaign, leaving me with two KIAs and the two rookies who replaced the previous KIAs to complete final mission in the campaign. KillHouse Games is very active on the steam forums and told me that if it happens again, I should contact them directly. Yay for customer service, boo for bug!
From the “enemy spotted” to the “tango down” radio calls, the Rainbow Six parallels are unquestionably strong with Door Kickers. I certainly feel immersed through the chatter and weapons fire. Graphically, the top-down perspective reminds of classic GTA but with Loaded sprites in high-res—functional for the game’s purposes, neither stunning nor inadequate. Though Door Kickers was recently ported to mobile devices, it does not appear that KillHouse games made concessions for multiplatform functionality.
As a bonus, an encouraging sign is the developer’s commitment to add new content. Even since I started this review, three official single scenarios have been added, totaling eighty-four. Combined with a map generator, Door Kickers could potentially provide infinite replay value.
For those who have struggle systems and wish they could cop Rainbow Six: Siege, Door Kickers is more than just an adequate substitute; it is a tactical game worthy of play and praise on its own terms. KillHouse Games has done its homework in terms of researching the qualities of guns such as the P90, the Benelli M4 (Joint Service Combat Shotgun), Tarvor, SAR-21 and more. This research extends to considering factors such as cornering with large weapons and reload speeds. For those looking for a good tactics game, they need not look farther than Door Kickers.
+ Can turn off blood
+ Immersive sound effects
+ Virtually infinite replay value
+ Bountiful customization options
+ No feeling better than a well-executed plan
- Difficulty spikes
- A few minor glitches
- Some missions are trial and error
- AI sometimes better than veteran soldiers