While there are countless examples out there of gritty military sims that aim to place you squarely in the firing line, Doorkickers: Action Squad is more in the vein of 80’s action movies; all fast paced, fire first-ask questions later action – and it’s all the better for it.
The crux of the gameplay sees you moving from room to room, breaching and entering, killing all enemies in tow and rescuing hostages. Easier said than done mind, as the enemies all have various weapons and abilities to fend you off. It’s all about preparation; is your gun reloaded? Do you have enough health to withstand a few hits? Is there a hostage right behind the door that you may accidentality kill in the line of fire? Once that door opens, there’s no going back. Despite the retro styled 2D pixel art visuals, D:AS still manages to get across the tension of going into a room blind. That is, until you start fighting. Conflicts are over in a matter of seconds, a hail of gunfire exchanged as you try not to hurt any innocents. Afterwards, it’s a case of freeing hostages and moving on to the next room to do it all again. The pace is rarely slows mind. Levels are brisk, flowing nicely from room to room and rarely truly giving you much downtime. Later levels see enemies coming after you as well, so you’ll need to have eyes in the back of your head. It’s not all kicking doors either; you can jump in through windows, use handily placed lifts and stairs, or even drop through skylights to catch the foes off guard.
Starting off, you’ll need to pick a class of character. Each has their own style of play, and difficulty, from balls out attack to a more measured (but still over the top) approach. This is dictated by the weapons they have access to, as well as skills. The Breacher, for example, has his difficulty labelled as ‘LOL’, a nod to the fact that his shotgun is way overpowered, rinsing through rooms full of enemies in a single blast. But it’s just as easy to kill innocents along the way, so you’ll need to be careful. My favourite ended up being Agent Fergie, who is labelled as the hardest to play – but is clearly to best suited to tough situations. As you clear stages, you’ll gain XP as well as stars. XP is used to upgrade abilities, either across the whole team, or each individual agent. Stars unlock new weapons or gear to use – thankfully, these are shared across the team too.
Each area is broken up into 12 missions ranging from rescuing all hostages, to arresting the gang boss, diffusing bombs or simply killing all enemies. Gaining the full 3 stars per mission requires some quick thinking (and trigger fingers), but never did things feel too overwhelming. The gameplay is so much fun that even when I failed a level I was keen to jump straight back in. Again, depending on your character, you can approach areas in different ways if you feel one isn’t working. Should you fancy an extra challenge though, there’s also a zombie mode (of course) that adds in the extra element of… well, zombies. These appear via portals around the standard levels, killing enemies, hostages and, of course, you with out prejudice. All progress carries is counted regardless of mode you choose to play, which is great.
You can also play all of this in co-op, which I’d highly recommend. Even my illustrious wife got right into this, breaching and clearing like a pro in no time. It allows for new tactics and approaches, such as using the Shield agent to open doors, while the second player hides behind them for protection. There’s no friendly fire, so as soon as that door opens, both of you can unleash everything you’ve got!
Perhaps the only real downside to things is that the gameplay never really evolves beyond what the very first stage offers up. While the level designs are great, there’s not much that you’ll see in level 30 that wasn’t there in one of the earlier stages – only more of it. Handily, the core loop is a lot of fun so I never found myself getting bored, but it may put some people off.
Doorkickers: Action Squad is a great little action title that has fun with a concept that is often the remit of more serious shooters. The fast paced, fluid controls allow for complete control of the action, the challenge is just right and there’s a serious ‘one more go’ feel to the whole affair. Some may be put off by the lack of evolution to the mechanics, but when you’re having this much fun to begin with, I don’t see that being a problem for many.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.