by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
So that's what that stands for...
Everyone knows how ruthless and deadly SWAT teams are but you have to remember that that T stands for ‘Tactics’. Tactics is what Door Kickers is all about. Forget new consoles, let 2013 be remembered as the year that titles simply described what you’d be doing in the game. See: Divekick, Fist Puncher, The Swapper. Door Kickers is in Early Access on Steam right now, so I burst in to see how it was shaping up.
It’s a top down strategy game where you take control of a crack team tasked with eliminating hostiles, saving hostages, or defusing bombs. Events take place in real time but you can pause the action at any moment to set up your next move. It features a great waypointing system where you can tell each team member where to go and which direction to be facing when they do it. Right clicking a door brings up a context sensitive menu. You can throw flash bang grenades through normal doors, peek through them with a spy camera, set a breaching charge, or knock it down with a good old fashioned kick.
No time for mourning
Locked doors have to be either picked or knocked down manually with an axe - a noisy and time consuming affair. You can set up orders that execute on your command, allowing you to create sequential events. Setting up an encounter so that you breach a location from multiple angles at the same time never gets old. After lengthy, careful planning, seeing everything come together at lightning speed is great. Of course, most of the time it goes wrong and your team goes down under fire. You can restart the mission but it is possible to complete the mission with a reduced team. Whoever dies is dead forever in brutal XCOM fashion and they’ll be unceremoniously replaced a couple of missions later.
You even have to make decisions before you deploy your squad. Each of your guys can be either a Pointman with a pistol, an Assault with a rifle, a Breacher with a shotgun, or a Stealth with a silenced weapon. There’s a whole arsenal of different weapons to choose from too, so you can kit out your team however you see fit. Each mission has different deployment options, for example, some missions only allow two team members while others allow up to four. Some have a single point of entry while others can have several.
Never ending variety
Door Kickers features the same cool line of sight system we’ve been seeing from games like Monaco and Teleglitch. You’ll be constantly checking every corner for lurking terrorists and cursing yourself every time you enter a room without using the spy camera first. Some maps have the terrorists execute prisoners the moment they see you, making stealth all the more important. In general, the artificial intelligence functions pretty well, with enemies rushing towards suspicious sounds but not too recklessly. If they know they have a defensible position behind cover, then they won’t stray too far.
There’s a mission editor where you can alter existing maps. The controls in this mode are pretty obtuse right now, with different coloured lines and boxes going all over the screen but hopefully it will be more streamlined in the final version. There’s also a mission generator which is hoped to be able to produce completely random maps to play based on a certain ruleset. If this works out as planned it could provide potentially infinite different maps to play in the future.
Even as it is, Door Kickers is a rather interesting puzzle/strategy game. It’s a nice twist on a format which has clearly been heavily influenced by XCOM. I had a good time playing this early version and I hope the final product expands and improves upon it further.