by Bryson Hile
reviewed on PC
KICKING DOORS AND TAKING NAMES
Breaking down a door and not knowing what lies on the other side gives me a rush of emotions. First I feel nervous, not knowing what threat will greet me once I have breached. I’m then surprised as a room full of thugs with guns and machetes engage my presence. Finally, I get the rush of excitement and satisfaction as I gun them down to save the hostages. Door Kickers: Action Squad is a side scrolling action game I found myself losing track of time with even though the shallow customization shortens the fun.
KICK, SHOOT, SAVE
The premise of Door Kickers: Action Squad is simple: break down doors, eliminate the bad guys and save the hostages. Levels are comprised of several rooms which may be revealed to the character or not. Levels are surprisingly different throughout each chapter of the game. Early levels reveal every room to you while later levels are mainly comprised of dark rooms keeping what is inside a secret. Not knowing what's in the room until I kicked the door down kept the game at a high intensity level while also keeping my interest high.
Shooting bad guys is extremely gratifying as bullets hit their target causing blood splatter and enemies crying out to warn others. Enemy variety is great throughout the game as each type has weaknesses and strengths I attempted to exploit when I could. Some levels even managed to throw in a crazy boss-like enemy to challenge me. When saving hostages, they are normally low enough so bullets won’t find their way into them, but that isn’t always the case. That said, I had to be strategic in where and how I shot. This made for some interesting experiences when breaching rooms that held, I don't know what.
Saving hostages isn’t the only kind of mission throughout the game though. Defusing bombs, eliminating all enemies and arresting a specific person are just a few level types within chapters. Each of these types of missions present new challenge that I found exciting and kept the game fresh. For example, bomb defusing levels gave me a time limit. As the bomb counted down, I would have to eliminate enemies to find it and then finally defuse it. The tenseness in these types of levels is the highest because you are always running against the clock.
LOCK AND LOAD
Door Kickers: Action Squad is full of variety when it comes to levels, enemies and gameplay, but it lacks in the customization of character. Before each game, you prep your squad member which can be selected from several members such as assaulter, breacher and recon. Each of these characters are equipped with different weapons and abilities. However, when it comes to their gear, variety is lacking. Two gear slots are permitted with one changing depending on the character you choose.
For example, if I select the shield squad member then one of my gear slots will change accordingly. Within that custom gear slot I was only give the choice of three shields. I wanted more options as stats for some overlapped and didn’t feel different. My other gear slot is always for grenades or breaching charges. Within both of these gear slots, I felt the depth of variety was lacking. I only ever found myself using flash grenades for the single never changing gear slot.
Along with the lack of gear variety, came the lack of ultimates. Ultimates are granted when a bar is filled up by killing enemies and saving hostages. At the end of the bar, is an ultimate you can use. The default ultimate, sniper shot, is really good and I found myself using it in a sticky situation. However, there was only one other ultimate available which depended on the character I selected. Regardless of the shallow customization, the game still provided a great leveling up system which I found myself using constantly. Every level up grants skill points you can use to upgrade health, equipment or abilities. This system was very simple yet elegant in its granting of rewards.
WATCH MY SIX
Action Squad also supports local and online co-op so that you and a friend can party up and kick ass. This creates a unique dynamic rather than just playing solo. With a partner, you are able to create new tactics and deal more damage than a single person would. A great combo to try out is the shield and assaulter. The shield can block incoming bullet damage while the assaulter can stand behind them to let off a volley of gunfire. These options in gameplay made it feel exciting and fresh throughout. I never found a dull moment in Door Kickers regardless of the shallow customization.
Tons of variety, co-op play, never dull gameplay