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Posted on Oct 18th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (slackur)
Posted under Door Kickers Action Squad


It is interesting when I reflect on action movies; once a perpetual staple of the entertainment diet of my youth, as I got older I wasn't as interested in them as much.  Ditto the buddy-cop genre; I have fun with a good movie but over the last couple of decades I enjoy a video game version much more.  Given my affinity towards co-op gaming in general it is a natural fit, and one of my recently discovered favorites is Door Kickers: Action Squad.





The market now has such a saturation of pixel-graphic style "retro" indie games, it can be overwhelming to investigate what best suits a gamer's tastes.  I found DKAS by ordering the physical copies from Strictly Limited Games after I saw gameplay trailers.  Once it arrived I was pleasantly surprised by how addictive and well-crafted a game it turned out to be!  (It is technically a sequel to the more tactical overhead perspective PC game Door Kickers, but I haven't played that one.)



The only story is that Nowhere City has lots of bad guys, some with hostages, some with bombs, some with bosses, and they all need their doors kicked in by NC's elite SWAT Team.  Said team consists of the Assaulter, the Breacher, the Off-Duty Guy, The Recon, Agent Fergie, and the Shield, who each have their own progress tree and specialty gear.  The game can be played (and is very fun) solo, but it really comes alive in couch or online co-op.



As simple as the graphics style comes across, the animation is superb.  Everything has great attention to detail, from background objects reacting to shots and explosions, to weather and lighting effects.  The music is also excellent with a great 80s vibe that caught the attention of other folks listening while we were playing.

Each character truly feels different, and some are far better for certain missions than others. All six are fun to play and experiment with depending on the level objective.  The controls are tight and they need to be as  the game can be quite challenging.  My only two gripes are minor; one, getting a character off the top of a ladder can be a tad clunky and two, the Switch version has an uncomfortable control mapping compared to the PS4 version, which has button mapping closer to a NES- or SNES-type action game.  Other than that I think everything about DKAS is about perfect for what the game is.

There are over 80 levels, 60 different weapons and gear amongst the characters, over twenty enemy types, an endless mode, and even a zombie mode (my excuse for covering this game in October.)  Each level mixes things up at least a little bit and the combination of variety and required strategy, along with the brisk pacing, makes the whole package very easy to pick up and tough to put down.  This game has split-second shootouts to save hostages, jumps through glass ceilings, slamming on doors to draw away enemies, flash grenades to stun a trigger-happy terrorist, underground bunkers, security doors and elevators, the ability to take cover behind environmental objects, a button mapped to kicking a door or surprising a bad guy, weapons that blast through doors, windows that can be shot through, the ability to call in sniper support, aimed shots, cameras for highlighting enemies, and a wry sense of humor.  (The Off-Duty Guy showing up in his boxers is a nice touch.)

In some ways it reminds me of a 2D arcade-y take on Rainbow Six Siege, or some of the older Tom Clancy co-op experiences.  One bad move and you get dropped quick; even though each character has a life bar and armor, some goons can one-shot with machetes to the back, carry molotov cocktails or bomb vests, or come in with heavy armor and firepower.  Levels rarely last more than a few minutes, can be quickly restarted, and exp is gained for characters even in failed attempts, so playing a tough stage rarely feels too frustrating and experimentation is welcomed.



Door Kickers: Action Squad is my perfect go-to game for the moment, and while I have enjoyed it solo, the co-op makes it one of my favorite games I've played this year.  In the deluge of new hardware and big AAA games, I'm still happy reliving the 80s action hero.

Smiley



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