Check Out Time is a series of articles in which I talk about games I’m excited about. Here is where I take off my editorial and critical hat to a degree, and just blather on about why I think things are cool. The games I talk about here may not always be the best games in the world, but they’ll always be something I think you should probably Check Out.
When I was a young gamer, one of the first games I really fell in love with was Rainbow Six on the Nintendo 64. How strange to think that I was playing one of the venerable PC greats on Nintendo’s little box, but that game is really what formed my deep and long lasting love for ordering little digital troopers around, for drawing up intricate and well made plans, and watching them all fall apart at the pull of a trigger. Door Kickers very competently brings that love for careful planning and controlled chaos into the modern era, delivering a highly accessible and elegantly designed tactical simulation.
Door Kickers follows the typical SWAT Team formula by granting you a small squad of highly trained CQB troopers. Before the action starts, you can decide what kit to gear your men with and where they make their initial breach. There’s a large variety of equipment on offer here, from your typical flashbangs and MP5’s, to riot shields and tasers. You then send your band of merry peacekeepers on the march on a top down battlefield that brings to mind satellite imagery and building plans. Controls are extremely simple: Left click on a trooper and drag out a path to get him walking the line. Right click and drag on any point in the line to have him strafe and keep looking in that direction as he moves. The game typically proceeds in real time, but with the simple slap of the space bar you can freeze the action and plan out your moves. These simple controls let you easily manage movement and field of fire, so you can make sure that your troopers cover their angles and cover each other as a team.
And that simplicity is key to Door Kicker’s success. Games like Rainbow Six and Frozen Synapse have a whole host of fiddly controls for dictating how your troops move and attack. Door Kickers lets you decide where to put people and when, and lets the AI handle the rest. This might sound like a terrifying proposal, but the AI behind both your troopers actions and the enemy AI are just about the most impressive I’ve seen.
Enemy AI behave very believably. If they hear gunfire or commotion they’ll come searching carefully. They’ll hole up and wait for your troopers to walk into the line of fire. They’ll move around and try to get the jump on you from behind. You really need to make sure that all your angles are covered at all times.
Door Kickers is on Steam Early Access, and is currently in Beta. But don’t be apprehensive of the increasingly controversial ‘Early Access’ moniker: The game is well developed enough to have fun with it now, and the devs have had done a great job at consistently putting out stable and substantial updates. The recent beta release gives players a host of unlock systems, turning the game into much more of a campaign like experience as you manage a roster of officers over a series of missions. The full release will include a more fully fleshed out and connected campaign, and a set of mapmaking tools so that Door Kickers worldwide can craft their own tactical deathtraps and share them on Steam Workshop. The developer Killhouse Games, and their fantastic little tactics-em-up definitely deserve some of your attention, so go and check out Door Kickers!