Tango Down! Clear! Roger That! Cover Me! That words have been stucked in my head ever since I started digging deep into Killhouse Games top-down tactical game. This top-down tactical shooter game has blown many gamers mind in its PC version, scoring an 82 in Metacritic and has gained a very positive review from most of its reviewee.
Door Kickers is not a new game, this game has been released back in September 2013 at PC, Mac, and Linux. Having been released for almost 2 years, the game that finally comes into iPad and our hands isn't the same game as the first build. Lots of update have been worked on, additional features are added, resulting in a more satisfying and more balance game all around. So Door Kickers is not just a potential game anymore, it's a mature game.
What is Door Kickers?
To summarize it, Door Kickers is somewhere placed between Rainbow Six and Frozen Synapse. Don't know about these two amazing games? I'll save you two google searches then :). Rainbow Six is a tactical first-person shooter games, in which players playing as an operator from the Rainbow team, a counter-terrorist unit. Players will breach inside a house to attack the terrorist. Rainbow Six series, were once released as an iPhone game in 2011, but I can't seem to find them anymore in the AppStore.
On the other hand, Frozen Synapse is a turn-based tactical combat game, in which players plan their moves every turn using the available armies. The goal is to eliminate all the enemies in every turn. Every trooper in player's army has their own shooting range, area of sight, so a really good plan is always required. Once you let the enemy get into your blind spot, you won't have any chance to redeem the unit.
Door Kickers again, lies somewhere between these two amazing games. It is a top-down tactical combat game where you play as the operator of a SWAT unit going in buildings and do a lot of thing.
It has that same top-down take as what Frozen Synapse has, it has that same area of sight, shooting range, and all the tactical planning. Just as stated in their interview, Killhouse Games is a huge fan of Frozen Synapse and turn based games in general.
However, Door Kickers is not a turn-based game. Door Kickers is a real time tactical combat, but, you will be able to pause the ambush anytime you want, in order to plan your unit movement first. Check out this trailer to get what I mean by pause, ambush, pause, plan movement, plan area of sight, shoot the enemies.
After you get ahold on the Door Kickers overview, let's talk more about the gameplay. In short, you will always be ambushing house full of terrorist, be it saving hostages, capturing suspect, saving evidences, defusing bomb, and many other missions.
There are generous amount of missions, about 80 single missions with 6 campaigns, in which each campaign also have their own missions, resulting more than 100 missions available to play. Moreover, you can also create your own level with the level editor feature, creating an almost unlimited challenge for yourself.
The single player missions in Door Kickers work more like a puzzle where you have to do some task with only few soldiers. On the other hand, campaign missions is like a story. In each campaign, there are some missions that will include almost all your soldiers, the scope is much bigger and more difficult than single player missions.
Control is always become the first doubt when hearing a console game being ported into mobile devices. Door Kickers is an exception though, I can assure you that you won't feel like this game is a port version of a console game.
You will be controlling the troops by dragging them to create their walk path. Tapping troops or their walking point will bring out some options, including reload, switch to side-arm, throw some flash bang, and also many other advanced tactical command. So you can actually plan ahead in the pause mode, and really do no micro command but watching your troops beat some terrorists.
You can also hold and tap the troop to setup their area of sight. In this way, while they're walking, they can still adjust their view either to cover the other troop or make sure the situation is clear.
The sound effects, music and voices behind Door Kickers was made by George Vlad from Game Sounds. Killhouse Games has been very kind to stream the music behind Door Kickers at YouTube. You can of course check it here.
Things I Like
I just love the difficulty of the game. I can't recount how many I've repeated the same level just to perfect its score (at the end, I left some level to revisit later because I just can't reach the perfect score). It is that hard,it's addictive.
I also love the ability to free pause anywhere and anytime I want. Well, I always love playing as an Archer in every middle-earth game because I can always control the situation from far range and can always flee whenever I feel the situation is out of my hand. With stopping time, you can check the enemies position for a second, then come hiding again. I know that every player have their own style, which also makes Door Kickers even more awesome because it can adapt with most players playing style.
The touch control also works like a charm in iPad. It seems as if, the console version of Door Kickers is actually designed for a touch screen device. Up to now, I haven't found any control issue while playing the game. Well perhaps this issue also become the reason why Killhouse Games kept Door Kickers as an iPad only version.
While the game is actually as simple as kill all the enemies, I can actually implement a really deep tactical strategy to achieve that requirement. Beside the basic thing like drawing the moving path of each troop, I can also give a strafe command, to ensure troop looking into certain direction while walking.
I can also give hold command to wait and cover other troop by double tapping the troop, double-tap again will continue the troop to walk down the path. I also love the moment before breaching the door. This moment really put me into imagination like commanding a SWAT team in real life. This moment also fully supported with the radio command SFX behind, really love this radio command.
Back to the door breaching, when arrived at the door, I have 4 options available, kick the door, open the door and throw some flashbang, put breaching charge in the door, and last, put the spy camera to peek what's inside. I won't be talking too much about these four options, but I'm really glad these four are inside the game.
Some of the options will change when the door is locked, now I can't just kick the door or throw flashbang. I can choose to lockpick the door or forcefully open the door which will create noisy sound, or if you're using a Breacher class, you can use shotgun to break the door in. All and all, the choice is mine and yours as the command operator, to choose.
The timer, both the timers, are really well implemented. The first timer that I mention is the overall 'real-time' time that you take until you've finished the mission. In real-time your team might not take more than 3 minutes. However, planning the movement is the one that will take more time.
Now, in order to get perfect score, one of the requirement is to finish the mission within certain time. This 'certain time' is the 'real-time' your team take, not the planning time, so take your time really careful if you want to ace the level.
The second timer is the in-game timer, bomb countdown timer and hostage countdown timer. These situations create sense of priority and urgency for me when planning the route and get me really excited with the level. Especially the planning part before breaching into the door where the hostage get his head pointed with a gun.
My last love of Door Kickers is the classes availability. With five different classes available, each with different weapon set (make sure you notice this when you play the game), all five have different ways to be played, giving you tons and tons of tactical possibility. Let me give you just one comparison of two classes, between the most basic Pointman and Shield classes. Both of them can only bring secondary weapon, pistol. However, these two played in a very different way. Pointman needs to be light and full of speed, rushing in and quickly out before anyone shoot them. On the other hand, Shield must go in first and stay there to take some bullet, this unit needs to be slower but full of armor.
I still can continue this review by explaining all the details to you, but I think I'll leave that to your own experience. However, I personally think that all SWAT and tactical genre lover should really love this game. It really just like what Killhouse Games stated, “Rainbow Six planning mode made into a strategy game”.
I have a joyful experience playing Door Kickers and beside Frozen Synapse, I don't think Door Kickers has a competition in this genre. The only thing I'm afraid of, is that I can't put Door Kickers down and won't be able to write in a while.
About Killhouse Games
Killhouse Games is a Bucharest, Romania based indie studio, that consists of three amazing people. Mihai Gosa and Catalin Saitan as the programmers, and Dan Dimitrescu as the game designer.
Founded in late 2012, Killhouse Games believe in building games that matter. Games that leave both the player and the developer fulfilled. Games as an engaging experience that enriches life, not a boring and mindless past-time that wastes time and ruins health.