App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Door Kickers finally has its follow up, but it's not exactly the kind of game you'd expect. As opposed to the top-down, squad-based breach and clear simulation of the original, Door Kickers: Action Squad is a retro-themed 2D side-scroller where you control a lone SWAT operative as they take down tangos, rescue hostages, and--of course--kick doors. This new format takes a bit of time to adjust to, but once you do, there's a lot of tense and tactical action waiting for you to enjoy.
Clear the air(ea)
My first impressions of Door Kickers: Action Squad were not positive, and it's because everything about its presentation (even the name!) suggest that it's a run-and-gun action game. Trying to play Action Squad like a side-scrolling shooter is a huge mistake. The controls aren't built for that, and neither is your character.
This is a game about slow, tactical planning that you punctuate with action. If you happen to die, it's likely because you didn't plan well, or were trying to force the controls to do something they aren't setup to do (or perhaps both). The entire game is much more built around leveraging advantages based on the information you have on hand and the tools at your disposal than your reflexes of twitch reaction skills, though those can play a factor from time to time.
Kill em all
Each level in Door Kickers: Action Squad is a unique map filled with bad guys and you have to kill all of them to clear it. Often, there are also hostages you need to rescue, and on some rare occasions there are bombs that need defusing or high-profile targets you need to take into custody alive. Prior to each mission, you select a loadout comprised of a primary weapon, two pieces of special gear, and an ultimate ability, and from there it's up to you to breach and clear until there's no one left standing.
This may sound simple, but even the basic action of shooting takes some tactical considerations. Your gun has a recoil stat that determines how long you can hold the trigger before your start shooting off-target. This is important to manage so you don't accidentally hit hostages or spray errant shots over baddies' heads while they gun you down. You also have a limited set of gear, plus a kind of special meter you will have to manage to restore your health and call in backup support, which becomes crucial in some levels.
As you clear levels in Door Kickers: Action Squad, you earn stars which you can use to unlock new gear. Each mission clear also grants experience that lets you level up your character and improve their stats, not to mention the fact that new sets of levels are gated by how many you've previously beaten. This ensures there's plenty in the game to work toward, and Action Squad is structured in a way to present a wide variety of missions to take on at any given time so you never feel like you're stuck trying to complete any one thing in particular.
This is all great, but there are a couple things about Door Kickers: Action Squad that keep it from being a completely standout experience. The first is that this mobile version completely lacks any form of multiplayer, unlike its PC and console counterparts. In a lot of ways, Action Squad feels tailor-made for co-op and having someone around to watch your back or revive you if you die would make for a much more enjoyable experience. This version's UI also obscures things, like the fact there are multiple character classes you can play as, which is confusing and bad.
The bottom line
Door Kickers: Action Squad feels like a game that should feel tighter and offer controller support, but that's only because the game isn't great at letting you know what it is. If you spend more time with it, it reveals that it's a slower-paced game than it initally seems, and learning to shift your mindset to this more tactical mode is key to enjoying it. This mobile version probably isn't the ideal way to play Action Squad, but there's still plenty enjoyment to be had here nonetheless.