I’ve not played the original Door Kickers game, but even I know that Door Kickers: Action Squad on PS4 is a big departure. Where the original was a top-down, tactical-shooter that somewhat resembled Miami Vice, Action Squad is a 2D side-scroller with pixel-art graphics. There are still enough guns to keep 2nd Amendment fans happy, and enough bad guys to rival a corporate boardroom, but that’s where the similarities end.
Door Kickers: Action Squad tasks you and a mate, if you have one, with taking on various levels full of bad guys that need to be killed and hostages that need to be saved. It’s as simple as that. It’s old-school in looks and in execution, and I rather like it.
You start out by choosing your character and gear, so there are some very light RPG mechanics. And I mean light. You don’t need to worry about hit-point percentages or if wearing a chicken’s beak around your left foot will increase your chance of obtaining 4% extra damage per party member that was born on the third moon of July. You play the levels, you gain experience by killing bad guys and saving the ladies, and then you use your points to improve your character’s abilities. It’s all very clear and simple. Perfect for a pleb like me, then.
Simple is the main ingredient in Door Kickers: Action squad. The controls are brilliantly responsive and very simple, so much so that you’d be able to pass the pad to just about anybody and they’d be able to figure out the main functions within seconds. Aiming and firing is also simple; you direct your character in the direction of the bad guys, then you press the shoot button. Voila. Blood everywhere. It may be a little too simple for some, given that you can’t actually aim up or down, but I think the aim here is to keep the game accessible. Where the original game was for those hardcore players who relish a challenge, Door Kickers: Action Squad is for those looking for a silly game that they can couch co-op for an hour. And that’s fine. There aren’t enough such games, in my opinion.
Completing the levels isn’t as easy as playing them. Sure, you’ll breeze through the first couple without any problem. You’ll probably save all of the hostages and take home the three-star rating. You’ll feel like you’re the best player this game has ever seen. And then you’ll hit the fifth or sixth level and realise that you’re actually a feeble fool who doesn’t deserve to hold a controller. Or is that just me? Doesn’t matter. I died plenty of times, even though I had my colleague Stuart in tow. He was wrecking faces and forgetting names with his brutal shotgun while I was shooting wildly and praying to a god I don’t believe in. I learned quickly that controlled bursts are better than just holding down the trigger and letting my bullets fly. If you want to maintain any kind of accuracy and not end up shooting those innocent hostages in the head, you’ll manage your firing better than I did.
Levels are non-linear and you can complete them in various ways. You can sweep each floor methodically, or go on a rampage and hope for the best. Some levels are better suited to the former, and other to the latter. Either way, you don’t have to follow a set path, even in co-op. In co-op, your partner can go anywhere on the map and you can, too. There’s a bit of freedom in that respect, and it’s nice not to be tied together. Basically, tactics work if you want them to, but there’s nothing wrong with being reckless.
Instead of having a dedicated aiming system, Door Kickers: Action squad gives its weapons different recoil and firing rates. Once you’ve levelled up a few times you’ll be able to spend those points on upgrades that improve your recoil, meaning you’ll be far more accurate and the hostages will catch fewer stray bullets in their noodles. You can upgrade your health, too, as well as buy new gear. It’s worth going back to previous levels once you’ve gotten yourself some extra goodies to catch those missing three-star ratings; stars are used to get new weapons, after all. The completionist in me really wants to do that, but the careerman in me says I need to maintain a decent sleep and work schedule, so I won’t be getting a Platinum trophy this time around.
I’ve played a fair amount of the game solo, and while it’s definitely doable, there’s loads more fun to be had with a friend. The later levels can be unforgiving in their win conditions, and with enemies getting tougher as you progress, it’s always good to have a helping hand should things go wrong. Your buddy could take one entrance to a room while you take the other. Whether that’s one of you dropping in from above while the other blows the door, stunning a few of the bad guys, or one shielding the other as you both dog pile through the same door. Having a mate is always better. If you’re stabbed to death by a knife-wielding foe, your mate can revive you. That doesn’t happen in single-player, and I missed it greatly.
There are a couple of different game modes to try out in Door Kickers: Action Squad. In addition to the regular mode, there’s a zombie mode, which is essentially the same levels played out with the added threat of zombies, though they do help out by eating the bad guys if you let them. There’s also the Infinity Tower where you can play on randomly generated levels to see how far you can go before you eventually end up in the bin with me. So there’s a good amount of content, and all for a decent price, too.
Door Kickers: Action Squad is a gem. It’s a humorous twist on the original game. It’s a part of the Door Kickers family, but it’s not a brother or a sister; it’s the weird cousin that wears odd shoes and doesn’t give a damn what anybody thinks about it. I like that guy, and I really like this game.
Door Kickers: Action Squad PS4 Review
Overall - Must Buy - 9/10
Door kickers is an absolute smasher of a game if you can get a mate to play with you. The done-to-death “it reminds me of the good old days” has never been more fitting for me, but I won’t say it. I’ll say it reminds me of playing through Halo 3 with my best bud Sam until 6 am in the morning. Once we finished the game we sat on my doorstep and watched the sun rise. We had done the impossible, and now we were real men. Maybe in ten years, I’ll be saying the same thing about Door Kickers: Action Squad.
Nah, I’ll never beat this damn game, but it’s fun trying.
- Simple pick-up-and-play controls and gameplay makes it easy for a mate to jump in for some local co-op.
- Online play is also an option.
- Lots of content across three modes. You’ll be chasing high-scores for a long time.
- Nostalgia-driven graphics that fit the game’s retro-style gameplay.
- You can kick rats to death. I hate rats.
- Fun Fact: Door Kickers: Action Squad is a tiny download coming in at less than 80Mb! It’ll never get deleted!
- A touch inconsistent with performance, with some lag and dropped frames. Oddly, mostly when pressing the jump button.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.
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Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella. (Bronze trophies, that is – he only has one Platinum.)