First Impressions - Door Kickers 2
I have never bought a game as quickly as I bought Door Kickers 2. Every gamer has one game that they consider to be absolutely perfect, and for me, that game is the original Door Kickers. When the game launched in 2014, I immediately fell in love with it’s combination of real time strategy, short levels and visceral depiction of modern urban combat. Although I haven’t put as many hours into it as I have certain other games, the dozens of hours that I have played have been some of the most enjoyable in my gaming career. Needless to say, when the sequel to my beloved police-em-up got announced a few years ago, I was excited. After spending the better part of the past week playing through the Early Access alpha of the sequel, then, I can say that my hype was extremely well-placed.
Just like in the original Door Kickers game, the core gameplay of Door Kickers 2 is simple. At the most basic level, it’s a top-down pause-and-play strategy game, somewhat in the same vein as the recent Partisans 1941. Each level puts you in command of a special forces squad on the outside of a compound, where you need to issue commands to tell your team how to make entry while the game is paused. Then you unpause the game, watch the breach unfold in real time, and re-pause to issue another set of commands telling your commandos how to clear out the enemy stronghold. You then repeat this process until the compound is clear, then you do the same thing on the next level and so on and so on.
In addition to managing this, before each level starts, you also need to equip your soldiers with the right tools for the job. Unlike in the original police-based Door Kickers, Door Kickers 2 puts you in control of a special forces squad in the Middle East, and as such, choosing your weapons is of the utmost importance. You have access to a ton of toys, ranging from grenade launcher-laden M4 assault rifles to medium machine guns and wall-breaching explosives, and it’s imperative that you choose the proper combination of all of these things if you want to succeed.
Between this and the core gameplay, Door Kickers 2 is a ton of fun. It’s stupidly satisfying to put together the perfect combination of soldiers, then issue just the right set of commands for them to succeed in-mission without taking any losses. Although it can take a bit of trial and error if you want each mission to go off without a hitch, the game is never overly punishing, and before long you’ll develop a formula that allows you to get the max ranking on each one of the alpha’s 30-odd missions. Thanks to some stupidly slick visuals and audio, it’s also always a treat to watch your soldiers breach buildings and clear out bad guys, even if your team ends up getting wiped out.
This core gameplay is only improved by the limited handful of improvements that Door Kickers 2 makes on its predecessor. The biggest change, besides the shift from being about a SWAT team’s missions to being about special forces raids, comes in the form of environmental destruction. Although it’s still somewhat limited in the game’s current state, in Door Kickers 2, you can breach most walls with high explosives or grenade launchers if you don’t want to enter rooms through their doors. You’ll need to be cautious that you don’t kill civilians with the blasts, but the ability to level certain buildings is certainly cool and it adds another layer of depth on what is already a great strategy game.
Outside of this, though, the main ways in which Door Kickers 2 improves on the first game are in all the ways that all sequels should improve on their original games. You can customise your soldier’s weapons with optics and ammunition types, you can change your troop’s routes mid-movement and there are more varied levels than in the first game. None of these things reinvent the series’ wheel, but considering just how sturdy that wheel was to begin with, that’s far from a bad thing, and it’s something that can only get better as the game develops throughout Early Access.
There’s also a co-op mode in the game, which is interesting, if a tad barebones. On some of Door Kickers 2’s larger levels, you can find yourself in control of up to 8 soldiers on huge maps, which can be a bit much to manage by yourself. With co-op, one person takes control of half of these troops, which makes it a lot easier to get the maximum rating on these levels, and it works well enough. There’s no text chat or way to search for specific missions though, so you can end up getting into a game where you have awful ping or are unable to communicate with the other player. Still, it’s a cool feature that will likely add a lot to the game when there’s more development put into it.
Really, my only gripe with Door Kickers 2 is that there’s not as much content as I’d like. This is hardly the game’s fault, as it’s still in alpha and the developers clearly put a lot of time into making the core gameplay perfect, but it’s still worth considering if you’re looking to pick the game up right now. At the time of writing there’s about five hours worth of missions to play through, a handful of weapons to choose from and a solid level editor, although there’s no way to share the levels you create easily. As mentioned previously, everything that is here is fantastic, but there isn’t much to keep you around after you play through it all in a few afternoons.
However, this isn’t that big of a problem because of how great the game is. Door Kickers 2 is the ideal sequel: it keeps the perfect gameplay from the original Door Kickers game, adds some new features, a few tertiary elements and some more levels. Although some may find the lack of content to be annoying, for anyone who’s interested in playing the best strategy game to come out since the original game’s launch, there’s really no reason not to start kicking doors in this game immediately.
Door Kickers 2 is currently in Early Access. Check back on Jump Dash Roll for the full review sometime next year!
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