The Average Gamer

Indie Rock: Door Kickers

Door Kickers - House
I am scared of the police! I don’t think that I have much reason to be because I am unlikely to be racially profiled and I only do minor drug crimes, but aaa! They are people who could put me in a jail! Or shoot me! I don’t think that I’d enjoy either one of these things!

It’s impossible for me to ignore that fear while playing Door Kickers. The time with it is spent thinking of two disparate things. Yes this is a very interesting tactical game that meshes real-time strategy with easily accessed pause-planning, but also it’s a fairly conservative view of the abilities of police in tactical raids. I’m always suspicious of that, reading dozens of news reports about botched drug busts taking place at the wrong houses, innocent people being shot.

While playing Door Kickers I’m allowing myself to go along with the theme and the mechanics, but I’m unsettled by how neat the player interaction is with the NPCs, the certainty each one of my characters has when facing either an armed combatant, an un-armed assistant/arrestable felony target or a hostage. Everyone trying to kill you does so with no remorse and you fire back in turn, everyone who should stay alive is assured safety and everyone else is probably all right too. There’s no collateral damage. There’s no accidents. There’s no unwarranted weapon discharge at a harmless and frightened family dog. It feels like this just being a video game has made the content lack some important context.

You’re police. You control police as they tactically decide how to enter buildings. It’s a lot like Monaco, the world filling in with colour as your police-friends have view of the map, in both games justifying this as the characters moving from a simple tactical blueprint to a full understanding of the actual environment. You’re taking down gangs or drug dealers or something. They’re bad people and they need to be shot to death without a fair day in court.

Door Kickers - StreetBefore the level starts you’re able to program in exactly what your cops will do. Busting down doors with a kick or a lockpick or some explosive chargers, shooting everyone with guns they see until being allowed to move further on into the building. You’re allowed to break away from this plan at any time and re-program, or even just wing it entirely with no plan and try to create some tactics on the fly.

I love how this feels, plotting out a fully successful raid where you decide your plan of action and just let it unfurl without any alterations or team casualties, or equally storming a stronghold with no idea what you’re doing and still coming out successfull. I don’t entirely love the inputs, dragging a node out from one location to another can result in PC Plod jerking around randomly trying to stick to your path. I also dislike trying to lock perspective to ensure your character strafes rather than attempts to contantly look forward. It’s entirely possible to do, just a bit more fiddly than I’d like.

Whenever your police-pals see an enemy combatant they’ll shoot them until either one is dead. You want to avoid your policeys dying if at all possible. The game slowly and without much prompting teaches you to set aside units to cover exits and ensure you aren’t being snuck up on, while also managing a strike team going room to room and mopping up any assailants.

Door Kickers - StatsYou can equip raiders with different armour and guns for different roles, decreasing their maneuverability to increase defence and attack. I like this risk-reward idea, managing their safety over their ability to get in and out of a situation as quick as possible. In theory a good team manages all of this and has units of varying quality. My team? I don’t want any of them to die. They’re all lumbering around in massive protective suits with Fuck-Off Guns in tow.

Door Kickers is at once kind of all right and also troubling. I like playing it, I like not thinking too hard about it too. Maybe that’s more difficult for you than me.