Game Review: Door Kickers

Since I’ve been in the Army, there has always been a special fascination with urban warfare, or Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT). Infantrymen love doing MOUT. MOUT, as opposed to some other infanftry maneuvers, is aggressive, violent, and fun. There’s a science to it, involving lines and angles that you don’t find (as prominently) in other battle drills. I’ve always had a suspicion that part of the fun of MOUT is the fact that it’s usually not as physically exhausting as humping a rucksack in the woods for miles and shooting at shadows in the trees. But conduct a house-to-house clearing operation in any of the Army’s numerous “MOUT Villages” and I guarentee you will find panting, drenched-in-sweat, happy infantrymen at ENDEX. MOUT is a sprint; an explosion of adrenaline and muscle, whereas those other battle drills are more of a marathon, a slow, painful sapping of energy over time.

When I first came across the trailer for KillHouse Games’ Door Kickers, I was intrigued. The game, put simply, is Battle Drill 6 (Enter and Clear a Room/Building). It looked like a graphically enhanced version of what I’ve seen in infantry manuals for years – and fun!

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I haven’t been a big PC gamer (or in this case, Mac) since I was in high school. It’s been too hard to keep up with the technology and I’ve always preferred consoles and handhelds. Door Kickers runs well on my old 2008 Macbook though. The game is pretty simple in design, putting you in charge of a growing squad of SWAT team characters whose task is to clear buildings and areas of enemies. The crux of the game is planning out just how you are going to enter and clear, given the level layout and a known number of enemy (although in unknown locations). This is accomplished by either pre-planning routes for your guys and then letting them execute or in real time, clicking and dragging them where you want (the enemy also moves when you move).

I haven’t spent much time with the game yet, but it is dangerously addictive. As someone who has done a good deal of MOUT both in training and deployed, it feels realistic and captures the challenges of getting the angles right, freezing in the “fatal funnel” and making the tough choice between the path of least resistance versus the immediate threat. At first go, I couldn’t help but think about how this could be used as a training tool for junior leaders, setting up a room or series of rooms and then asking them to demonstrate how they would go about clearing it – and being able to see the results in real time.

The game features a campaign mode and mission editor. There’s also a feature to replay the last level (as an observer) and to export the video. Unfortunately, that feature isn’t currently available for Mac, so you won’t be able to see my master room-clearing skills. The developers seem determined to keep the game fresh, having just released an update that includes a new campaign. The game features multiple weapons, different characters, and multiple scenarios (to include hostage rescue). It’s a simple premise that’s packed with detail. I’m enjoying it.

All that said, this game (for me) is an absolute must on mobile. Right now it is available for Mac/PC/Linux, but it is no-brainer port for iOS and Android. I’m actually a bit worried about how much time I am going to spend dumping into this once it gets an iOS port, because it is the perfect game to attack in the moments inbetween things, as missions can last as short as 15 seconds (if planned correctly).

It’s cool to see a game get some of the finer points of CQB down in a way that feels realistic and still fun, just like MOUT tends to be – in training, at least.

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