Those footballs aren't going to kick themselves
Ah, the glamorous life of an NFL kicker. You get little of the credit when you win, a big chunk of the scorn if you miss the game-winning boot, and girls only ask if you really know Aaron Rodgers. Actually, that's not glamorous at all, but Full Fat Games is doing its part for raising the profile of kickers everywhere with NFL Kicker 13 for iPhone and iPad. And yes, it's pretty much exactly what it sounds like.
Fully licensed by the NFL, NFL Kicker 13 lets you name your rookie kicker and place him (or her!) on any of the NFL teams. Even the Browns. A tutorial instructs you on the fine art of booting the ball, which is accomplished by flicking a finger to send it on the desired trajectory. A faster flick will increase distance, but too fast will likely result in an embarrassing shank.
You can also put some post-kick slice on the ball in a manner that's more Rory McIlroy than David Akers by swiping left or right once the kick is on the way. This helps compensate for windy conditions, which you will definitely face as you progress through the different game modes. And that's pretty much it on the control front, as there's not much involved in being a kicker, after all.
That's not to say it's easy, at least if you want high scores in the In The Zone or Time Attack modes. The former simply asks you to kick field goals in increasingly difficult conditions, with combos for big points possible if you can get the kick to fall within a gold scoring band. You'll get points for any successful kick, but combos are the only way to go for a seven-digit score.
Time Attack gives you a limited time to hit all of the scoring bands from a certain distance and angle. Every band hit adds a second or two to the timer, and clearing them all in succession puts even more time back on the clock. Just like In The Zone, the wind plays more and more havoc as you go.
Because NFL Punter would make even less sense as a standalone game, you also get to show off your punting prowess in Coffin Corner mode. Drawing on the nearly forgotten skill of punting the ball out of bounds inside the 20, you'll try to get the ball to bounce as close as possible to the pylon before bouncing it out of bounds for the most points.
Some of the modes are unavailable to start, but it doesn't take long to unlock them with the experience you gain during each round. NFL Kicker 13 also awards credits, which can be used to upgrade your stadium to earn even more credits. Those can be spent on single-use Boosts to help you in one particular round or to outfit your kicker in any number of alternate or classic NFL uniforms. Achievements are also on board thanks to the game's link with the iOS Game Center.
Full Fat Games puts the NFL license to good use, making the uniforms sharp and the whole interface look pretty slick. The developers obviously have a sense of humor too, since especially nice combos get your kicker to break out some sweet, sweet dance moves. You'll believe a kicker can moonwalk! The soundtrack sounds like it could be from the intro to an old NFL Films show, which is to say it's much too heroic for a kicker.
What NFL Kicker 13 is screaming out for is a little more. The gameplay is fun for a while, but the lack of additional game modes seem like they will hurt long term replay value. It would have been nice to see a season mode where you have to make kicks under pressure, an RPG mode where you try to convince ladies in Seattle that you're actually Russell Wilson, or anything else, really.
I suppose beggars can't be choosers, though, especially when said beggars are kickers. NFL Kicker 13 gives the guys who fans love to abuse and rarely praise their moment in the sun, and that's more than they usually get.
- Simple, easy to learn gameplay makes it actually look like fun to be a kicker. Excellent visuals that make good use of the NFL license. Customization options for your kicker and stadium are pretty cool.
- Simply not much to do once all game modes are unlocked.