Many of us long to become a real-life National Football League kicker, but only a few can wear those tight pants with style. The rest of us will have to be satisfied with playing NFL Kicker 13.
Since iOS devices respond poorly to being kicked, developer Full Fat Productions has opted to make this a flicking game. It’s an area they’re familiar with, having made flick versions of golf, soccer, and NFL quarterbacking.
In this version, you score points by flicking/ kicking a football through goalposts. The game has three variants, but the ‘In the Zone’ mode is the one that shows up on the leaderboards. The rules are straightforward: kick the field goal.
The area between the uprights is divided into five zones. If you send the ball through the golden flashing zone, you increase your combo meter and score more points. Any other zone resets your combo meter to 1, and if you miss the uprights you give up one of three lives.
Laces out, Dan!
Every few kicks, the wind gets stronger and you move farther back. The game gets progressively harder, but you can guide the ball in flight with aftertouch or improve your odds with one of five boosts than can be purchased with in-game currency. You earn a little bit of currency after each game, and you can buy more through in-app purchases.
The other two modes use similar mechanics but test different skills. Coffin Corner asks you to punt and challenges you by giving you exactly ten tries to maximize your score. Time Attack forces you to make quick, accurate kicks by setting a one-minute time limit and awarding extra points and time by hitting different zones between the uprights in order. They’re entertaining changes of pace from the main game.
Both the flicking experience and the NFL experience are excellent. The controls are responsive and intuitive, so you have a lot of control over the ball. Your kicker is customizable, looks great in the current NFL uniforms, and has a surprisingly deep library of animations and reactions to his own awesome kicking skills. There’s even a ticker that’ll keep you up to date with current NFL news.
Put some sparkle on it.
That said, there are some issues with the scoring. The combo multiplier has a huge effect on your score, and it’s hard to keep that multiplier going after the first few kicks. Once you’ve mastered the basic skills, you’ll quickly reach a point where most of your points get scored at the beginning of the game. Once you miss a kick, your most productive strategy is likely to be throwing away the rest of your lives and trying to lengthen your scoring streak in the next game. That’s not exactly in the Morten Andersen spirit.
In-game currency is also a problem. There are some fun things to buy, such as boosts, new uniforms, and upgrades to your stadium. Most items cost thousands of credits, though, and you earn only a few hundred credits each game. You’ll have to grind a lot or pay a lot to get to all the goodies, and in most cases it’s just not worth the effort or cost.
The emphasis on in-app purchases is a little annoying, but the game itself is fun enough to overcome the drawbacks. If we were hired to serve as refs for this game– and given the current lockout, that might just happen– we’d shoot our arms in the air and call, ‘It’s good!’