It seems like ancient history, but since the beginnings of football video games, the Football genre has always been dominated by EA’s Madden franchise. It was in the early part of the 21st century that Sega established the 2K label branching off to one of the first and only true challengers to the NFL thrown. In 2005, NFL 2K5 was distinguished by many as being the finest football game ever, especially for its $19.99 price tag. However it was shortly after that, that EA got the exclusive license of the NFL and since then the 2K label has lost any hope of challenging in the football realm, until now. 2K Sports is back in the game again however this time without the NFL license with All-Pro Football 2K8 for the PS3. Does this game have what it takes to take on the big bad Madden? Read our full review to find out!
There have been rumors since the very beginning of the NFL exclusive license with EA that 2K Sports would come out with another football game, one even stronger then their last edition of NFL 2K5. However a few years went by and a lot of people including myself were skeptical on a return. Then out of nowhere, 2K Sports dropped the bomb that they would be releasing the next installment in their football franchise in All-Pro Football 2K8. But can this game possibly recover from the three year absence?
The main premise of this title is to try and do whatever it can to make you not need the NFL license, and to do this they gathered 240 legends of the game of football, ranging from Steve Young, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice (can you see I am a 49er fan?), Barry Sanders, and the like. The range of players to the roster is good, but to be honest there are several of the names on the list that I don’t even recognize or just barely. 2K Sports put these players into three tiers; Gold, Silver and Bronze, and you could see they were running low when it got to the bottom categories and some of these players weren’t what I consider legends. The roster is good for a first effort, but there are so many noticeable missing roster fillers that its hard to overlook.
When you start up the game for the first time you are taken to create your own team, this includes pick your own superstars with an allotted amount from each tier. This is a huge part of the game, it decides what type of team your going to create. Once you have created your roster you then customize the other players on your team by picking what type of offense and defense you want to run. Following that you get to choose from an extremely extensive create a team feature that allows you to customize jersey’s, logos, and team names. The process in all takes a good deal of time, but for the most part is a one time process.
Following this you have a few modes to choose, exhibition, practice, season, and online play. Where is the franchise? There is none. For whatever reason, maybe 2K couldn’t figure out how to incorporate it, but the deepest mode you have in this title is a season mode, which is as basic as they come. To me it seems obvious to have an extensive create-a-player function where you take your superstar through the ranks to compete with the legends of the game, but I guess that is just me. In general, the depth of modes in this title are less than desirable, and to me for the amount of time off the series has had leaves very little room for excuse.
The gameplay itself holds true to the 2K way of football, which is great, however once again I never had the feeling that there was an extensive amount of work done to the mechanics of the game. In a lot of areas, especially passing, the game feels a little behind its time and a bit aged. Also the kicking mechanics in this game are just hideous, there is very little on-screen representation of the kicking, no meter no nothing. You pull back on the analog stick and forward but the timing of this mechanic is very unclear.
In the end, the gameplay of All-Pro Football 2K8 just doesn’t live up to the hype of what you would want from the next 2K football game. The gameplay mechanics feel a bit dated - the modes are lacking, and the overall appeal of this game works at a moderate level.
Although the PS3 has only been out for less then a year, the developers have had plenty of time to work on this game. So once again there is no excuse for the poor visuals found in 2K8, which stem mainly from the character models. When looking at Barry Sanders and Steve Young, my two top picks for my team, I have to say their faces look much more like a PS2 visual rather than the PS3. The animation in the game is relatively good, although there is still some weird clipping issues here in there. In the end, the visuals certainly don’t manage to live up to the PS3 standards.
One thing is for sure - even after three years the formula that 2K Sports uses with their football games is really entertaining. It is much more of a simulation style and yet it allows for just a good pick up and play style atmosphere. This title is especially good online as you do get some interesting match ups with the legends. In fact, I was surprised to see how many defense centric teams there were. In the end, the gameplay is still enjoyable its just unfortunate more wasn’t done to update the series or give it a much needed sense of depth.
There is no denying that even with its flaws, All-Pro Football 2K8 is a good solid football title that has some really interesting concepts. For the first time without the NFL license, there were some good ideas but I do feel there is a long way to go for the franchise to be able to truly compete once again. However if you have been counting the days since the last NFL 2K title then this is still a game worth checking out.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.