All Pro Football 2K8 review

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Buy your copy from Amazon.com All Prof Football 2K8 (2007) starstarstarno starno star Publisher: 2K Games
Category: Sports
Available for: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Buy from Amazon.com

“Hey kid, c’mere. Ya say yer sick and tired of the ‘Madden’ franchise monopolizing the football video game experience when it comes to da NFL teams? Yeah, I hear ya, kid. Ever since EA got their hands on that license exclusively, the good old gridiron on yer fave console has pretty much bit the dust. But lemme tell ya, kid. I gots somethin’ here that might make yer eyes tingle. It’s ‘All-Pro Football 2K8.’ Ya don’t get to be any ‘real’ NFL teams or play in the real stadiums, but ya do get to assemble a team of real NFL vets, kid. That means Johnny Unitas, Ickey Woods, Dan Marino, hell, even O.J. Simpson, kid. 240 classic guys to pick from in all. Even Dick Butkus, kid. We’re talkin’ classy. So, ya wanna buy it or not? It’s really good.”

Stop right there. Man, on paper, this game sounded like it was going to be pure gold. Any break from the monotony of “Madden” in the gaming world would be welcome relief, even if it meant only getting to play as NFL vets on fictional teams. But what looked good on paper translates about as good as the yearly “Madden” entry in execution. What good is getting to play as some classic NFL dudes when the overall experience falters? Ah, it’s as if 2K Games decided to only meet us halfway on this one.

First off, let’s discuss the graphics. This game is on the 360, right? Well then what’s with all the godawful PS2-like jaggies all over the football field? The sidelines are literally riddled with haphazard lines from stem to stern. And if you happen to be playing in Washington, D.C., look out! The Washington Monument in the background is so jagged it looks like it’s made of giant steps. Then there’s collision detection on the sidelines. Did I just see the coach completely turn ghost-like and allow the running back standing behind him to completely walk through him over and over? Yeesh. And don’t get me started on how the players look; 2K Sports apparently couldn’t scan the faces of the players, so they were all recreated by hand. Roger Staubach looks more like a homely woman, and even O.J. looks more beaten up and crapped out than when “Time” magazine featured him on the front cover after being arrested.

If you’re going to shell out 60 bucks for a game, it had better deliver somewhere. Sadly, this one fails to step up in the gameplay department as well. Is anyone else sick of using the right thumbstick to kick the ball? Maybe it’s just this game, but it seems like moving the stick forward to execute the kicking fails more often than not. Time and again my all-star kicker would completely pussyfoot the pigskin, and it wasn’t for lack of trying on my end. It seems like the game’s code wants to give no leeway in this area, and you have to be as spot-on as possible to have a good kick. At least in “Madden” I can get it down near the end zone nearly every time. Here, I’m lucky if it gets half-assed near the 30 or 35 yard line.

Passing the ball also took a short while to get used to. You really have to hold that button down to actually pass the damn thing. Otherwise, you’ll just be doing pump fakes over and over, allowing your classic QB to get sacked time and again. Oh, what fun that is. Even when you make the completion, there’s something lacking somewhere, and it just doesn’t feel solid. There’s no real sense of accomplishment. But that goes for the running game as well. All the players and actions don’t feel rooted to the ground, giving this weird, floaty feeling to the whole game.

There’s no franchise mode, and the season mode is your standard 16 games with playoffs, though no Pro Bowl. Once you assemble your team at the beginning of the game, that’s basically it. Seeing how this game has to make do with “what it has,” you would think 2K Sports would have thrown in something to give it a little more meat overall, but instead you have a skeletal one-player experience, with a decent online game that allows multiple players to be part of the same team. It’s just not enough, though.

But then, “Madden” just isn’t enough year after year, either. It would be nice if we could turn back the clock and stop EA from having scored those exclusive NFL rights. Gamers obviously want variety, and the best thing about having competition out there is that it often makes everyone else strive to have the best game on the shelves. “Madden” is able to skate by year after year with updated rosters and little else because it has no competition. So until those rights are up for grabs again, or whatnot, gamers are going to be stuck with “other” football games like the “Blitz” franchise or “All-Pro Football.” Blah. What is most sad, though, is that even when the other developers don’t have the exclusive rights, they can’t come up with anything better than what’s already available. Go figure.

~Jason Thompson