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Review: All-Pro Football 2K8

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It’s been a long 3yrs since EA took the NFL license from Visual Concepts. I always wondered what the next-gen 2K football game would look like. Would it have the same game play and flair that the other versions had? Would it improve on what they’ve built on all these years? 2K fans can rest easy now. Football has finally returned to the next generation.

apf2k8-screens_0003_layer-22.jpgThere’s been a lot of faithful 2K football fans that are disappointed that there is no NFL license in APF2K8. It may have even drawn some faithful fans over to the Madden camp. Most are happy enough playing NFL 2K5. Microsoft hasn’t put any effort forth to program backwards compatibility for 2K5 and it’s left us pretty much at a loss for 2K football on the 360. In comes 2K games with All Pro Football 2K8. We’ve got updated graphics, fast game play, an awesome season mode and all the legends you could imagine. The missing NFL license doesn’t bother me that much. I don’t watch football on television because I have better things to do. I am however, an NBA fan. If there wasn’t an NBA franchise in NBA 2K7, it would kill the game for me. So I understand how a lot of the 2K NFL fans feel. Don’t let the loss of the NFL franchise take away from the fact that APF2K8 is a ROCK SOLID football game.

APF2K8 is chalk full of features. You can create players and teams, run practice games, make reels, fill your trophy room, play online and even customize your celebrations. The team creation isn’t as intuitive as it used to be. You are taken through a wizard that’s much like the one in NBA 2K7. You must pick 11 legends to start your team and then the rest of the players are randomly generated. I guess this makes the creation somewhat easier, but it would have been nice to have a FULLY customizable team creation tool for the veterans of the 2K series. Once you create your team you can pick a logo, stadium and team colors. There are tons of possibilities when it comes to team colors. You can individually color each aspect of your uniform or pick a base color and globally color the uniform.

apf2k8-screens_0008_layer-17.jpgWhen you create your player, it is much like NBA 2K7. You can tweak stats, outfit and facial construction. Created players and legends now have special abilities you can give them. Each special ability is based on their position and you can choose which ones you like best for your legend. They are passive abilities so there’s nothing you have to do to activate them. Once you have your player and team created, you can play exhibition games or go on to season mode.

Game play wise it seems that they broke the mold of 2K5 to give us an even better game. There’s a new tackle mode that’s been introduced. You can use the right thumbstick to attempt a reach and grab, an aimed tackle or a big hit. It’s nice but I prefer the plain old press X and tackle. Sometimes you reach out at the wrong time and completely miss the ball carrier. It takes practice. Prior to running offensive plays you can pick Hot Routes. This feature allows you to basically do audibles for individual players. You can adjust their route on the fly after you see the defensive line up. You can also send players into motion before the snap. This is valuable when playing against human players who like to manually cover receivers.

While I love the no-huddle offense feature, I hate the fact that the AI abuses it. If the AI is down by a few points with minutes to go, they will use the no-huddle feature over and over again. All the while you continue running the same defense formation. The AI ended up coming back and beating me because of this. So if you are playing against AI, use those timeouts to force them out of the no-huddle loop.

apf2k8-screens_0021_layer-4.jpgGraphically I’d say APF2K8 is an improvement over 2K5. It’s very beautiful to look at in HD. It does seem however, that they put more emphasis on the game play than the graphics this time around, which is a good thing. The uniforms, stadiums and animations all look beautiful. At first I thought the stadiums were over done. They have huge statues of mascots and f-14’s and other icons that represent the home team. When the home team gets a touch down, you’ll see things like f-14’s shooting missiles across the stadiums. After seeing it in action, I kinda look forward to it.

They’ve done other things like added a lot of detail to the field and the players. When it rains, you can literally see the grass turn to mud with each foot impression made. You’ll also see dirt being lifted off the ground by cleats and even moisture clinging to helmets when it rains. The details done to the face animations are incredible. Not only do the legends LOOK exactly like the legends, but their mouths move in sync with their audio. The faces are also more expressive than seen in any other football title to date.

Online play is rock solid as to be expected. This time around however, you can play with your custom teams. This is something I hope carries over to the other sports titles. Another cool feature is the customizable ticker tape. You have the option to turn on tickers for pro and college sports news. So if you’d rather play than watch the game, you can still get the results.pict0049.jpg

I’ve stumbled upon something really awesome for you guys who simply MUST HAVE NFL TEAMS! My friends over at APFHQ.com have found a way to build NFL logos and import them into the game. You must have a memory card and a Datel Transfer Kit to import the logos. They have successfully built the Chicago Bears and will continue to build teams until they have the entire suite of NFL logos and colors available for you to download. They have been working on supporting 2K5 for years. They’ve even updated the rosters and created a “NFL 2K6” update. They are die hard fans of the series and are working hard to make sure it’s as authentic as possible.

pict0050.jpgAPF2K8 marks Visual Concepts entry back into the gridiron game. They’ve done a great job at giving us football the way we’ve always liked it. It can only get better from this point on. In a short 2 years EA’s contract with the NFL will expire and we can only hope and pray that it’s not renewed. I have nothing good or bad to say about Madden 08 because I haven’t played it yet. I do however, hope to see the 2K series return in full. Don’t turn your cheek on this game because of the loss of the license. It’s every bit as good as 2K5 if not better. I’ve been hearing reviews that claim Madden 08 to be the best football game ever made. Well it seems to me that they haven’t yet played All Pro Football 2K8. Welcome back Visual Concepts. We’ve been waiting!

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