"All-Pro Football 2K8"
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Style: One- to four-player sports (Up to eight-player via PlayStation Network or Xbox Live)
Publisher: 2K Sports
Developer: Visual Concepts
Players say that once the whistle blows and the game starts, everything else—the sore ankles, the bad record and even the fear that you'll be arrested for running a dog fighting syndicate out of your house in Virginia—disappears for three hours on a Sunday.
Game Informer magazine recently put on the pads with an early copy of "All-Pro Football 2K8," and we're glad to say that some of our doubts as to how engaging this non-license game could be evaporated quicker than a John Elway pass.
"APF"'s use of more than 240 past NFL players is a very effective way to build your team. To start, you choose two gold, three silver and six bronze-tier players. Some may have special icon abilities (like Mr. 3rd Down, Loose Ball Magnet, etc.) and some may not. Either way, you're building a strong foundation of stars comprised of go-to-guys.
Any football fan worth his salt will recall a good majority of these players, and best of all, they are as we remember them. Otto Graham never knew a facemask that had more than one bar, and The Snake, Ken Stabler, still has the shaggy 'do that makes him look like one of Waylon Jennings' entourage. The rest of your team is filled out with made-up players. You can assign vague attributes to these guys, like choosing whether your cornerbacks, for example, are cover corners, balanced or run-stoppers.
On the field, superstars make themselves known. In one game we lined up as Joe Montana across from The Fridge—girth, neck roll and all. Knowing that he could clog up an interior running play, we quickly called an audible away from him. Whether it's these kinds of tactical decisions or hearing players talk to each other by name over the Field Pass feature, this isn't just a non-license football game, this is football at the highest level played by its greatest stars.
The evolution of "NFL 2K5"'s gameplay serves "APF" well, and improvements are evident from the get-go. Defenses are stout in their execution of zone coverage, quick to break on the ball, and responsive to tip balls and easy interceptions. Players will be able to use the right stick to help them make tackles. If pushed in the right direction, an otherwise out-of-place defender will reach for an arm tackle or try and slow down the runner until a gang tackle can be made. On offense we've witnessed QBs throwing ducks, receiver's one-handed grabs, and even a highlight reel two-foot toe drag at the back of the endzone. The game is still early and needs the normal tweaks and balancing, but it's clear that developer Visual Concepts hasn't just been sitting on its hands during the prolonged off season.
In our time with the game, "APF:'s star power and gameplay strength were enough to stop us from worrying about whether the teams where real. Besides, some of the game's 32 stadiums are pretty cool, such as the Detroit Firebirds' Wayne County Stadium, which features a giant red phoenix. You can assign any stadium to your created team, and there are a number of customization features available. To be clear, these are more about tweaking the details of your uniforms, helmets, and accessories (such as their stripe patterns, color, numerals, etc.) than they are about changing the logos or identity of your team. Still hung up that this isn't the NFL? You won't be for long.
A CAVALCADE OF STARS
When Visual Concepts announced that "All-Pro Football 2K8" featured legendary players from the past, it wasn't kidding. Here are just a few of the more than 240 stars included in the game.
William "Refrigerator" Perry
Dick "Night Train" Lane
For more video game news and reviews, check out the latest issue of Game Informer or visit the magazine's Web site at www.gameinformer.com.
(c) 2007, Game Informer Magazine, published monthly
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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