All-Pro Football 2K8 Hands-On

The long wait is finally over: We go hands-on with the return of 2K Sports' football franchise.

There was a time a few years back when we thought we'd never write the following phrase: 2K football is back. After releasing the excellent NFL 2K5, then losing the NFL license to EA Sports, it wasn't always clear if 2K would ever make it back to the sport with which it made its name. In January, the return was official with the announcement of All-Pro Football 2K8, a game that would bring the 2K football series into the next generation of game consoles while simultaneously looking back at some of the greatest players to ever play the sport. Today, we got the first look at what All-Pro Football 2K8 is all about and can safely report that it will be a console football experience unlike any you've played before.

You've heard the names of the 240 former NFL players that will be playable in APF 2K8; names like Montana, Marino, Elway, Rice, Sanders, Payton, Biletnikoff, and so many more. And if you've ever wondered how a team made up of that kind of talent would play, APF 2K8 is the game for you. That's because the moment you fire up the game for the first time, you'll be building your own personal dream team of football legends. Throughout the rest of the modes in APF 2K8, you'll then be testing that team (and all of its permutations) against the other legends found in the game.

2K Sports is set to return to the gridiron with All-Pro Football 2K8.

So in a game full of legendary talent, how do you distinguish one player from another? How does APF 2K8 qualify the differences between top-tier runners like Earl Campbell and Roger Craig? Or between linebacking legends Derrick Thomas and Nick Bouniconti? In fact, the game does so in a couple of different ways. The first method involves splitting players up into three different tiers, indicated in the game by either gold, silver, or bronze. To give you an idea of how the talent breaks down, consider how the game separates the quarterbacks along these three tiers.

Gold: Dan Marino, Joe Montana, John Elway, Johnny Unitas, Otto Graham, Roger Staubach, Sammy Baugh, Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Warren Moon

Silver: Archie Manning, Bart Starr, Joe Theismann, Ken Stabler, Len Dawson, Randall Cunningham

Bronze: Andre Ware, Bernie Kosar, Bill Wade, Bobby Herbert, Bubby Brister, Dave Krieg, Greg Landy, Jeff Hostetler, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Hart, Jim Zorn, John Brodie, Ken O'Brien, Lynn Dickey, Mark Rypien, Neil O'Donnel, Steve Bartkowski, Steve Grogan, Tommy Kramar

When putting your team together, you'll have room on your roster for two gold, three silver, and six bronze-tier players. How you mix up the players on your team by position is completely up to you, which is where part of the fun and the strategy in APF 2K8 comes into play. There's nothing to stop you from spending your two gold picks on Walter Payton and Barry Sanders, lining the pair up in your backfield on every play, as well as driving your opponent nuts trying to figure which Hall of Famer is going to get the ball next. Or you can load up with Montana and Jerry Rice as your gold picks, then grab a few more silver-tier receivers like Drew Pearson, Herman Moore, or Irving Fryar to give your opponent's secondary a run for its money. 2K Sports producers told us that one popular strategy among QA testers is to actually spend a silver or bronze pick on a kicker like Jan Stenerud or Al Del Greco because you never know when that legendary leg will mean the difference between winning and losing.

Few football fans people are going to argue that field generals like Marino and Elway aren't gold-tier talent, but that doesn't mean they played anything like one another in the NFL. This brings us to the second method 2K is using to differentiate players from one another. Forget arbitrary attribute ratings; the team behind APF 2K8 is looking to define players by what they did on the field game in and game out. To do so, they've used a "special abilities" system that better defines how a player will play on the field. For example, Dan Marino has special abilities like "pocket presence," "quick release," "4th quarter comeback," and "laser arm," while the speedier Elway's special abilities include "cadence," "scrambler," "speed burner," and "rocket arm" among others. All of these different special abilities--of which there are more than 80 spread across all players and positions in the game--will bear out differently once the game begins. For example, the "fourth quarter comeback" ability will give QB's a boost to all abilities once the game enters its fourth and final act.

Football legends look and feel the part once the game gets going.

Once you've got your star players chosen, you'll fill out the rest of your lineup with generic players, though you'll still have some control over what kind of players you get by choosing their tendencies. Each position will have three settings to choose from; you can set receivers to focus on deep threat, a balanced approach, or possession; offensive linemen can be set to pass block, balanced, or run block. How you focus your generic players' abilities will depend on the stars you've chosen for your roster and how you plan to run your game. For example, if you're running Barry and Sweetness in the backfield, you darn well better make sure your O-line is focused on run blocking.

With your roster worked out, it's time to complete your team by diving into APF 2K8's deep customization features. You can select the city and name of your team from a huge list of available choices. You can also tweak practically every aspect of your logo, uniform, helmet, and accessories. From adding designs like stars, claws, or lighting bolts to the sidewalls of your jersey to giving your team logo an entirely new color palette, how you set up your team's look is completely up to you. It isn't entirely accurate to call it as flexible a tool as the paint/vinyls tools in a game like Forza Motorsport 2, but there's enough variety so that your team will look almost nothing like your buddy's, even if you're both using the same team logo. The game will include about 100 different logo and team packages. If you find a package that works really well together, you can generate a code that you can share with your friends so that they'll be able to use your same scheme. When you add the ability to create players from scratch to that, you've got a deep football game that everyone can make their own.

Customization starts by selecting your team of football pros...

It's important to note that all aspects of your team, from the stars that comprise your talented core to the color of the stripes on your shoes, can be edited at any time, even during the game's single-player season mode. Once you've created a team, it will replace one of the preset teams in the 24-team fictional APF 2K8 league. From there, you will play a 16-game regular season, then follow that up with a standard playoff schedule, culminating in a championship game. You'll also have the option to take your game online, where you can pit your dream team against another player's idea of the perfect football team, complete with the kind of online features you've come to expect from 2K Sports games: VIP team and tendency tracking; tournament and league support; and a new sports ticker that will help you keep track of real-life sports scores and stories while you're playing the game.

Once in the game, you're immediately struck by the size and detail of the fictional stadiums, as well as the number of characters on the field. The sidelines, especially, have tons of action going on that really add life to the surroundings. Player models are sometimes startlingly recognizable--such as Jerry Rice and John Elway--while others, like Brian Bosworth, are at least serviceable representations. The base player models will be familiar to longtime 2K football fans, with long, lean players and an upright running animation that felt instantly familiar. That said, there are some signature animations in the game, such as Roger Craig's high-knee'd running style and Walter Payton's scissor kick. Other visual touches that we noticed were improved were weather effects (such as rain drops bouncing off player helmets); weather looks to have a major impact on players too. During the opening of one game in a heavy downpour, we watched the poor kicker fall on his butt as soon as he made his kick off.

In terms of new mechanics, the game is boasting an improved kick meter that will require you to push forward with the right stick in time with the motion of the kicker's foot, as well as an intriguing new reach feature that will help you make tackles. To enable it, you simply push the right stick right, left, or forward, which will cause your controlled player to stick out a hand in the same direction and help you bring down a player that might otherwise get away. It's a great way to fill up holes that a quarterback might try to sneak through or to chase down a player who's running away from you in the open field (that's a horse collar tackle, but unlike in the No Fun League, it's legal in APF 2K8). You'll also be able to take advantage of your stars in the playbook by choosing plays that are centered around the best players on your team.

... then continues on to choosing team colors and logos.

One of the best things we experienced with the game wasn't what we saw but what we heard: namely the voices of Dan Stevens and Peter O'Keefe, the excellent broadcast duo that has been the voice of the 2K football series since it's inception on the Dreamcast. The two sound as great as always and have brought a ton of new dialogue to their virtual broadcasts.

In all, All-Pro Football 2K8 is serious about taking an entirely new approach to football games. The lack of the NFL license won't result in a lurid, Blitz-style game full of snapping limbs and rampant drug use. Instead, the developers at 2K are focusing on making a game that leaves it up to the legends that fill out the game's roster. There's so much more to learn about the game before its release in a scant few weeks, so stay tuned. In the meantime, hit us up with questions in our official APF 2K8 forum.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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226 comments
Incrediblyreal1
Incrediblyreal1

I am a football fan period. I will be getting this and Madden. My eyes are def. on this one though. I just wish Bo Jackson was in this which I doubt.

LS07
LS07

There had better be a lot more quarterbacks than what they list above because they're missing some of the best.

jamesrojao
jamesrojao

Going to the store and getting it today screw madden

slobodaquentin
slobodaquentin

im so excited for this game i got my preorder down so now i need to wait eh its so hard

trystkl1826
trystkl1826

I'm definitely excited about this game. I like that the game can be completely customized. Everything will be taylored as you see fit. Awesome. As far as graphics go, they're not too bad. My understanding of how the men look is that the depiction of the players is at the ages where they were at the top of their game. Anyhoo, I'm anxious to play.

kennyjb00777
kennyjb00777

I'm still not sold on the graphics. The video and screen shots don't look sharp enough. I hope it looks better than advertised. With all that said, my reservation has already been made. 2ksports for life

maaly81
maaly81

looks good to me--I think the special features will set it apart from madden. give it another two years, and it will take over the madden spot. just a matter of time.

TreFacTor
TreFacTor

@ Soul search11... I stated the same thing in my post, anyone who has xbox live and has seen the trailer, will have to agree also... the graphics are reminiscent of BLITZ... the animations appear to be straight from 2k5, and i swear that isn't an accurate depiciton of Barry Sanders in the comercial either. I'm almost ready to call "Shinannigans" on Visual Concepts and say that all they did was deleted any current NFL player, team, stadium graphics and put in the hall of fame roster. the team editor even seems nastalgic... if I see a red devil uni, then I'm almost certain that's what they did, as a matter of fact, I'm not wasting my money on this one at all, I already have it... it's 2k5

DouglasBuffone
DouglasBuffone

I think I am going to snub EA and pick up this game instead!

s0njas0n
s0njas0n

i need to see a review on this game, football games have been going down the hole and i want a decent one!

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

I don't play football games anymore but if there is a football game that I would play, this would be the one. Back in the late 90's was my favorite period of football. This game looks like it has a lot of the greats from that time.

LSX_Suisyde
LSX_Suisyde

can't wait...seems much better than madden 07

JBBJR
JBBJR

If you had the $$$$, all you folks that are griping about EA, you would have done the same thing. To say you wouldnt would be a bold face lie. Why are all the haters so bitter. Madden and 2K* will both have their strong points. Get a life...choose one or both if you are me and enjoy

soulsearch11
soulsearch11

Does it concern anyone else that this game's animation looks extremely dated? Circa 2k4/2k5. I mean, I recognize half of those animations from 3 years ago. And if they got the same announcing crew, Im sure they have just rehashed the commentary too. Im still probably going to get it tho. Madden has just been wholly inexcuseable on xbox 360 to me. To the extent that when my Madden '07 disc got scratched I didnt even bother buying a used replacement. And its not because Im cheap, as I have bought 3 or maybe 4 brand new NBA 2k7's thus far, each time one scratches. Truthfully, Madden had gotten inexcuseable long before xbox 360 but on a New Gen machine, I expected WAAAYYY better. I havent even seen incremental improvements in Madden in roughly 5 years.

MWM5225
MWM5225

i cant wait till July 16. 4 the past 3 years I've had to stick 2 madden n it hasn't improved much on the 360. i hope this gets madden off their ass n makes them create a good game

juliusIII
juliusIII

Ah yes, cone vision, the gimmick from Madden 06. That invention that lets Peyton Manning see the entire field while Michael Vick can only see whats directly in front of him. DAMN I HATED THE VISION CONE!!! Anyway, smoov, you got a point. ESPN 2K5 whooped Madden, and Madden acted like little babies, blocked 2K from the football world, and then pulled a Carlos Mencia, by taking the cell shading, and the presentation. So now, Madden might actually have to put out a good game(God forbid) just to survive in a direct competition with All Pro. Im not gonna argue which game will be better, I'll just leave that to you CQ.

Smoov_B
Smoov_B

The idea of getting to play with football legends is cool but really I'm not too concerned about who I play with. Most of my favorite team players have moved on to other teams or retired. I'll really be interested to see how the controls stack up against Madden. Sounds like EA is trying to do some new things and if they actually deliver (longshot, I know) I think their gameplay will be superior. I've never played a 2K sports game outside of hockey but it's well know that their controls are usually better. It'll be interesting to see which franchise plays better.

m0rg7
m0rg7

All I have to say is "cone vision" - what is it? ROFL

m0rg7
m0rg7

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

TreFacTor
TreFacTor

I've been a long time 2k football fan, but after seeing the trailer, I'm sadly dissappointed. I hate to say it, but Madden has the graphical edge, (this looks like an xbox 1 title) and will probably have better playbooks on both sides of the ball. This may not be a "Blitz" type of game, but it sure does sound like it's going the arcade route instead of sim. I'll be wearing my arm band in respect of the fallen 2k football series. There's no way I will fork over $60 bucks for this game, and they won't be able to sell it for $20 like 2k5. (sobs with tears in eyes)

marcod1
marcod1

Goodye outside world. Nice to know ya !!

broncofancrazy
broncofancrazy

People, people, people.... you forget that this is the first game of its kind and I'm sure there will be many to come. Rome was not built in a day, and neither will this game series. It will take some time to get it just right, as Madden has improved each year (some can argue about that), but anyways. This game is going to be great and I hope it is going to be better than Madden.

brooksg79
brooksg79

Longevitiy, are you serious? This game has 240 legends. The reason why there is only a season mode and not a franchise mode is so that every season you play, you are going to have different team. One season you may win the championship with Barry Sanders and Elway. Next season you may win the championship with Montana and Payton. Every year, you are going to have a different team. Try playing every legend in this game and then lets see if "this game seems to lack longevitiy".

ManiacCop2
ManiacCop2

It sounds like this game's got a lot going for it, but what are you supposed to do after your single season is over? This game seems to lack longevitiy.

TallicaFan2005
TallicaFan2005

I'd rather play a football game with made up players and a good franchise mode. I don't want to play with legends, I want to see young talent become superstars on my team, and win Super Bowl after Super Bowl. I don't have a next gen console, but I'm going to have to get Madden for the PC from now on.

coreyq
coreyq

-Despacio- your were right in the eariler comments you made, but also consider that in the next year or two 2k should be able to make a 2k9 or 10 game considering that the license for that season will be up soon. I just hope no bidding will be in play at the time because EA would risk a whole lot to keep Madden going. Looking at what 2k did in this first deal, (backing out) EA stood out boldy and put big money up. 2k must have consider that EA has a bigger fan base and backed out,also EA lobbied this deal with the nfl before the actual buy out. This will still be a really great game for me and other fans of the series though!

cheezlarson
cheezlarson

I think the people working on this game should have "user" created teams that resemble the NFL teams player per player. The only thing is this game doesn't have 52 players per team, or even 32 teams. I guess you would just delete a division from the AFC and the NFC based on your preference.

atticusg47
atticusg47

And just to note. EA won't respond EA dosen't have to respond, they have the power, the money, and the license. Just think about how far other genres have come, and then think about how madden has been the same **** for 10 years. EA won't actually attempt to make a good game instead of another copy as long as people keep buying their product.

atticusg47
atticusg47

Its a shame because this game dosen't even have a chance. I'm amazed that EA had the balls to even release the last few years of madden. theyve been so awful i cant even describe it. Are they serious? 06 and 07 for the 360? Are they really trying to sell that plastic piece of waste to the world? Yet no matter what these idiots will buy it and plaster a fake smile on their face because it says MADDEN on it. Its a never ending cycle, EA puts a few new players in last years madden and puts a new year on it and calles it new. Even the godamn Madden 08 theme for 360 is really one picture thats zoomed in to make it look slightly different, How cheap is that? EA how low can you go?

chuckwaters1
chuckwaters1

No franchise mode along with no NFL license really hurts this game. It might be fun for a pick up and play with friends from time to time, but outside of that............eh.

dandy4
dandy4

can i get a hell yah?

Bigshock85
Bigshock85

I stopped liking the 2K football series around the time it came to xbox/ps2. I only really enjoyed it on dreamcast. I think I'll check this one out.

PC_JOE_9
PC_JOE_9

Hopefully, maybe this'll convince the NFL to give the license to 2K, cause madden '08 is probably going to do much worse, maybe even in terms of sales.

-Despacio-
-Despacio-

@ apalazu The lack of a franchise mode has been known for a while, and it did come as a bit of a surprise to a lot of 2K fans. BUT, there are two reason for this according to 2K. The first is that despite the assumption this game has been in development for three years, it really has only been in development for nine months. The second is that the devs claim they really did not know how to approach a franchise when you involve legends and a bunch of generic players. They have also said this issue is something they'll address next year (Assuming there is a next year). BUT, this game is coming with a very in depth online mode with tournaments and online leagues. The online leagues go beyond online in the game and includes management and league/stat tracking on the web. If 2K5 is any indication, you'll have your own team web page, etc. So no franchise, but there is a great online league mode.

apalazu
apalazu

After seeing the review i get the impression there is no dyanasty mode here where you can draft new players at the end of the season. I guess after you finish a season you simply start over with a different team. What do you guys think?

-Despacio-
-Despacio-

ESPN NFL 2K5 sold for $20 and released a month early because the simple fact was that Madden fans refused to try anything else. So how do you get stubborn fans to try the competition? $20. The NFL 2K series often matched or outscored Madden on most major gaming sites, and yet it sales were lackluster next to Madden. 2K made a desperation move withe the $20 price tag, and you know what, it worked. More people than ever tried out a superior series that year. Whose to say what the next years sales would have been. As for APF 2K8, of course it wont comes close to outselling Madden, EA made sure of that by locking up every known league license exclusively. But the again, it doesn't have to, I mean it's not directly competing since it's not an NFL game. My hope is just that it sells enough to justify a 2K9, because god knows the Madden series has grown stale without competition.

Greatwasabi
Greatwasabi

Hey DazzaMutabe.... Do you ONLY have Wii? Because this only comes out for PS3 and 360

smoov22
smoov22

Football has been resurrected! 2K8 looks to be the game of the summer. I'm just hoping that EA doesn't get any ideas and try to sign the legends to exclusive deals next year! If I'm not mistaken, EA has 2 more years remaining on the exclusivity deal with the NFL. Finally we get a good opportunity to play some good football again. I'm pretty sure that the commentary will be awesome. We can now have halftime highlights and post game commentary. The countdown begins. Hopefully there are some people who are willing to start some good online leagues.

mikekare79
mikekare79

I'll buy both. I prefer 2K sports, but to play the cowboys I have to have Madden, otherwise it would just be this game. Better player control and more fun with 2K Sports. We'll see how Madden answers...

Nifty_Shark
Nifty_Shark

Well I don't want to spend more than $60 on football games this year and after seeing what all these football games offer I'm going to go with Madden. The whole legends thing just doesn't appeal to me that much.

Tking1293
Tking1293

This looks like a great football game. Finally, the chance to helm a team with John Unitas.

DazzaMbutabe
DazzaMbutabe

I have always bee na Madden fan but the Ability to play with Barry Sanders, Walter Payton, Elway which happen to be some of my Fav players of all time has alot of allure. I feel people that love football as much as I do and have been watching and following for a very long time will want to play as their all time Favs and Graphics aren't the most important thing in a game I bought a Wii because I wanted a system that would offer me good game play not fancy looks just because Madden looks better doesn't mean it will be a better game. I'm gonna get both because i love Madden but it looks like 2K will be a great game.

dannyabal85
dannyabal85

I have a feeling this will be a good game but wont be bought by a lot of people.

rdo
rdo

sounds good. i would have bought it anyway just to suport the anti ea companies. boycott ea.

jweb24
jweb24

The game looks like it will compete with Madden but Madden will only outsell 2k based on its longevity not because it's better. I've been buying both games since they started (and will continue to buy both) . Both have good and bad points and I personally don't care who outsells who because I'm not getting the money anyway. I like BOTH Madden and 2k series for different reasons., and when I tire of both of them I'll play NCAA football. The game you choose shouldn't matter as long as you enjoy playing it.. By the way, to say that 2k5 only sold because of a 19.99 price tag and not quality is just STUPID and insulting the intelligence of TRUE FOOTBALL FANS. PLAY THE GAME YOU ENJOY the most and STOP being an idiot about 2 very good football simulation series.

Vision187nyc
Vision187nyc

Hey crazylegmark, pay attention to details you say that the o-line got off and looked like the d-line wasnt up to par with the o-line, its because of the settings, its on pro, so you know thats a easy level so everything is going to be wide open at most. This game is hot my big thing is i hope it has fairplay, he talks about strategy so hopefully no 4 and outs, should be played like real football 3 and out , punt or fg. If it doesnt have it maybe it'll will be harder to do those things unlike madden. See you guys online gamertag VoDka718DtO NyC.