When EA and the NFL announced an exclusive partnership a few years ago, fans of the series faced a difficult choice: Switch to the rival, Madden, or stop playing football games altogether. Though many made the switch, there were a few holdouts who hoped that some how the 2K series would be back. This year, their perseverance will finally pay off when 2K Sports releases All-Pro Football 2K8.
All-Pro Football is the ultimate in fantasy football experience. Rather than playing on teams with one or two great players, you’ll have a team of them. Over 240 former NFL players have signed on to appear in All-Pro Football; names like Rice, Montana, Elway, Marino and Cunningham will all appear on the same team and are all under your control.
The moment you start up All-Pro Football, you’ll take the role of GM as you build your team from a pool of legendary players. Deciding which players you want on your team is part of the strategy that goes into the game. Each player is designated by a ranking: gold, silver or bronze. When creating your team, you have room for two gold players, three silver and six bronzes. How you choose to use your picks is completely up to you and will set up the type of team you have. If you decide that you want to reunite Jerry Rice and Joe Montana, you can do that; or you can grab Barry Sanders and Fred Biletnikoff and keep your opponent guessing if you’ll take to the air or stay on the ground.
Okay, so you know how to make selections, but how do you choose between Roger Staubach and Johnny Unitas? Rather than use the standard player ratings used in other sports games, All-Pro Football will use an ability system that is based on the player’s on-field strengths and accomplishments. One player may be labeled as a “4th Quarter Comeback QB” while another could be known for his pocket presence. There are several abilities in the game which are spread across all of the players on the field. These abilities will further help to determine what direction you are taking your team and add to the strategy of building a team.
After selecting your group of legends, the rest of your team will be filled with generic players. Rather than just throw you a bunch of guys, you can select what types of players you want by choosing from a list of player tendencies. If you are going for a team built on a deep passing attack, you’ll want players who support that style. This ties a team aspect into the game; even if you have a team consisting of Hall of Famers, their skills won’t mean squat without a strong support group.
After your roster is completed, it is on to creating your team. Although the game features fictional teams, you can create your own team and decide every aspect from logo to hometown to shoelace color. The customization tools are pretty deep and give you enough options to create a team that is uniquely yours. If for some reason you are in a sharing mood, you can share your custom settings with a friend.
Once your team is created, you will play a 16-game regular season, the playoffs and finally a championship game. Online is also available and will let you pit your created team against other player’s teams. All-Pro Football will support tournaments and leagues and feature a sports ticker that will keep you up-to-date on real life sports scores and stories.
Even without the NFL license, it is great to see a studio take a serious approach to a football game. Though you may take some time to adapt to not having named stadiums and teams, the roster of familiar faces should make up for it.