The Legend and Tragedy of All Pro Football 2K8 – And What Could Have Been

In our office/spare room there is a secondary TV with my XBox 360 hooked up just in case some gaming needs to happen and the PS4/Big TV aren’t available. I had about an hour of free time where I found myself looking at my old 360 games and saw All Pro Football 2K8 shining in it’s nostalgic glory. Having just finished another season of Madden 19 Franchise Mode with the same stale feeling that I keep thinking will go away – I decided to boot up 2K8 for a random game. As I expected, I somehow emerged from this game happy with the 2K8 but annoyed by the current (on-going) situation that is the Madden Monopoly.

The Original ‘Legends Game’ can be had for cheap. You will be amazed with the gameplay and animations that might not even be in Madden this year… or ever.

What a game it was at the time for those of us that had only too recently seen the decline of quality in NFL football games after the Madden monopoly happened in 2004/2005. We will start with some of the basics that Madden didn’t flesh out until years later (if at all).

Double-Team Blocking was something that we had never seen carried out in the way that 2K8 introduced it. Add in reach tackles, kickers slipping, long snaps going off course and even late hits on defense (that would result in a penalty). Also, let’s not forget the interactive players on the sideline and injuries that occurred in real time – and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Sure, the wonky Field Pass and player models were the typical hilarious mess that we especially see in retrospect. “Let’s get out there and crack some heads!” was something that got old pretty fast every game you had to hear (and see) a player say it. That’s also one of the smallest aspects of the game that would have been removed in future iterations.

The best part about All Pro Football was and remains the one thing that can’t be denied – it was real football. The weight and motion of the players when you controlled them from quarterback to linebacker felt real and it still does. The tackles on nearly every play looked like their real-life counterparts – and some of the tackles were downright wonderfully brutal. Add in the running mechanics that would make your jaw drop when Barry Sanders turned a juke into a double spin and was off to the races. Also, the way in which Okoye and Campbell would truck defenders was simply nasty.

All Pro Football 2K8 was ahead of it’s time and basically gave Madden the blueprint for what would eventually destroy sports games in general – using all time great players to build dream teams must have stuck because only three years later Madden 10 introduced Madden Ultimate Team and the rest is micro-transaction history. Say what you will, but ultimate team modes have completely gutted the dreams of many sports gamers that have no desire to play online modes with other people that pour money into their teams or pick exploit plays at every turn – sports gaming has died and gone to a fiery hell reserved for all corporate hacks.

There are two reasons All Pro Football 2K8 failed in terms of sales and as a game. The first reason it failed from a sales perspective was that it didn’t have any of the rights to NFL teams. This was an obvious downer, but it should have been fully expected as EA and the NFL decided to wreck things with the monopoly as mentioned above. The second reason APF 2K8 failed was because it was such a stripped down game to begin with. The options for customizing your team uniforms and building a squad with a limited amount of real players were cool, but hardly worth bragging about as a ‘back of the box feature’.

I believe to this day that had 2K Sports continued their football development after 2K8 with fictional rosters and a full-fledged franchise mode they would have challenged Madden in terms of game quality and eventually surpassed them. If you see what 2K was able to do with the gameplay of NBA 2K it makes a football fan look up to the sky and say ‘Why, God… Why must we only have Madden?’.

As we enter the last five days until Christmas I want to once again share my one gaming wish with the wonderful people at 2K Sports.

Please… I beg you. Bring back 2K Football with the following features.

A fully fictional roster of 32 teams with players of different ages, etc. would be a nice start. Couple that with a franchise mode that can be played for 30+ seasons. Give us an experience for scouting players that involves more depth than pressing an unlock button for three attributes. Give us real football that we can enjoy – with late hits, concussions, broken bones and real time injuries in general. Give us an improved football experience based on the great start that 2K8 had in gameplay (which I can only imagine how great it would be after 10 years of development…).

Release the game on a 2 or 3 year development rotation with fixes and patches for gameplay and exploit issues as you won’t ever have to worry about roster updates.

Please, just give us a sign that you haven’t forgotten about 2K Football fans. We are still out here and we are still waiting for a decent football game.

Madden Ratings System Unveiled

A recent article on FiveThirtyEight.com has helped us understand a bit more about what goes into Madden player ratings.  I wish I could say I am impressed.  Madden is one of the most stale and non-simulation sports games in existence, yet it gets touted as being true to the game.

It has always bothered me that Donny Moore seems to have full power to subjectively up someone’s rating because of one big catch, run or block.  I truly miss 2K Football more and more as I read about Madden and the NFL in general.

Here is the breakdown from FiveThirtyEight –

paine-feature-madden-4

Getting the Shoe Deal In NBA 2K15

One of the more interesting mysteries I have seen in recent sports titles is people trying to figure out how to get the final Jackson Ellis cut-scene on NBA 2K15 ‘My Player’ mode.  All sorts of videos of people saying ‘THIS is the truth and other people are liars.” are just about as helpful as those that are liars.  Without further delay – here are some of the facts surrounding My Player and where he was in his career upon getting the Jackson Ellis scene.

One this is certainly true – playing the games and not simming them is going to be your best bet.  I simmed quite a few games in my first couple seasons and while I say I regret it from the ‘shoe deal’ perspective.  It actually made it so that my player has realistic career averages compared to what I have now in my third full season in the NBA.

What Are The Facts?

First and foremost – I am convinced that maxing out at least one attribute is key.  I don’t know if it was simply some sort of coincidence, but after playing the first 9 games of the 2017-2018 season I finally got earned enough VC to get the final upgrade for jump shooting.

Attributes
My attributes just before/after the final meet up with Jackson Ellis.

I believe you either need to have a single attribute fully upgraded or have used a certain amount of upgrades.

I nearly had a quadruple double in the 10th game of the season.
I nearly had a quadruple double in the 10th game of the season.

The game I got the Jackson Ellis scene from was also a great personal performance where I almost had a quadruple-double.  I don’t believe a Triple-Double or Double-Double count matters so much, but It was my 15th career Triple-Double just in case that does matter.

My Last 10 Games before Jackson Ellis stopped by.
My Last 10 Games before Jackson Ellis stopped by.

I am currently playing 8 minute quarters and using the casual setting.  Does this take away from ‘sim play’?  Sure it does.  However, it also keeps me from playing insanely long games with frustratingly bad teammates and such.  It is just more fun for me.

I did notice that I averaged over 40 points per game and had sporadic Double-Double/Triple-Double performances.

Finally – I had 92 Games Played.  I believe some of these played games are a bit skewed as I certainly started at least 10 games and simmed to the end once they started.  You can look at the actual ‘games played’ by you by going to the Milestones Career Section and scrolling to towards the bottom.  Take a look at the ‘games played’ achievements and you will see how many you have actually played – not simmed.

I hope this has helped you put together a few more ideas about how to get the ‘Wooo!’ scene with Jackson Ellis.  It will take you two more games for him to visit your house and seal the deal.  For me, it was quite awesome as the game after I picked Jordan as my endorsement I got a quadruple double AND the ‘I Got This’ trophy.

Then, I somehow had a more impressive shot a game or two later.

Happy Gaming!

2K Football Announcement Coming? – The E3 Rumor Mill In Full Swing

Every year in late-May and early-June we start hearing buzz about new games that will be or might be unveiled at E3.  (E3 is the Electronic Entertainment Expo held in Los Angeles, CA annually.)  It is much like the time leading up to the NFL Draft where there are so many rumors and baseless suggestions that you don’t know what to believe or who has the ‘inside track’.

2K_Sports_LogoThis year there are a few titles that are supposedly being shown at E3 in hopes that they will capture the next-gen console audience’s hearts and minds.  Some of these titles include Halo 5, Rockstar Games’ Agent and one game that a niche group of sports gamers have been longing for since 2008 – 2K Football.

Every year there is hope injected in the football gaming community that there will finally be some sort of football game released that isn’t made by EA Sports and that isn’t called ‘Madden’.  There have been a few youtube videos with people saying that they have ‘a feeling’ that there will be a new 2K football title unveiled at E3 this year.

It is something that I almost always have high hopes for when it comes this close to football season.  It seems that my hopes (and those of the sim football gaming community) are always dashed by the time E3 is over.  Hopefully the rumor mill will prove to be correct this time around.

That said – there is no official news one way or the other about a 2K Football title as of yet.  If there does happen to be an announcement, it will have to be a far deeper game than All Pro Football 2K8 was back in 2007.  Keep your attention focused towards legitimate news and releases as we get closer to E3.  The rumors will only get more ridiculous between now and then.

Top Needs of Madden Connected Franchise Mode (CFM)

There are all sorts of needs when it comes to Madden from a game-play perspective.  As many of you know by now – I almost exclusively play Offline Madden Franchise Mode.  There are so many aspects of the NFL that keep us interested all year and today we are going to focus on some of the things that Madden (or any other future football game… Are you listening 2K?) needs in Franchise mode.

Benjamin TD

Player Contracts, Morale and Agents 

If you have paid attention to any of the contracts signed by NFL players in the last few years you will see that many of these contracts are not nearly as simple as just throwing out a number and having it accepted or declined.  Madden has always had a problem with making contracts too simplified.  In that regard it has also made Franchise Mode exceedingly easy from a management perspective.  You can always low-ball a player or get someone on the cheap if you know your way around the salary cap.  Here are a few ideas on what would make this a bit more realistic and more challenging as you advance through multiple seasons.

  • Tiered Contracts – We should have the ability to front load or back load contracts for players just like in real life.  (NBA 2K has been doing this for years)
  • Incentive Based – There have been numerous contracts in recent memory laced with performance incentives.  (See Ben Tate’s deal with the Browns for an example).  This could be something that gamers need to focus on as they are building their teams around specific players.  You want that young WR you have made into a superstar to sign an extension?  Make it worth his while with money up front and incentives based on performance or staying healthy.
  • Battling Through Injuries – In this regard I like to see it being somewhat tied to the incentives listed above.  If a player tweaks his hamstring or maybe has a sore shoulder and needs to play a certain % of snaps to earn an incentive.  A good example of this is the contract of Jason Campbell for the Browns in 2013.  He did an admirable job trying to tough it out and play.  When it comes to staying healthy and getting paid to play a certain % of the snaps – you bet that is an important aspect for some players.
  • Morale – Something that never ceases to annoy Madden gamers is the thought that many features have been added and taken away as the wind blows at EA.  Morale was in Madden 2005 and played a large role in realism.  Players in the NFL have serious egos and morale swings almost daily.  In this case, a simple morale bar would be nice to see when it comes to making players happy to be on your team.  In that same breath, it should effect their performance as well.
  • Holdouts – Yet another part of the game that was removed is player holdouts.  This happens quite often and has at times caused many teams to lose important players or show them the money they demand in order to stick around.  This needs to be back in the game.

Another part of Franchise Mode that has been getting better incrementally over the last couple years is the NFL Draft.  As we enter the final week before the NFL Draft (in real life) there are many things that are becoming more apparent when looking at the draft and scouting in Madden.

  • Big Boards – I’m not talking about the main screen where they have thrown up the top players based on the CPU’s programming.  I am talking about as the GM/Coach/Owner making your own Big Board.  This could be as simple as taking a lesson from the NCAA Football team when they made a recruiting board for up to 35 players to recruit.  In this manner it should be expanded quite a bit (maybe to 50-70 players) so you can work your way through the draft like real teams do.
  • Measurables and Grades – I am  sick of the simple scouting method of paying to find exact ratings.  At most there should be grades or maybe a rating range made available through scouting.  When it comes to the combine in real life it is the biggest part of the pre-draft experience.  I want to see 40 times, bench press reps, interview notes, etc.
  • Coach Input – If you have seen the movie Draft Day you will know what I am talking about when I refer to Denis Leary’s portrayal of the Browns coach that basically tells the GM he is quitting if he takes a certain player or doesn’t help him fill the missing pieces in the draft to fit his system.  This is very important needs to have a greater presence in the game (perhaps Coach Morale as well?)
  • Scouts – This is something that is desperately needed in Madden for the sake of realism.  It would be great to not only streamline the process but also to add some variation to how players are rated based on what qualities that scouts have.

The Best of The Worst – Teams to Turn Around In Sports Gaming

Now that we are well over half-way through the NFL season and the NBA season has already put some fans in the mind of ‘maybe next year’ there are quite a few teams to choose from when it comes to wanting a challenge or simply some sort of revival story to build a team around in a sports game.

Madden 13 –

Kansas City – Romeo Crennel has made Brady Quinn the starting QB in KC.  Can you take this team of terribad from laughing stock to the playoffs?  You will have plenty of youth to build around such as Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe and even Glenn Dorsey.  Your first goal should be finding a decent QB to help this team achieve greatness.

Cleveland – The Browns are a perennial sad sack.  While this is a team that has consistently under-performed there are multiple ways for you to take Cleveland to the next level.  There are a lot of great young players on this team, but you will need to make a quick decision on whether to keep Brandon Weeden or move on in one of the upcoming drafts.

Arizona – Once again, you are getting ready to take a team that needs a QB answer (and fast)… see a theme here?  The Cardinals have a couple decent players to build around, but you will have to take your time and figure out how to answer some tough questions – including whether or not you want to keep Larry Fitzgerald around if you don’t have a QB to throw him the ball.  That could result in a lot of decent trade offers if you decide to put him on the trade  block as well.  While it may sound crazy, it is something to consider.

New York Jets – The Jets are a mess.  One of the best things that could happen to this team is to get rid of their QBs… all of them.  Then make a few decisions about how you want to build this franchise from the ground up.  There are some players like Stephen Hill at WR that could be nice projects to build around, but then you have players like Darrelle Revis, Santonio Holmes and Shonn Greene that could be moved for draft picks so that you can build a team made to last rather than a team built to make headlines for publicity stunts (see Tim Tebow).

Jacksonville – More than just a team that has no real talent, they are constantly a threat to be moved to Los Angeles.  Since EA Tiburon took the option to move your team to another city out of the game (they enjoy taking features away) you have to make moves and stay in Jacksonville to make this team better.  If you win three games in your first season you can consider it a somewhat successful year.  Get a new QB, trade away MJD and do your best to find some talent for this team that seems to be the biggest laughing stock of the NFL.

Carolina – The Panthers are one of the few teams on this list that have a QB in Cam Newton.  On the other hand, they have a lot of other places on their team that need vast improvement.  While they have a great MLB in Luke Kuechly they are pretty much limited to having just those players to build around.  Make use of the trade block and build this team around future picks that you can get from trading away players like DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Jonathan Stewart, Chris Gamble and any other player you can do without.

Dallas – Talk about a team that makes you scratch your head.  The Cowboys are consistently picked to be a playoff team but in the end it is their egotistical owner that really makes the worst decisions for the future of this team.  Make a new story for the Cowboys that will allow them to make smart personnel decisions.  This means getting rid of the most overrated QB in the NFL – Tony Romo.  Also, you may want to consider getting what you can for DeMarcus Ware.

Oakland – The first step in this team growing was the death of the Crypt Keeper, Al Davis.  The next step is building this franchise to be more than glorified Speed Ratings.  Make a decision on how you want to build the offense and defense – that means possibly taking a chance on Terrelle Pryor or going in a totally new direction.  Then start building the defense into something to be feared like it was in the 1970s.

 

NBA 2K13 –

Cleveland – The Cavs are a young team that has a cornerstone in Kyrie Irving but that isn’t enough as they need to work on getting this talent to be more than potential prospects.  They need to grow up fast and that could mean a lot of work for you in Association Mode.

Washington – The Wizards are laughingly bad.  Sure, John Wall is amazing – but really they are flatout awful.  Get ready to trade a lot of your best players like Okafor just to get some prospects.

Detroit – Only a few years ago the Pistons were powerful and feared.  Now they are hilarious to watch on the court.  They look more like a team getting ready to face the Globetrotters than an NBA team at times.  This is a team built around unwanted journeymen and bad trades.  It will take you a few seasons to turn them around – but it will be worth it.

Sacramento – Considering the fact that the Maloofs are looking to move this team to Las Vegas, you can tell that they are in need for some improvement.  The Kings were once one of the best teams in the west, but now they are often forgotten when people talk about NBA teams.  I forget they exist half of the time.  I call them the Wizards of the west.

New Orleans – This team got the equivalent of a bailout from the NBA.  Chris Paul said bye-bye and now they are being built around the unibrow of Anthony Davis.  New Orleans needs more than yet another Kentucky product with an IQ less than his scoring average to turn this team around.

Orlando – Dwight Howard is gone.  This move was similar to that of LeBron James leaving Cleveland.  How will you bring the magic back to Orlando?

 

MLB 12 –

Cleveland – Talk about a team with a chance to make big strides with a new manager.  Terry Francona is the new skipper and you will have to make a few moves to bring some pitching and power to this lineup.

Houston – Do something… anything.  Even if it means creating a steroid infused Roger Clemens to come back and pitch this team to at least 20 wins.  It is a bad time to be an Astros fan, but now that they are moving to the American League it could make for a fun journey… albeit – a long and tough one.

Colorado – They made an incredible run a few years ago, but this team needs pitching in the worst way.  Take it upon yourself to manage the thin air and find a way to make Denver cheer for a team not called the Broncos.

Miami – They just fired Ozzie Guillen and now they are selling off their players.  This is a team that will take a lot of patience to build into more than a one-year wonder.  Do it the right way and you will have something to be proud of in the end.

Pittsburgh – This team was on the cusp of making the playoffs in 2012.  Take the power in the steel city and bring this team back to their past glory.  They have a great ballpark and with players like McCutchen to build around it could be a lot of fun.

Oakland – One of my favorite movies of the last few years was Moneyball.  Billy Beane took a chance in using stats and fantasy baseball type of projections to build his team.  Take it to the next step and help them win it all.

Seattle – My favorite player of all-time is Ken Griffey Jr.  When I saw him go back to Seattle to finish his career it was bitter-sweet.  I would love to see this team be more than just a great pitcher like Felix Henandez – they need better players and that starts with you making the moves to bring the talent back to Seattle.

NHL 13 –

Who cares?  The NHL season is dead and the sport of hockey on its way out of almost every person’s consciousness.

Pick any team you want – but the best of the worst would be the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Sim Sports Gaming Vs. Casual Sports Gaming (Remember The Titans)

We have been focusing on Madden 13 and football gaming quite a bit over the last few months.  One of our more recent articles was about the complete subjectivity in what makes someone a “Sim” sports gamer.  After considering my own personal views and then looking at my own advise to the NTTV community (…have a good time and play the game however the hell you want to…) I was left to wonder what the other people within the sports gaming community thought about this rather trivial but somehow vital prescription for how games should play and be played.

The ultimate showdown between the Casual Sports Gamer and The ‘Sim’ Nazi… Where do you stand?

it was at that point that I came across this post on operationsports.com from community member, Big FN Deal

…I will suggest this again, for all the good it will likely do. We are all aware that the game is not tuned for optimal realism, it is tuned for a “fun”/realism balance. So they should release two separate optional tuner sets, one “balanced” for casual Madden play, the other for the “hardcore” tuned for optimal realism. …” (click the link for the full post)

What made my mind explode was the mention of the word ‘FUN’. In case you don’t remember what that is; it was that thing you used to do when you were younger and playing games that made you laugh and enjoy the moment because you were just having a good time.  You wanted to smile your way through whatever happened and breath in that fresh air of innocence.

Then something happened… you can’t pin-point it, but chances are good that it happened when you started playing high school sports and the coaches started screaming at you and you thought every moment was live or die.  You stopped wanting to have fun and just wanted raw, unadulterated, anger inducing competition.  You stopped smiling.  You stopped playing the game for fun.  It became a chore to even go home and relax with a game of Madden football because there is NO WAY someone can rocket catch in real life!

The Definitive Movie Reference

This clip can be viewed from a two sports gamer perspectives/comparisons…

1- Casual Gamers That Play For Fun (The Players) VS. Sim Gamers That Play Strictly For Realism (Coach Boone)

or

2- Madden Fanboys (The Players) VS. 2K Fanboys (Coach Boone)

Hopefully you are laughing at this point, because you are supposed to be… if you are angry, that is okay too.  Just remember to think back to when you used to have fun.  Once upon a time when there was no such thing as a ‘patch’ for the 100-Yard pass in Tecmo Super Bowl.