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.

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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.

Our Next Generation Console Demands – Part 1

Hoping for advances in technology is like hoping that tomorrow will come.  While it is a 99% certainty that it will happen, we really don’t know how it will turn out.  We usually hope for tomorrow to be amazing.  It is human nature to desire more and better for the future.  As we get closer to the next generation of gaming, we will be talking about some of our favorite parts of this generation’s games and what we hope to see in the future.

In Game Graphics Vs. Screenshot Graphics

If you have read any of our coverage of Madden 13 and real time physics you will see that it is one of the more important parts of gaming at this point. Players and characters have ‘looked like’ their real-life counterparts for a couple years now. While EA Sports has taken awhile to get more face scans, it is something that will indeed improve for the next generation. However, physics and processing power are going to be more important than something just looking pretty.

Take Battlefield 3 for instance – not only do you see guns and enemies, but you see buildings and vehicles that can easily explode and remind you that some things look cool but they just aren’t ‘super real’ just yet. That is where the physics and actual graphical ‘processing’ are going to be more important than some sort of glorified screenshot that we see even this generation.

PC games aren’t necessarily held back like console games in this way. Well, they aren’t held back ‘as much’… and it is something that PC gamers are always happy to point out to console gamers. Console gamers shouldn’t expect ‘real life’ realism yet. If you take a look at the game from id Games that made everyone see just a glimpse of the graphical future of games – Rage certainly amazed gamers on PC and consoles alike. Even with a bunch of driver problems on PC it is still a great benchmark graphically. The issue XBox 360 users got to see as they opened the game for the first time was the fact that it came on 3 discs. While PS3 owners got to snicker and laugh because they have Blu Ray playback, XBox 360 gamers simply had to enjoy Rage with a couple swaps of the disc.

Other gamers might even recall having to switch discs on their 360 while playing Rockstar’s L.A. Noire. This game, while running on the same engine as Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption pushed a new era of facial structure and movement in games. Never before have you had to interpret whether someone was lying to you based on their facial expressions, but in this case it made the game incredibly innovative even if it was quickly disregarded as a must have title. L.A. Noire still ranks as one of my favorite titles that came out during this generation of consoles because while it was in development for what seems like forever (nearly 7 years) it was still incredibly innovative and risk taking from a graphical and gameplay perspective when it game to interrogating suspects. There is still something to be said for games that take a chance to amaze you and that will never go away.

Even with these amazing achievements in graphics, there is still something to be desired. The PS3 was marketed almost solely on ‘The Cell Processor’ and its amazing 7-Cores. Yes, it was and is an amazing processor, but the funny part of this really goes back to the fact that many developers actually stated that games were easier to develop for the XBox 360 (which had issues with their own processor – RROD). Metal Gear Solid 4 was delayed on numerous occasions and if you pay close attention to Solid Snake during a cinematic scene you will notice that his hair still moves around in little chunks. While details like a character’s hair are something that some people might scoff at, take a look at some of the things people are getting caught up about with Madden Football. (wrong facemasks, helmets and shoestrings, etc.)

Real Time Physics (aka – The Sports Gamer’s Pipe Dream)

Perhaps one of the most famous hits in NFL history is the one that Lawerence Taylor put on Joe Theismann. While this is an extremely gruesome hit (please don’t watch this video if you get queesy) – it is a fine example of something that isn’t in Madden NFL football – real time physics with real time injuries.

Perhaps one of the most desired and denied wishes of gamers is realistic ‘real-time’ physics. This basically means that if a character is moving at a high rate of speed and tackles someone going a different direction you should see a collision that makes you go “oooohhh!”. What we have been seeing instead are animations that are ‘canned’ and play out in an expected fashion almost every time.

Even if you don’t play sports games it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a fighting game or an action game that had better real-time physics. Games like Assassins Creed or Mortal Kombat could become some of the most amazingly technologically advanced console games ever made (from the standpoint of physics). However, where many people want to see this drive improvement is in sports games.

The current generation of consoles has been pushed to the limit with physics processing. Many games look good in this fashion (All Pro Football 2K8) and others look simply ‘overblown’ (Backbreaker). What we are really hoping for is something in-between that will give us true physics in regards to player size, speed and strength (with other such variables). It is our hope that someday we will be able to play a game of Madden, MLB, NHL or NBA 2K and see hits, throws, catches, shots, passes, interactions and injuries that genuinely make us feel like we are watching/playing a real game of football.