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Is APF 2K8 worth it, or are you better off waiting for Madden?

You take the snap and look up. A quick check to your first receiver, a glance at your second, and before you can release the ball you are picking chucks of turf out of your helmet.

Like to drop back, scramble for half a minute, toss one up through the clouds, over the sun, and back down into the hands of your money receiver who always seems to be open? Eh, well then maybe this game isn’t for you, but if you want to learn the game of football and are willing to take your lumps along the way in doing so then read on.

When you first crack open the game, you MAY see a bright light shine down from the heavens … it’s quick though, so pay close attention. Start up the game and you are greeted by the 2k Sports All-Pro Football Logo. Once you press the button to continue you will notice that before you can really do anything at all you must first first create a team.

CREATE TEAM – SELECT ALL PROS
The team create option is loaded with customization and can be a lot of fun. First things first, you need to fill your roster of eleven pros. You will notice that you have three tiers of skill. You are allowed two gold level players, three silver level players, and six bronze for a total of eleven. Take your time here and browse them all thoroughly. If you are careful and do your research you can find some great value in the bronze and silver tiers.

If you don’t want to pick the pros for yourself there is a button that allows the computer to randomly generate them for you. Once your pros are all set the rest of your team will be filled out with random players by position and based on the type of criteria you set. For example you can set your receivers to be balanced, speed, or possession receivers.

purple army guy - COD4 contestWe were a little disappointed at first with the limitations set when it came to loading up on all-pros. With so many great gold level players it would have been nice if 2K allowed for a few more on each team, maybe two for each side of the ball? Now, we say “at first” for a reason, and that is because once you start playing with your team and get familiar with what they can and can not do, you get over this pretty quickly. That said, it still would have been nice to have an option that could turn the games “handcuffs” off allowing a bunch of friends to get together and conduct an off line draft to fill out their online league rosters.

One last thing to note here is that there are no numeric ratings for players, instead the game focuses on special abilities called out in the form of icons located in the players bio such as rocket arm, 4th quarter comeback, soft hands, and speed burst. Additionally, only the pro players have bio cards, the computer generated teammates do not.

All of this may sound a bit confusing at first, but step back for a minute and ask yourself this … in real life how do teammates familiarize themselves with each other and get on the “same page”? Thats right Allen, “we are talking about practice”. How effective is my QB’s rocket arm? Can my reciever catch the deep ball? Will my O-line be able to block a killer pass rush? The best, and most realistic way, to get answers to these questions is to hit up practice mode (which we will get into later) early and often.

CREATE TEAM – TEAM DETAILS
Once your team is filled it is time to pick a logo, team name, location, and design your uniform. Pretty much everything from your teams socks and shoes up to their helmet is customizable, and despite what was said by 2K, our group here has been able to create NFL like teams very easily with the resources available in the game.

The Miami Flippers can be transformed into the Dolphins with very little work and after a few minutes of swapping out colors the New England Red Coats will bare a striking resemblance to that team with three Superbowl rings from Foxborough Massachusetts.

All in all though, it is just as fun to create your own team, and once we got the “wow we can make our favorite NFL team” feeling out of our systems that is exactly what we did. When you wield that much power in your hands why stop at pretending to be something when you can create something of your own and show it off instead.

The level of customization in the game is amazing. You may not notice it at first, but outside of the obvious things like the team logo on the field, you will see that the seats in the stadium as well as the fans clothing all update to reflect your new team colors.

GAME MODES
Alright, you have your players and your team is decked out in the city and stadium of your choice … are you ready for some football? Game modes are everything you would expect, as long as you aren’t expecting a franchise mode. There is a pretty in-depth practice mode, head to head, season, and best of all online head to head and league play! If you have always wanted to create a player, throw him on to your custom team, and bring that team online then give yourself a hug because your wait is finally over.

All-Pro Football is about customization online and you are going to love every minute of it. League Mode is truly a gift and will make you forget all about the games lack of a franchise mode. Simply put, once you and your friends are locked in to the weekly grind you will be too busy trash talking to miss ten seasons of computer drafts and lopsided victories.

GAMEPLAY / GRAPHICS & ATTENTION TO DETAIL
The animations are fluid and more importantly are extremely responsive to your command. Want to stop on a dime, spin around and take off towards the end zone like you stole something? Consider it done. How about trucking over defenders like BIG FOOT at a monster truck rally? You can do that too. Defenders need not worry though, 2K has them covered as well. Dive for a player with 2K’s reach tackle system and shatter their dreams of scoring six. Experience gang tackling the way it was meant to be with some of the best gang tackling animations we have seen in a video game thus far. Run out of bounds and your teammates on the sidelines will brace you.

The kicking game requires that you pull back on the right analog to start the kicker in motion and push up quickly as he approaches the ball. This will take some time getting used to for most gamers, but once you get it down, you will find it very satisfying and it will be hard to go back to anything else.

The AI in this game is so unbelievably smart that it will make you sick at first. Best advice we can give you is to forget the plays that worked for you in the past and become a student of the game of football. Watch the defenders on offense and try to anticipate their next move, and when you are on defense pray that Jerry Rice breaks a leg … literally, because we have yet to see a defender stop the man from catching a ball.

Player models are a bit cartoonish in the face, but that is the look they were going for and it totally makes sense for a game that focuses heavily on so many big named athletes. They actually remind us a bit of caricatures which again make sense for a game of this nature. Players come in three body types each with the option of being either ripped, normal, or fat.

And in case you were wondering, yes the game has a net behind the goal posts and referees are on field as well. You will also notice things like players praying together at mid field. The cheesy player voices are back and there is no shame in admitting that you love them. Who can forget the sound of ghetto fabulous Tom Brady uttering the words “Yea yea, I would like to thank my O-Line” after a big victory in 2K5.

We initially thought the stadiums were going to be unrealistic and take away from the football experience but after playing in them all we admit we were wrong. They are works of art, animated, full of character, and very well thought out. Each stadium comes with its own signature celebration dance that members of the team calling it home can perform there.

COMMENTARY / MUSIC
Dan Stevens and Peter O’Keefe are back with a few oldies but goodies. You will notice a lot of the same audio from 2K5 mixed into the game but who cares. These guys are the best in the video game broadcasting business. Dare I say, you can’t coach that.

Music is repetitive and while there are a few tracks that make you want to strap on a helmet and hit someone, most will make you want to press mute and strangle someone. That said, video game soundtracks have become less about original music and more about marketing new bands. So if it’s music you want, load up your own and avoid subjecting your ear drums to the video game worlds equivalent of MTV.

REPLAY VALUE
If you like franchise mode then you are going to be a little let down, but if you are willing to give online league play a try then this game will keep you entertained for a very long time. The ability to create multiple teams and select the one you think matches up best with your opponent adds variety to the game as well.

CLOSING COMMENTS
If you long for authentic football simulation and consider yourself a gamer then All-Pro Football 2K8 should definitely be in your collection. It gives its all on the field, and leaves nothing out.

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