I can remember it like it was yesterday. It was the summer of 2007. The Xbox 360 had been out for 2 years. It was all my 10 year old self wanted for my 11th birthday. I had done all the research on it and knew if I got it I would only be able to get 1 game with. It would be my only game for awhile so I had to pick wisely. That’s around the time the Madden 08 trailer dropped. You know the one. Vince Young sits in the film room telling all the new rookies his journey from the season before. As a kid growing up in Houston it was all kids were talking about.
At the time I was a big NCAA Football kid. I still don’t understand why I didn’t just get NCAA Football 08, but the Vince Young hype was real. However, while doing my Xbox 360 research I came across another football game’s trailer.
All Pro Football 2K8 was something completely different than Madden 08. As a student of the game from a young age, I prided myself in studying the legends of football. Being able to build a team with players like Barry Sanders and Dan Marino seemed so cool. Also being the kid who would relocate teams in madden and create new uniforms, All Pro’s custom uniform creator was like heaven to me. At the time I was playing the game it was really hard. I didn’t understand how some features worked and even the abilities of some of the legends. Predictably, 2K8 didn’t sell well and 2K scrapped All Pro 2K9, but 12 years later, after another abysmal year of Madden, perhaps it is time to revisit the hidden gem that is All Pro Football 2K8.
Another Boring Madden
I’m going to be honest, Madden 19 was essentially the same game as Madden 18. Even with a new game engine and AI the game was just insufferable. The run game is terrible. Passing the ball is still ridiculous. A 65-overall backup can torch your top ranked secondary in CFM for no apparent reason. Just go on the Madden Reddit and you’ll see everything I just stated and more. I got Madden 19 with early release and the Hall of Fame edition (gotta treat yourself) so I could get some Ultimate Team cards and get into the mode this year. Could be a fun investment of my time, right?
I quickly learned that every kid with a Mike Vick card and their parents credit card was going to roll out and throw it deep/scramble on the broken coverage system. It’s a micro-transaction wasteland. I gave up on MUT and went back to Franchise mode, but with poor gameplay I honestly just gave up after one season and quit playing all together. With Madden 18, I played in franchises with friends. Played season after season. With Madden 19 I just didn’t have the patience anymore. I was preparing to enter a world without video game football.
The Savior Returns
About a month ago, just before the AFC Championship Game my friend came to town so we could go up to the game. Before we left we hung out a little bit and he asked me, “do you still have All Pro 2K8?” I hadn’t played it for real in about 6 years, but I still had it. You don’t get rid of the first game you got for a console. Still have my NCAA Football 03 for GameCube, NCAA Football 06 for Xbox and Madden 25 for Xbox One.
Watching him play All Pro brought back that nostalgia of playing it as a kid. When he left town I just couldn’t put it down. I realized how truly fantastic of a game All Pro is, but why is that? What is it that makes All Pro Football 2K8 so great?
1. The Team Building
The way you build your teams was so cool. You got 2 gold players (guys like Joe Montana, Reggie White, and Earl Campbell), 3 Silver (Ken Stabler, Too Tall Jones, Dick Butkus) and 6 Bronze (Bernie Kosar, Christian Okoye, and Dexter Manley). You could piece together you legends anyway you want. Want a Offensive juggernaut? Stack your legends with Offensive weapons. Want to shut offenses down? Get Derrick Thomas and Reggie White as your gold players and bring the pain.
However you wanted to stack your legends you could. The rest of the team would be filled with generic fake players. You then were able to choose from different logos in the game and name them whatever you wanted from the over 50+ team names available. As well as picking a stadium. The way you set it was up to you.
2. The Gameplay
The way the game handled once you built your team in hit the field is still unrivaled despite being 12 years old. QBs throwing motions were spot on, defenders actually engaged appropriately on the line, and corners and safeties out of position didn’t magically slid into the spot to deflect passes. Here’s some examples:
The folks at 2K were truly committed to making an accurate game. They knew their stuff. Nothing was scripted. You wouldn’t get random guys breaking through the line. If a snap was bad and the blockers kept the rush back no worries. If someone snuck through and got a hand up then the FG was naturally going to be no good. It wouldn’t be some guy magically rushing around the edge.
It was all organic and it overall was true to how Football is played. Rolling out every play and throwing it deep isn’t going to work in All Pro.
So What Is Your Point?
I’m sure why you’re wondering why I’m over here fanboying over a 12 year old video game. With Spring Football back in full swing with the AAF this year and the XFL next year, perhaps it’s time for 2K to get back in the football game. Don’t let EA have all the football fun. With the way modding works for Madden on PC now it is only a matter of time that the AAF is on PC. Why not beat them and get your own game again. By doing a deal with both the XFL and AAF you could have 16 teams in your game. Secure those USFL rights and sign some deals with their old players and get some legendary teams in there. It could be fun little gaming experiment. With Madden’s fanbase growing more and more tired of the same crap every year, bringing back the 2K football franchise for the spring is the perfect thing to begin to topple EA’s monopoly of video game football. As Austin pointed out earlier this morning he’s got a fun idea for the AAF and Madden. Just call our ideas different sides of the same coin.
Follow Will on Twitter-@Big12FanWill
Follow @BallOnThe25 on Twitter