Back in the primitive days of 1999 when Sega unleashed upon the world the Sega Dreamcast they revamped their entire sports line-up with 2K Games. The titles that premiered on the Dreamcast were the imaginatively named NFL2K, NHL2K, NBA2K, and World Series Baseball 2K. Before this Electronic Arts pretty much dominated sports games, Madden was the big cheese in football, and NHL 99 was the tops in Hockey, 2K Games changed all this though.
Between 1999 and 2005 2K Games pushed Madden to be better and in and of itself NFL2k was better. As any capitalist will tell you competition is good for the consumer. NFL 2K would innovate, and that would push the long stagnate Madden to innovate, it was a nice back and forth battle, and it really got heated when the Dreamcast (along with Sega in the console market) in 2000 went belly up and unleashed the 2K sports series on Nintendo, Xbox, and PlayStation consoles. Now NFL 2K was in direct competition with Madden.
This created a rift between football fans, you were either team Madden or Team 2K. When I got my Dreamcast NFL 2k was leaps and bounds better than anything Madden had done up until that point (and wouldn’t until it’s first release on the PlayStation 2) so I became entrenched in camp 2K.
NFL 2K felt more real than Madden, not only were the graphics and commentators a nice touch, but the game play was as well. You couldn’t just drop way back in the pocket Tecmo Bowl style and chuck it down field to your fastest receiver, and you could just call a toss play and break off an 80 yard run. 2K was balanced and like the real NFL most drives you had to grind out yards, with the occasional big play. This of course forced Madden to do the same thing in later installments and we were all the better for it.
This war between the two raged on (though Madden seemed to always win in the sales numbers) until 2005 when NFL 2K dropped a bomb on Madden and that was releasing their brand new NFL 2K5 for the low low price of 19.99. For once 2K outsold Madden and a ton of people who always bought Madden finally tried out 2K and loved it. This would be short lived though, because that winter EA announced an exclusive partnership with the NFL which killed NFL 2K.
It was a sad day for football gamers, we were forced to go back to Madden, and without the constant nipping at the heels from 2K Games Madden once again sank back into stagnate waters by not being very innovated year in and out. Granted EA still made solid games (though I felt 2K was better Madden was always good) but they were no longer pushed and everyone suffered for this.
Well just three years later and without the NFL license 2K Games got back in the Football market again with All Pro Football 2K8. This game would not have current players or NFL teams but be made up of a host of former NFL greats, like Joe Montana, Barry Sanders, John Elway, Jerry Rice, and Sling’n Sammy Baugh.
This brought back the feel of NFL 2K but without the NFL license, and for someone like me who not only loves the current NFL product but also the history of the sport it was awesome to play as some of the games greats, especially the ones who had retired before we had more realistic games on the market. Unfortunately for 2K, not having the NFL license killed them and we never got a sequel to the game.
For those familiar with the NFL 2K games will be right at home with this game. Not a lot had changed since 2K5 as far as game play and presentation. Familiar announcers Dan Stevens and Peter O’Keefe are present and makes you feel right at home. Also included are the terrible voices for the players while seen on the sideline or in the huddle.
Diving back into this game after not playing if for several years I had to reintroduce myself not only to the 2K style of game play but also to the way football games were made last decade. For instance, the A button isn’t a stiff arm, it’s the sprint button, and juking isn’t done with the right thumb stick, it’s done with the trigger buttons. This doesn’t take too long to figure out though and once you’re used to the controls you’re off.
There are a couple of modes, multi-player, single game, and season mode. These are all pretty self explanatory. So the basics of the game are once you boot up the game and pick your mode you then have to draft your team. You get to pick 2 Gold Legends, 4 Silver, and 6 Bronze. You can pick from any position on the field so you have to figure out what positions you want to have the best players. The rest of you team gets filled out by random players based on how you want you team to be. You can choose balanced offensive line, or one that’s good for running or pass protection, defensive line can be balanced, run stopping, or pass rush.
This game is fun, but not too long ago I played NFL 2K1 on my Dreamcast and I can honestly say that the NFL games from 2K were more fun than All-Pro, and I think the Dreamcast games were better than the ones released on the Xbox and PlayStation 2.
While running the ball you feel a little bit like your on ice. Passing though is pretty accurate and better than anything else that was released in 2008, however with most sports games, because something was good back then doesn’t mean it’s that great compared to today’s standards. Although drafting your team gives you a unique experience that you can change just about every play through it doesn’t keep the game feeling fresh. It seems like this game was just 2K’s way of testing the waters of a football game without the NFL license. Unfortunately this “test the waters” approach meant the game was sparse in features and 2K was banking on all the people saying “bring NFL 2K back” to generate sales didn’t pan out. If you don’t have the NFL License you need to bring out the big guns, and 2K didn’t which is why this game didn’t sell that well. The allure of playing with legends on your team wears off pretty quickly once you finish your first season and there is no draft or any franchise mode, which is what most gamers want out of a football game, it’s to take over being a team’s owner and General Manager.
Final Verdict: In the end the game still is fun, it’s nice to play as these legends and play the last football game 2K will probably ever make, but their older games on the Dreamcast are more fun, so I have to give this a verdict of Leave it in the Past.