There was a lightly chilly reception for 2K’s return to football dominance (or rather, their attempt at dominance). Lacking an NFL license and looking to rebirth their much-loved brand of football, 2007 brought with it a classic menagerie of NFL all stars from all eras (except the modern one) for All Pro Football 2K8.
The idea was sound, with a wide breadth of customization options and tiered players to choose from, All Pro feels almost infinite. Honestly, if 2K did just about anything to it, the game might even have the same following of NFL 2K5. But, with tired commentary from Dan Stevens and Peter O’Keefe, sometimes robotic motion that left the secondary open, and seemingly sluggish movement that was unchanged from its Xbox origins, not many would latch onto the title in its debut.
Perspective then is a funny thing. Years out and without much in the way of football, seeking a reprieve from Madden means finding something special about All Pro. No, it hasn’t changed, but it’s true 2K football. Animation and presentation authenticity go a long way towards giving the title unexpected shelf life. Now, instead of feeling stale and familiar, it feels refreshing and different.
There’s a lot of design fun in All Pro, with stadiums that house working cranes, jets that fire missiles, working bee hives, and an entire replica of the Lincoln Memorial. It’s kinda like the XFL, spared no expense without thinking that someone has to pay for this stuff. That, and apparently DNA-replicating these superstars from their prime.
It’s hard to defend going back and replaying old sports games to most people, short of the accepted great ones like NHL ’94. Signing into Xbox Live, proudly displaying All Pro as the chosen entertainment, led to a handful of messages from people asking, “Why are you playing THAT?” or, “Must be achievement whoring.”
In fact, that’s not the case at all. On a whim with some spare time in a dead zone of game releases, 2K’s effort just sort of earned a second chance. Apparently, it looks like it will get a third, a fourth, a fifth…