September 3rd, 2007 17:29 EST
Madden NFL '08 vs. All-Pro Football 2K8
*Please note that these reviews are based on the Xbox 360 versions of each game.*
EA`s Madden NFL series is the most popular video game football franchise of all time, but Sega`s NFL 2K5 is widely regarded as one of the best football games ever made. When EA purchased exclusive rights to the NFL and NFLPA licenses in 2004, the NFL 2K series became nothing more than a distant memory. Madden has been the only NFL game on the market since then giving gamers nothing else to choose from. Fast forward to 2007 and the 2K series is back with their brand new game, All-Pro Football 2K8. The question is can a game without the NFL license take on the Madden juggernaut?
Winner: Madden `08
For the first time since making the leap to next gen, Madden finally feels like a true next gen football experience. The gameplay is no longer sluggish and you actually feel like you`re in control of everything that`s going on. The fact that the game is running at 60 frames per second is huge. It makes the entire game just feel and look so much more fluid. The addition of gang tackles not only looks cool, but also really makes the game feel more realistic. Things like being able to tackle high or low with the new hitstick and being able to shift your offense and defense any way you like just adds to the authentic NFL feel of the game. Pretty much anything you can imagine, you can do in this game. The player weapons system is a great addition to the series as well.
It really separates the good players from the great players. Trying to cover a receiver like Torry Holt with a no name corner is not going to end well, same deal with calling the same defensive play over and over again on guys like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady; they`ll just tear you apart. Trying to tackle LT or Devin Hester in the open field is just as difficult as it sounds. It really does add a lot to the game, and I can definitely see this feature being constantly improved in future Madden titles. The only things that hinder the experience are the overabundance of interceptions and fumbles. It can make the games more intense, but it`s just completely unrealistic to see guys like Steven Jackson and Larry Johnson cough up the ball at least once or twice every game. The passing game is also fairly difficult, but after some time you get better accustomed to it.
Since All-Pro doesn`t have the NFL license, they came up with a really interesting concept. They`ve included over 240 retired NFL veterans in the game of which you choose 11 players for your made up team, which can also be tweaked to your liking. It`s really a novel idea, but the execution sucks. The fact that you can only select 11 total players for your team means that you also have 11 random scrubs, which is absolutely stupid.
Nobody cares about these made up guys. If you could pick all 22 players on your team, that would be much more interesting, but sadly we`ll have to wait for next year`s version and hope they wise up. The only thing that All-Pro does better than Madden in terms of gameplay is the running game. The 2K series always had the most realistic running game, and All-Pro continues that trend. Hitting holes and making jukes in the open field just feels right. Sadly, that`s about the only good thing I can say about All-Pro`s gameplay. The passing game feels sluggish, and the whole game just seems slow and boring. It really just feels outdated in general. It still feels exactly like NFL 2K5, which was great back then, but not so great anymore.
Winner - Madden "08
There`s no contest here; Madden blows All-Pro out of the water graphically. The player models in Madden are very polished and look great. Awesome detail in the players, their jerseys, helmets, the stadiums, and even the grass looks eerily realistic. Animations are smooth and there are a lot of new additions like leaping catches, mid air collisions, and a bunch of new gang tackle animations. The player models on the sidelines and the coaches could look better, but that`s a small complaint.
All-Pro on the other hand still looks like a Dreamcast game, no joke. The only time the players don`t look terrible is when the camera zooms in closely on them before the snap, but even then, it`s nothing to write home about. I just can`t believe how bad this game looks; it honestly makes the game unplayable in my opinion. Instead of looking realistic, it looks more like a cartoon. It`s just painful to play this game and look at the lackluster graphics.
If the gameplay were better, I could possibly overlook the terrible graphics, but that isn`t the case. The made up stadiums could have been really cool with things like giant fighter jets, a huge flaming Phoenix, and various other themed stadiums, but the horrible graphics just make the stadiums look silly instead. The player animations are simply amazing though. Watching a running back break through the line and race down the sideline or seeing a receiver contort his body in mid air and struggle to get his feet inbounds near the back of the end zone is just awesome. Despite that, there`s no debating which game looks better.
Winner: All-Pro Football 2K8 This is one category where All-Pro actually puts up a fight. The commentary of Dan Stevens and Peter O`Keefe has returned, and they sound great as ever. They actually say interesting things during the game, and they`re often times very funny. Anyone who has played the 2K series will know exactly what to expect here. Madden "08 on the other hand has possibly the worst commentary ever. The same worthless radio announcer returns from last year, and he`s still completely boring.
The only time you`ll hear Madden is when you select the Ask Madden " option when picking a play. I have no idea why Madden and Al Michaels aren`t the announcers, but EA desperately needs to find some more interesting replacements for next year. As far as the on field sounds, each game is about the same. You`ll hear all the standard football sounds, big hits, lineman grunting in the trenches, quarterbacks barking out signals, and players talking trash.
Winner: Madden "08
After lacking almost every feature that made the Madden series so popular over the past few years, Madden "08 has brought back everything you could ask for. Franchise mode, single season mode, superstar mode, mini games, exhibition, tutorials, online play, and a slightly changed version of owner mode, which is now called finance mode. There`s also a new ring system in which you build up points and trophies as you accomplish specific feats in the game. There`s just a ton of stuff to do here, and the online mode makes for endless hours of fun.
The same can`t be said for All-Pro however, as it`s about the most featureless game, you will ever play. The only things you can do in All-Pro are play a single game, or play through a 16 game season. There`s no franchise mode, so after one season you`re done. You just pick a new team and play a whole new season. Lame. They could have done so much more with this game considering they aren`t restricted by the NFL rules anymore, but they didn`t. There`s an online mode included which can be decent fun, but I just can`t see why anyone would rather play this game instead of the vastly superior Madden "08.
Overall Winner: Madden `08
I think with a few years of tweaking, All-Pro will be back to the same level that NFL 2K5 was when it came out, but for right now Madden is the clear cut winner. If you`re going to pick up one football game this year, do yourself a favor and get Madden. Don`t worry about the fact that the last few Madden games have been sub par, Madden "08 is the real deal.