By Todd Zuniga 05/02/2007 The NFL Draft may have ended Sunday, but that didn't stop 2K from creating its own fake one-player draft Tuesday to promote the upcoming All-Pro Football 2K8. And shock of all shocks, Jerry Rice -- who happened to be in attendance -- was chosen as the first overall pick!
The future Hall of Famer and 20-year NFL vet is one of the featured ex-NFLers in 2K8, and was the first legendary player signed to become part of the game. "I went number one, man, that's amazing," said an exuberant Rice. "In '85 I went in the first round, but I was the 16th player taken. Now with 2K Sports and All-Pro Football 2K8 I'm the number one player taken. And that's with over 200 legends."
At the event, we saw a short video clip that showed some of the game's homerun moments: a defensive back tipped a ball and his teammate slid to catch it before it hit the ground; Jerry Rice tip-toed to stay in bounds after he ran an out pattern; Barry Sanders confused defenders with some wicked shake and bake; Walter Payton slipped past defenders; and John Elway stepped back to deliver a bullet. While the player movements looked sharp, the graphics didn't blow our wigs off (yes, we wear wigs) in the non-HD video on display.
We don't have any screenshots of All-Pro 2K8 just yet, so enjoy this look back at NFL 2K5, its spiritual predecessor.
We were certainly struck by the impact of not having the NFL license -- seeing Elway in a Rhinos jersey or Unitas in non-Colts colors was jarring. But Greg Thomas, sports game pioneer and Visual Concepts bigwig (again with the wigs!), doesn't think the lack of an NFL license will matter once people play the game.
"We've gotten so many e-mails and so many of our fans talk to us and say, 'I'm still playing 2K5. I don't want to play anything else. I keep updating the rosters, but it's not enough anymore -- I want a new game,'" says Thomas. "So bringing the greatest players that have ever played the game together into one game, and bringing back the game engine that people have really come to love is what it's all about."
If players can get over the lack of an NFL license, will this game be able to compete with Madden on the presentation side? Thomas certainly thinks so. "I think that Madden does a great job graphically," he says. "But I think graphics are about a ticket to admission: you have to be at a certain level. I think we're doing some things that we haven't seen anyone else do, like we always do. Our guys work really hard to make these games look and play great -- but it's not just about looks, and it's not just about how it plays. It's about creating the whole package. Our game, graphically, is going to meet that price of admission, and it'll meet our own standards, which is a pretty high bar."
The high bar standard is why the allegiance to 2K's sports games has been so strong for so long. And as games like Blitz have proven, football titles can certainly sell well without having the NFL license attached, so it'll be very interesting to see how well All-Pro 2K8 performs compared to Madden when it ships later this year.