MLB 2K13 Review

MLB 2K13 is a complete and utter retread with all the appeal of used chewing gum.

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Sports games take a lot of abuse for their one-year production cycles. It's hard to jam in innovations alongside the usual schedule and roster updates, given the lack of development time available in the measly 12 months between seasons. Still, you generally get some sort of new feature or cool new physics to take the sting out of spending $60. And then there's MLB 2K13, a sports game that lives up to all the cliches about publishers doing little besides changing the packaging and the number in the game title. This ostensibly 2013 baseball game from 2K Sports looks, sounds, and plays exactly like the 2012 baseball game from 2K Sports. Aside from new rosters, a new schedule most noteworthy for the oddly annoying move of the Houston Astros to the American League, and the deletion of online leagues, this is simply a repackaging of what has come before.

When we say that MLB 2K13 is the same game as MLB 2K12, we mean it. The feature set has been fully carried forward with the one noteworthy exception being the removal of online league support. Perhaps it wasn't being used that much, or perhaps it was removed for budgetary reasons. Either way, it's a loss, since online leagues are a staple of sports games. The only significant changes are to the schedule and the team setup; the game does move the Houston Astros over to the AL West and out of the National League, where they comfortably resided for the past half-century.

Gameplay on the diamond is just about identical, with the same positives and the same flaws. So, yes, the game still comes with the same fantastic Total Control analog pitching mechanic that has made for such great moments on the mound in recent years. Pitching is tense and enjoyable, especially when you get runners on base and the pressure mounts.

The game also still comes with easy-to-approach hitting that lets you get good wood on the ball from even the first moments of play, whether you're leading a whole team in franchise play or a solo wannabe major leaguer in the My Player career mode. Opposition managers might be a little more intelligent this year. Pitchers get yanked at opportune times now in late innings, and pinch hitters are brought in mostly smartly (no more pitchers hitting with runners aboard in one-run games in the eighth inning, huzzah). There seems to be more situational awareness all around, which makes for more-challenging, more-realistic matchups.

Retread or not, you get a decent game of baseball here. It might be a little more oriented toward arcade action than a true simulation, but it's a satisfying experience that walks the line between re-creating big league baseball and letting you pretend you're Babe Ruth and pound the ball for a couple of hours. The game is also great for pick-up-and-play with friends, because its easy accessibility lends itself well to quick exhibition games, or when taking on a buddy over the Net or on the couch. Still, all this ease-of-use accessibility was available last year. And the year before.

My Player is still a compelling way to experience MLB 2K. Role-playing a young player from riding the buses in AA to the bright-lights, big-city vibe of the bigs is addictive along the lines of a good turn-based game, where you can get hooked on playing one more matchup until the wee hours of the morning. Progression also moves along fairly quickly. Light things up on the farm, and you can be brought up pretty fast. It might not be entirely realistic, but it's certainly fun being a phenom. Load times are zippy, too, especially in comparison with the competition over at the Sony-exclusive MLB 13: The Show. This can make a big difference in My Player, because there is a lot of downtime between at-bats and fielding attempts, unless you've chosen to play as a pitcher or catcher.

But MLB 2K13 still comes with oddball physics. The ball moves strangely at times, seeming to speed up or slow down in flight. Players themselves are like pinball bumpers in the way that they can get drilled by hit balls and spring up ready for more. Line shots back at the pitcher that might well kill people in the real world just bounce off harmlessly or are impossibly fielded. Graphical hitches interrupt at-bats. Choppy animations continue to get in the way of fielding attempts. Players shudder and jerk through games like they're robots running out of power. Animations speed up and slow down randomly, as if there are frames missing.

Player faces are all over the place. It's a toss-up if a star is going to look like his real-world counterpart or a creepy blank-eyed zombie that would fit in better in The Walking Dead than in Yankee Stadium. There are no showstoppers that break the game. Still, it's frustrating to see the same old problems after so long. All of these flaws were more forgivable a few years ago, when standards were lower and the game did so many things right. Then, the game looked like it was on its way up. You sure can't say that three years later.

Audio and sound effects hold the line as well. In this case, that's a good thing, because the atmospheric park noises are very true to life, and the three-man team of Gary Thorne, Steve Phillips, and John Kruk does a stellar job in the broadcast booth. A fair bit of the play-by-play and color commentary seems fresh, too, so this is one part of the game that feels somewhat new. The soundtrack is all over the place, however, with a strange mix of alt rock, college rock, hip-hop, and one classic rock straggler. There isn't any identity created by the soundtrack; the songs are as anonymous and forgettable as the rest of the game.

Not much serious work seems to have been done to the MLB 2K series since the 2010 edition of the game. You have to wonder how much time was even spent on prepping this game for release, since 2012 was believed to be the last in the series until a surprise January announcement that the series was back from the dead. At one time, this was a franchise with promise, a serious rival to Sony's MLB: The Show. But the game has fallen so far behind its competition that there isn't any sense keeping it going unless 2K Sports commits to a complete design overhaul. Without that sort of work, we'll likely be back to a single baseball game next season. And even though a monopoly is never a good thing, it's not like there is any real competition going on right now, anyhow.

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The Good
Great analog pitching mechanics
Still plays a good game of baseball on the diamond
My Player mode remains addictive
The Bad
Virtually no changes from MLB 2K12 and MLB 2K11
Lots of graphical hitches and awkward animations
Online league support completely removed
5
Mediocre
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Discussion

50 comments
DeViLzzz
DeViLzzz

For the people that knocked this for not having online leagues when do people ever finish any of them ?  That is a pet peeve I have with the sports games.  EA and other companies need to start pay leagues so people stay in.

Doc_Fulk
Doc_Fulk

Pretty obvious none of you (including the reviewer) don't know wtf you are talking about.

If this game is so  "bad", why is it this game has been in the top 10 in sales for almost 2 months?


You all either SUCK or you're all just a bunch of "The Show" fanboys.


For those of you interested in this game -- buy it. It's a good/great game of baseball and ignore the amateurs on here and IGN.

Solid 8 to 8.5 game.

Magnus1959
Magnus1959

I liked the pitching and batting better in 2k12 than the show but the show looks better.

macual
macual

is there really no online leagues?  good thing i didnt open it up.

Dswiss
Dswiss

how can they make such if good basketball game game but a crappy mlb game?

Vegeta-sama
Vegeta-sama

Transitional release? Wonder if they will continue to support 2k12 PC version with roster updates?

kingcrimson24
kingcrimson24

NBA was amazing , wondering why this one f*** up . uh ... i don't know anything about baseball . only sport games i have are NBA and FIFA .

Vodoo
Vodoo

It's so ridiculous that the publisher that makes the worser of the 2 sports games got the exclusive licenses. EA's Madden was clearly inferior to 2K Football, but EA got the license. 2K had the worse baseball game and they grabbed the license. Are they trying to ruin video game sports on purpose? As far as I'm concerned, there shouldn't be an exclusive license to sports games.

BongMonkey
BongMonkey

only reason i have a ps3 and considering a ps4 is because of the show.  i hope the new xbox finally gets a good baseball game, i'd rather just buy one console for the next gen.

VolcanoMan001
VolcanoMan001

This is a perfect example why there shouldn't be exclusive licenses thrown around with sports video games. Encourage competition. I said this before to allow 2K Sports to make an NFL/NCAA football game again (one can only hope), but it works both directions. No more exclusive licenses!!

Tribesmaster
Tribesmaster

I really wish EA would just start making baseball games again.

oflow
oflow

people love to hate on this game but a few years back as far as playability goes it was better than the show which played too much like a sim.  Theres a reason the show stole a bunch of the mechanics from this game.

squidbilly22
squidbilly22

Madden should be a 5 then also i can't make a playbook in career coach mode/no ranked matches ,horrible online matchmaking... and they scrapped franchise mode for Ultimate team rip off  pay $ to win ......also  bummer 2k13 isn't on PC this yr..what up with that?

tone414
tone414

i agree that mlb 2k13 didn't do any redesign in preparation far as presentation. they disappointed me.. No online league very disappointing..  soon il buy a ps3 just for the show...That being said if you a sport fan that likes commentary mlb the show 13 and 12 is so boring. i mean it kills the game. To me 2k13 is better than the show as far as in game..way better. I dont know whose worse dodgers announcers mlb the show announcers...it kills the game... too me the show is a 5 based on they play by play. if you a person that play music whn playing the game this game is a 10... if the show had mlb 2k13 play by play greatest sport game of all time....yes sports fans its that bad... what bothers me is the show didnt  even change anything...like its ok.. to me show 13 8.0  mlb 2k13 7.5


wantbackin
wantbackin

Wow, GameSpot being a tad sympathetic by giving this game a 5.0. The game is last year's game and they only give it a 5. A "5" is the middle score, this should have gotten a 3 or 4. But I guess when it's a freelance review, the consistency is thrown out the window.

CMakaCreative
CMakaCreative

Looks like some other company needs to pick up the license once 2KSports is done with it. So far we really only have one option for each sport: Madden for football, NBA2K for basketball & MLB: The Show for baseball....unless you own a XBox, then it's this game...which is a shame.

Nibraybirk
Nibraybirk

This is why I bought a PS3. MLB the Show is the only real baseball game for years now.

al-hasan-faroq2
al-hasan-faroq2

Why can't they ever get this freaking series right!?!?!?!??!?!

MadGamer132
MadGamer132

2K supposed to end the series but they add another year, i think i don't know why but i bet EA will do a baseball game sooner than later.

buffaloblitz85
buffaloblitz85

Okay so I get the score - 5/10 is more then fair, no changes ect.... and the Madden franchise??? HOW IS IT MADDEN CONSTANTLY GETS ANYTHING FROM A 7.5 to a 9 ??

tmacman
tmacman

I have no clue why 2k renewed the license, wasn't the series hemorrhaging money towards the end of the last license? Then they release this garbage, good job guys...That is, if your objective was to not make money.

thereal-15-cent
thereal-15-cent

Finally a guy that has a problem with games not improving over their last yearly release... He should review Madden and CoD every year.

Patohua1
Patohua1

I've never understood why they release a new sports game every year. There's not enough time to make any changes and there is simply no reason to release one every year. They should release a new one every 5 years and every year in between simply give a $5 DLC pack for the new roster and schedule. I mean, these games are stupid anyway, so why not at least make them a little bit sensible...

SunicoXD
SunicoXD

Wow. Gamespot is being good lately with the review.

ElfShotTheFood
ElfShotTheFood

2K Sports should bring back The Bigs. 

I guess 2K figures they can make some money from 360 owners who like baseball games. Still, someone else should get a shot to make a third-party MLB game.

slicedbread117
slicedbread117

It truely sucks to not be able to play a good baseball game every year as a Xbox gamer. I wish EA Sports would step into MLB games.

towely62
towely62

i wish EA could make some mlb games like they use to i dont like EA very much but it would be better than this garbage

FAIL_TR0LL
FAIL_TR0LL

It's a shame that this franchise is consistently terrible when they do such a good job with the NBA series. 

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

2013 is off to a great start........


X_X

SIDEFX1
SIDEFX1

A expensive coaster indeed.

Canemane13
Canemane13

Clearly YOU are the one that doesn't know what they're talking about. If it's such a great game then why does a sac fly hurt your batting average? How am I a cleanup hitter batting in the first inning with no one on and only 1 out? Why does my player stop mid stride and spin in a circle? I'm assuming that the sales have something to do with people not reading critical reviews, and possibly the $1,000,000 prize. This game is a 5/10 at best.

cjtopspin
cjtopspin

@Dswiss I know right?  I don't get it either.  Their NBA games are epic and these MLB games are straight excrement.

Infinite_713
Infinite_713

@VodooNFL 2k5 was much better than Madden05 but EA had to stop the competition after 2k5 because they saw a real threat. That's why the prices of Madden dropped to $30 bucks because NFL2k5 price was $20 and you had a much better and in-depth game than EA's madden. EA is a smart company who doesn't care for the fans of a sport. I will admit that although the reviewer isn't saying this is a bad game, it's basically just saying you can pick up MLB2k11 and have the same game for less so don't waste your money. It's a shame 2k allowed this to happen.

BongMonkey
BongMonkey

@Tribesmaster   yeah but they way they're going they'll want people to pay per pitch. oh you want an updated roster.. that'll be 14.99.  Your team made the postseason, please deposit 9.99 to continue.  EA has become a joke since MVP 05.  Which I loved

DGWTF
DGWTF

@al-hasan-faroq2 It's a sports game. Those are very rarely done right.

blitzinD
blitzinD

@buffaloblitz85 Madden has been a 5 for about a decade, no doubt. I have stopped playing it, which is sad because football games used to be my favourite games both on console and PC... if someone would bring back Front Page Sports Football with modern graphics I would be a happy man.

Slim_Lyrics
Slim_Lyrics

@tmacman Word is that the MLB struck a deal with 2K at the eleventh hour when they realized there'd be no baseball game for the Xbox. The deal had to be financially beneficial to 2K or else they never would of released such an awful product that obviously won't sell.

Arkhalipso
Arkhalipso

@Patohua1 It's very simple, they don't put too much effort and money to make it since it's the same game from last year with little changes and people still buy it because it's new and actualized. At least that's what happens with football games, and they make tons of money.

jeremyc99999
jeremyc99999

@Patohua1 I like the yearly releases of sports games, but only because I don't buy the same one's every year, It's smarter to alternate between different sports each year.

Canemane13
Canemane13

I don't recall Madden ever dropping to $30, at least since it was on N64. ESPN released a series of games that were priced at $20

ForceofNature9
ForceofNature9

@Slim_Lyrics @tmacman 

If that's true, that sounds incredibly insulting and downright disrespectful to Xbox owners. I would rather watch my team lose for the umpteenth time then play this ****. I'm being completely honest that Xbox users will have to get a PS3 for a good game of The Show if they want a quality baseball product. **** 2K.

MLB 2K13 More Info

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  • First Released
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    MLB 2K13 brings hours of baseball action for sports fans or gamers where players can master the signature right analog pitching controls to achieve perfection on the mound, enjoy the authentic baseball environment of MLB Today, and develop winning players and teams in My Player, Franchise & Postseason modes.
    4.6
    Average User RatingOut of 39 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate MLB 2K13
    Developed by:
    Visual Concepts
    Published by:
    2K Games
    Genres:
    Baseball, Team-Based, Simulation, Sports
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms
    No Descriptors