Major League Baseball 2K13 Review (Xbox 360)
We were all surprised when 2K Sports announced the release of MLB 2K13, the next Major League Baseball game to surely leave 360 owners pining for a separate system. For baseball lovers without a Playstation 3, time stood still for a brief moment and excitement took over.
But inevitable questions loomed. From thoughts of 2K and MLB just trying to pocket extra money, to gamers wondering if they need to shell out $60 for what seems to amount to a roster update and nothing else.
2K kept quiet, didn’t promote or talk much about MLB 2K13, but sure enough MLB 2K13 released with that hefty $60 price tag. But something happened once I opened up the game and placed it in my system: MLB 2K13 really isn’t that bad; it’s honestly a very enjoyable game. It’s a blast to pick-up-and-play with friends and feels very familiar on the field. It's not in the same league as The Show at this point, with many legacy issues marring the experience and with no real sizeable upgrades over 2K12 waiting on you, but it's hard to say the entire experience is just bad.
It's more like way too familiar.
The depth in Major League Baseball 2K13 is as deep as the kiddie pool in your back yard. Yes the game has some slight improvements, but MLB 2K13’s issues, both hidden and glaring, keeps this franchise from enjoying its presumable swan song.
First and foremost, the CPU AI has been slightly upgraded it seems. Pitching and hitting substitutions seem logical unlike in previous titles. Teams will pinch hit when they should; left-handed pitchers come in at the right time. The small details that can change the outcome of a game seem to be nailed down.
The pitching and hitting analog interface is just as good as ever. The analog controls keep you focused on the game, and make it more rewarding when you execute your actions perfectly. Pitching is nothing less than one of the most enjoyable parts of MLB 2K13 -- but it could be one of the only enjoyable parts too.
Hitting has seen a slight upgrade it seems, even if I only see it in home run totals. If you’re like me, Classic is the way to go at the plate. And if Classic is the way to go, then you won’t be disappointed when it comes to those home run counts.
A persistent issue with the MLB 2K series have revolved around fielding. In MLB 2K13, they have improved the ball physics to the point of satisfaction. However, fielders – mainly outfielders – can still get stuck in animations and lead to a game-changing error. All of the legacy issues from the MLB 2K series are still here, which shows while some small tweaks were attempted, minimal effort was actually put in to making this a better product than last year.
Also, the speed of players seems to fluctuate so often that I find the actual rating almost meaningless. BJ Upton feels considerably slower in the outfield than he does on the base paths.
With the slight gameplay upgrades (and we do mean slight), MLB 2K13 does feel slightly better than 2K12. But to be honest, after spending more time with both games, MLB 2K13 feels much more like a patched version of 2K12 than a full blown new retail release at best, if not a direct carbon copy sans a few small tweaks.
Presentation and Sound
As stated countless times at Operation Sports, 2K Sports has always had this part of a game down to a tee. MLB 2K13 has a great commentary team, but the soundtrack, menus and graphics are lacking.
The trio of Steve Phillips, Gary Thorne and John Kruk has excellent chemistry, and the bantering back and forth will keep you very pleased. As a Mariners fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the three talking about Justin Smoak and his upcoming make-or-break year.
The menus are identical to MLB 2K12, which was expected but just another issue that sticks out to gamers. The graphics and colors seem too bright and cartoony for a baseball game as they're more akin to a title that should be named MLB Bobblehead Pros. And the soundtrack that was never released prior to release is arguably on of the worst 2K has put together.
Let's face it, the fact that Sean Kingston and Blue Oyster Cult share track listings in a baseball game should make anybody cringe.
Remember MLB 2K12’s online leagues? Well, they don’t exist anymore. It is just another reason to knock this game down another notch.
Other than the disappointment of the online leagues, MLB 2K13 brings a Franchise mode, My Player, Playoffs, Home-Run Derby and MLB Today Season.
Franchise is just upsetting. The lack of depth in the mode kills any chance of survival, especially considering running a baseball organization can be considered the deepest of all professional sports leagues. The farm system is laughable. And end-of-season awards are iffy as well. Mike Olt, a highly regarded Texas prospect, finished the season with the Rangers batting .143 and still won the Rookie of the Year. I’ve noticed in other simulations where he has won the award with terrible-to-fantastic numbers. Scripted? Hope not.
My Player is like the girlfriend you just don’t want to break up with. You know there is something better out there, but you just can’t help yourself but go back to her. MP is fun, it’s entertaining, but it gets old too quick. The goals to advance seem slightly too far off and it gives you the sense that no matter what happens, your player will make it to the big leagues. The depth and difficulty to make this mode seem real isn’t there.
For as much flak as 2K Sports has received about their online serves, specifically for the NBA series, I’m surprised how well MLB 2K13’s online service works. Lag doesn’t show up that much at all, but when it hits, it hits you hard. I noticed a lot of the time when I would have runners advancing, the lag would set in as I rounded bases, second in particular.
Of course, this could be due to the fact few players are online at the present time.
There really isn’t much to say about the online play other than the occasional lag, but one online mode has me intrigued. MLB Today Season, which allows you to play along with the real-life MLB schedule, has potential to be great. I will be back late April with an article discussing how (hopefully) awesome this mode can be. So stay tuned.
MLB 2K13 isn’t going to win any awards, or kind criticism for that matter. They have released an old product which is slightly patched with old features removed from the previous year's effort. The gameplay is better and the commentary is awesome, but nothing else really brings this game to a respectable pedestal. Add in the fact that 2K Sports left out online leagues and we are left with the exact definition of incomplete.
I hate jumping to conclusions, especially with a developer such as 2K, but this game feels and looks like a get-rich-quick scheme drafted by Major League Baseball and Take Two to somehow recover lost profits from prior years. I don’t know who is to blame, or if there really is any to go around fully, but this game feels like one where the most minimal of effort possible was put into it.
MLB 2K13 is not a bad game by any means, but rather this is more about the principle of the matter. When a company charges $60 for a game with little improvements over a release a year earlier, something has gone terribly wrong. Attaching a $60 price tag to this game is nonsense.
Don't buy unless you absolutely have to have the Astros in the AL West on your XBox 360.
Graphics: In comparison to the majority of sports game in the current generation, MLB 2K13 is near the bottom when it comes to graphics.
Audio: Some of the best commentary for a baseball game, but has a pretty bad soundtrack.
Learning Curve: Simple as it gets. Even for those new to the analog controls, it will take a game to get the hang of everything.
Control Scheme: Nothing has changed. If you've played one, you've played them all.
Lasting Appeal: With a boring farm system and get-old-quick My Player, MLB 2K13 will turn into knick knack.
Final Score: 4 (Below-Average)