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

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.

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.

In 2013, the lesser of the two major baseball franchises got a little more inferior.

In 2013, the lesser of the two major baseball franchises got a little more inferior.

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.

Pitching remains the series' mechanical highlight.

Pitching remains the series’ mechanical highlight.

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.

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

By Brett Todd