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2K Games
Visual Concepts
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Release Date:
March 5, 2013

You know, I don’t mind if we see only minor improvements in a sports game. Most are annual releases and after all, there’s only so much you can do to increase the realism and authenticity. There are limitations to all hardware and perhaps we have to wait for the next generation before more strides can be taken in the realm of realism. But when you show no progress whatsoever and you appear content to sit on your laurels, the result is an outdated, unsatisfying simulator that is technically flawed and generally unimpressive.

I’m not sure what’s going on with the erratic visual presentation in Major League Baseball 2K13 . Some character models are nice while others are just plain weird, and the animations are often choppy and disconcerting. The number of graphical hitches and glitches are actually alarming; it’s almost as if this one didn’t pass through a requisite QA process. Some of the background effects are decent and there’s a lot of appealing color but for the most part, this is a disappointing graphical production. The wonky physics only amplify the screwy movements, which in turn translates to downright comical situations. A few player faces are borderline disturbing.

The audio is better, as we have the benefit of solid ambient effects and some good commentary. Recognizable color men Steve Phillips, John Kruk and Gary Thorne do an excellent job relating the on-field action, and this is the one and only aspect of MLB 2K13 that outshines the vastly superior MLB 13: The Show . But beyond the entertaining commentary and cool stadium sounds, the soundtrack isn’t anything special and the effects suffer from major balancing issues. The music selections are diverse but almost too much so; I think they shoud’ve picked a couple genres and stuck with those. It’s odd to go from hip-hop to classic rock.

I used the term “outdated” above and that’s primarily because MLB 2K13 doesn’t appear to be any different from last year’s entry. And I mean, no different at all . In fact, the only difference might be less technical stability and even more unrealistic ball physics. And in an industry that demands constant progress and advancement, this doesn’t feel like mere stagnation; it feels like several steps backward. The competition in the form of Sony’s MLB 13: The Show did very much the opposite. It took a step or two in the right direction and was far more polished and refined.

The latest from Visual Concepts and 2K Games sports a roster update and the new season’s schedule but that’s about it. I really can’t find anything new and I’ve really looked. How did they manage to produce the same game twice? Seriously. Shouldn’t that be part of the QA process, too? Shouldn’t someone be going, “Uh…didn’t we just do exactly this last year?” I will say that too many sports games face the “oh, it’s only another roster update” accusation year in and year out, but I can honestly say that this is one of the few times where such an accusation is appallingly accurate. Most new sports entries try something new, even if it’s minor.