MLB 13: The Show scores; MLB 2K13 strikes out

A screen shot showing the Detroit Tigers vs. the Cleveland Indians from MLB 13: The Show.
A screen shot showing the Detroit Tigers vs. the Cleveland Indians from MLB 13: The Show.

I often reread previous reviews when tackling a yearly franchise to check on any significant improvements in the new iteration. It's a difficult challenge for developers, considering the short window of time to churn out new features, so I rarely go in expecting life-altering adjustments.

Thankfully, The Show has delivered a well-rounded baseball experience for the last several years, making it less necessary to do massive overhauls. Subtle tweaks here and there suffice to continue the franchise's reign as the best on-the-diamond video game around.

You'll notice the game's enhancements most when stepping up to the plate. I'm no baseball guru, so I judge based on how easily I can knock a ball into the outfield. I'm not asking for 14-11 games each time out, but even the most casual gamer will see that as a simulation experience, The Show remains accessible.

Visual improvements come pretty standard with each year's release, and I imagine those and the enhanced audio around the ballparks account for why the game endures some frustratingly lengthy load times. Thankfully, once you get to play, especially in the Road to the Show mode, everything runs smoothly and crisply. This career mode remains one of the most stellar in any sports game and is a must-play for anyone looking to rise from nobody to Cooperstown entrant.

This continues to be a series worth the money for the latest edition.

I'm a gamer by night, but by day I toil away in the land of graphic design. I say this because I think MLB 2K13 might be the perfect chance for those two worlds to collide.

I believe I could take the 2K11 game cover, design a new one with 13 replacing 11, and give it to my baseball-addicted friend Mike and see if he notices a difference. I don't think my trick would register.

This underscores the serious problem facing 2K Sports with its baseball franchise. We're now three releases in a row with hardly any major alterations or upgrades, which means loyal gamers are shelling out $60 every year for a game that basically has updated stadiums and lineups and little else. 

The pitching mechanics remain tried and true, so leaving those intact makes sense. Hitting the ball doesn't take Miguel Cabrera-like skill now, so even casual gamers should find the ability to get hits and drive in runs.

The My Player mode, like everything else, is relatively unchanged from previous editions, and is probably the only thing worth playing on the entire disk.

2K should consider retooling this franchise. Making it a more accessible arcade-inspired game could work, or it could invest deeply in remaking it to better compete with the simulation style that The Show has not yet perfected. Either that, or gamers could soon see 2K drop out altogether, leaving Sony by itself.