The Final Countdown: MLB 2K13

MLB 2K13 Screenshot - 1138959

Welcome to The Final Countdown, GameZone's newest series where we get hyped about games that are just around the corner! With only a week to go, we're counting down the hours, and the reasons you should be excited (or worried) about upcoming major releases.

It's one week until MLB 2K13 launches for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles. Considering that there almost wasn't another Major League Baseball game outside of MLB The Show 13, there isn't much known about MLB 2K13. Hell, we just got the first official trailer for 2K's baseball game a few days ago. A lot of the sentiment around the game is that it's just going to be MLB 2K12 but with updated rosters.

2K Sports reached an agreement with Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media on January 9, 2013 to bring the game to both consoles on March 5, 2013. It was expected that the MLB 2K series was going to retire after a semi-exclusive pact between 2K Sports and MLB expired. However, the deal was renewed with more favorable terms for 2K Sports. Since 2006, 2K Sports has been the only third-party publisher of Major League Baseball video games -- which allowed Sony to publish MLB the Show. While previous editions were available for other platforms -- from PC to the Nintendo DS -- MLB 2K13 will only be on 360 and PS3. 

The series has been losing money for 2K Sports, and in 2012, the general consensus was that 2K12 was going to be the last of the series. The deal renewal is most likely due to the realization that Major League Baseball wouldn't have a video game available on the Xbox 360 without 2K Sports. EA expressed no desire to return to make baseball games; EA Sports MVP Baseball series ended in 2005 with 2K's deal. 

That leaves us with this year's MLB 2K13​, developed by Visual Concepts (developer of the series since 2K9). There's not a ton of information on any new features, and even 2K Sports' website for the game looks barren, but here's the breakdowns on what we know:

Perfect Game Challenge is back, but different

One of the things MLB 2K13 is most known for is the $1,000,000 Perfect Game Challenge. In previous years, this was awarded to the first person to pitch a perfect game on the hardest difficulty using a real pitching match-up that day. This year, things have changed a bit. The contest kicks off April 1, almost a month after the game releases. The money this year will have players competing for a prize pool of $750,000 across 30 MLB Team Leaderboards. $25,000 will be awarded for each team's top score, with leaderboard scores ranked based on the team/pitcher used to achieve a perfect game. The top four finalists will be invited to New York during the MLB All-Star Week in July to compete for a grand prize of $250,000.

mlb 2k13 perfect game challenge

I for one like the change; it's going to have people trying to pitch perfect games longer, instead of just stopping after a winner is found. I know I'll try to compete harder this year.

The core of MLB 2K12 returns

My Player mode returns, where you create a minor league player and take him from prospect to MLB All-star. You choose your path and customize your player, his skill attributes and position as you climb your organization's charts. Note: It'll probably be easiest to do this on the Houston Astros, New York Mets and Miami Marlins -- but don't expect Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria to ever pay you. MLB Today brings an authentic environment to the game, pulled right from the real MLB season. It feature the latest rosters and lineups, as well as relevant commentary and stats overlays.

MLB Today Season lets you play through the full 2013 MLB season, one day at a time. It combines real results with yours, allowing you to compete directly with real life MLB teams. Dynamic Tendencies are still around, where your player performance fluctuates as player ratings update from pitch to pitch and at-bat to at-bat. Inside Edge and Stats Inc. is another staple feature of the 2K series that returns. It allows you to strategize for each at-bat with authentic scouting reports and data. Other modes returning are Postseason, Home Run Derby, and Franchise -- where you control the whole front office and the team on the field, and try to build a dynasty.

Total Control Pitching & Hitting are totally the same

If it's not broke, don't fix it, right? The MLB 2K series is known for its Total Control Pitching and Hitting, which utilizes the analog sticks to perform both actions. While hitting is a bit iffy, and quite difficult, Total Control shines for pitching. It has you locate your pitch and mimic a certain joystick motion to throw a certain pitch. A fastball might be down, up on the right analog stick, while a curveball will have you go down with a clockwise rotation all the way to the top. It's a brilliant pitching mechanic that let's the player really feel in control of each outcome -- and it's the one feature that MLB 13 The Show can't compete with.

Revolutionary additions? Look somewhere else...

Since this game came out of nowhere, it doesn't look like there's going to be any new features. Obviously, the rosters will be updated. As you saw in the trailer above, Manny Machado is in the game on the Orioles, and the Houston Astros have moved into the American League. The in-game experience might change a little, and gameplay does look smoother, but again, that's just a trailer. With no new features, 2K Sports has to convince people that this game is more than just a roster update. However, if the game just plays better than the last few versions, then it's already a big improvement. Cleaning up animations and framerates can go a long way towards MLB 2K13's success.

You can follow Senior Editor Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ. He likes talking sports, video games, movies, and the stupidity of celebrities. Email at LLiebl@GameZone.com

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Lance Liebl Gamer, Disney enthusiast, opinionated sports fan, movie buff, and a father of two. You can follow Lance on Twitter @Lance_GZ.
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