Friday, July 1, 2016

RBI Baseball 16 Review (XONE)

The re-birth of R.B.I. Baseball in 2014 was a fun throwback to oldschool sports games.  It wasn’t great, but it was “oldschool” and it was expected that the series would get better, so we put up with it.  Three fully mediocre games into this new R.B.I. Baseball experiment, however, and it isn’t cute and fun anymore.  R.B.I. Baseball 16 hasn’t improved at all over past games and our patience with the series is wearing thin.  See our full review for more.

Game Details

  • Publisher: MLBAM
  • Developer: MLBAM
  • ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
  • Genre: Baseball
  • Pros: Accessible gameplay; sim during season mode; stat tracking; modern fielding controls
  • Cons: Gameplay isn’t improving; reused sound; no Home Run Derby
  • MSRP: $20

To understand why RBI Baseball 16 is such a letdown, you have to understand why the last two games were also sub-par.  RBI 14 was seriously lacking in basic features sports games should have – stat tracking, gameplay modes, etc.  It played sort of okay, at least at the time, though.  RBI 15 added more modes to fill it out to be more like a “real” game, but still didn’t have stat tracking and the gameplay didn’t improve at all. 

Enter RBI 16, and it is the same song, different verse.  Features have actually been added like the ability to simulate games during season mode and stat tracking, which make it far and away a better game than the previous titles as far as features go, but the gameplay still hasn’t changed at all.  What was sort of fun two years ago when the series returned just plain sucks now.  I’m tired of it.  I don’t want to play any more of it.  It isn’t fun.  And I’m still pissed that we don’t have a simple Home Run Derby after three games.  Come on! 

The lack of improvement in the gameplay is such a problem because there have been a number of obvious easily identifiable issues with the games from day 1.  Pitchers run out of stamina at the 5th inning every single game regardless of how many pitches they’ve actually thrown.  Fielders constantly make errors.  The A.I. pitchers constantly hit batters.  Infielders play extremely leaky defense and let way too many grounders through.  Pitchers and batters still comically slide around with no animation when you move them.  Fly balls don’t have any sort of landing indicator, so trying to get into position to actually catch anything is almost impossible (thankfully you can turn on assisted fielding which helps a ton).  The gameplay is bad not just compared to modern baseball standards, but to classic baseball videogames as well. 

The developers have basically just been patching holes in a leaky ship the last two years instead of actually fixing anything.  The game is actually probably worth the $20 asking price as far as content goes, finally, but when the gameplay is so mediocre it doesn’t matter how many features they add.  For this series to survive past the next entry, which I can only assume is coming next Spring, the gameplay desperately needs some love.

The presentation is similarly disappointing.  All 30 real world MLB stadiums were re-created here, and they all look good.  Player models are still ugly and mostly indistinguishable from each other (and look nothing like the real players) and the animation is still very stilted and poor.  It is also incredibly disappointing to hear the exact same music, sound effects, and announcer as the last two games.  Literally, the exact same sound three years in a row.  Pay someone to make a new song, please!

RBI Baseball 16 is undeniably a better game overall than the last two games, but that doesn’t mean it is particularly good.  The feature set keeps filling out and it is almost a complete game this year, but the gameplay desperately needs work.  The presentation also really needs touched up as well.  It is a shame these RBI Baseball games are the only officially licensed MLB baseball games on Xbox One, otherwise they’d be a lot easier to just ignore entirely.  No.  Wait.  They’re pretty easy to ignore anyway.  
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.