R.B.I. Baseball 14 Review
R.B.I. Baseball 14 is a wonderful trip down nostalgia lane, with classic gameplay straight out of the old console eras. You’ll find a lot to love early on about the game, but if you give it the time of day — you’ll find that the totality of the experience leaves you with little desire to continue playing.
My first games with R.B.I. were a mixture of intrigue and frustration. There are some serious gaffes within the on-field gameplay which can make it a frustrating experience to play. These are gaffes which we might have overlooked in the early ‘90s, but in 2014 these are nothing short of design flaws.
The first major problem is that any ball hit into the outfield is an instant adventure. With no way to see your outfielder on many plays, and with an overall slow fielder speed, you see a horror show play out in real time where you are merely trying to guess where your player is in relation to the ball. It’s even worse when you take into account that judging where the ball will land is oftentimes a not so easy task.
Overall, fielding is a mess even outside of that. I found the best option is to just turn fielding on automatic — since the AI already does many things for you already. Any line drives hit into the outfield which are not exactly to your outfielders will be automatic base hits — every … single … time.
Another problem I found were the inconsistent pitcher controls. It’s hard to tell what the point of not being able to throw the exact pitch (slow, medium, or fast in R.B.I. Baseball 14 terms), but there was a very inconsistent pattern when it came to pitching. I did notice the more talented pitchers would respond better to your commands, but this aspect of the gameplay felt more annoying than it did an attempt at realism.
The third, and perhaps most egregious problem within R.B.I. Baseball 14, is the simple fact the game does not track your statistical progress through a season. By picking season mode, the only thing you will have tracked for your team are wins and losses. Why such a basic and simple tenant of sports gaming was not put into this game is a difficult question to answer.
My biggest beef with R.B.I. Baseball 14 is that a lot of what happens on the field is outside of your control, which goes against what sports gaming has become. In fact, I had feelings of being jipped by the computer A.I. that I haven’t felt since we put the family SNES into retirement two decades ago.
Good news does await those who are willing to forgive the flaws within the gameplay. I personally found the base running controls in R.B.I. Baseball 14 to be amongst the best I have ever gotten to use — my only complaint, and it is a big one, is that the steal command sends all runners without the option to send just one.
The game’s main game modes are Exhibition, Post-Season and Season — and with no stat tracking the latter two modes are more or less a more structured version of exhibition mode. There’s not much to keep you playing 162 games, which is fine as you likely won’t get a full season in.
Rosters for each team are truncated, with only a select few bench players available and four pitchers per team. With three player model types, you won’t find much to differentiate between players anyways. While the attempt at a nostalgic take on sports gaming is fine, one can’t help but wonder what an attempt to blend the classic days of gaming with modern approaches like accurate player models, full rosters, and stat tracking.
We will be waiting awhile longer to find out.
R.B.I. Baseball 14 suffers from a simple problem: it’s overpriced and under-featured. Had the game shipped with a much lower price tag, what is offered here is actually OK. However, there is nothing here to justify a $20 price tag. No online play, no stat tracking, no feedback or ways to tell how the game actually works means you are left in the dark about your baseball experience.
It is in that sense that R.B.I. Baseball 14 unnecessarily cuts corners which should have never been cut. There is a reason sports games have evolved over the past two decades, and a nostalgic experience doesn’t have to completely tear down the basic tenants of what we have come to expect from video games. You can offer online play and still have a nostalgic experience. You can still offer stat tracking and full rosters without sacrificing the fun factor a nostalgic experience could have.
At the end of the day, R.B.I. baseball is an overpriced, under-featured game. There are so many corners cut within the game that, at $20, I have no compelling reason to recommend this game to any baseball fan of any type.
Score: 3.5 (Bad)