R.B.I. Baseball 15 Review (PS4)
Taking classic games and turning them into modern "arcade" titles has been somewhat of a fad the past few years. For the most part -- NBA Jam being the exception -- these efforts have been clear money grabs and the actual games can't measure up to the old efforts if placed side by side.
Unfortunately, R.B.I. Baseball 15 continues that tradition and may be one of the worst sports games of the year.
What a mess.
Last year, the gameplay had several notable flaws including fly balls being a nightmare, pitchers tiring early, and inconsistent control over what should be a simple pitching mechanic.
This year, the gameplay has several notable flaws, including fly balls being a nightmare, pitchers tiring way too early, and inconsistent control over what should be a simple pitching mechanic.
Yes, that means nothing has been done to the gameplay of note for those of you keeping score at home.
Pitching is a complete mystery after playing several games of R.B.I. Baseball 15. It seems that pitchers get tired, so they start throwing super slow — this means that Yu Darvish, Corey Kluber and Justin Verlander throw 69mph fastballs by the fourth or fifth inning. This design decision simply seems to be the wrong one, and there are so many other smarter ways to handle pitchers tiring through the game.
When someone actually makes contact with one of your pitches, you will be treated to the horror show/torture chamber of actually having to play defense in R.B.I. Baseball 15. This crucible is your own, as you zig zag around hoping your player ends up where a fly ball may land — that is assuming the game actually selects the player you are expecting to control. On more than one occasion there would be a ball hit to right field, or on the second base side of the infield, where the game would give you control over the shortstop or center fielder.
Obviously, the center fielder running into left field and the right fielder circling around to back up your center fielder as the ball drops right in front of him makes for a fun baseball experience.
I have also noticed instances where players don’t cover bags when they should. Even worse, there are basic rules of baseball the game sometimes gets wrong. I once had a baserunner who never moved off of the bag (I’m still unsure as to why this happened), and the throw to first resulted in both players being out — whereas the rules state that when the force play at first was executed, the lead runner would be safe because he was no longer forced.
While this is a nitpick, it’s important for baseball fans to see the rules at least applied correctly, much less by a game made by the league itself.
Hitting also seems cumbersome, which I believe is by design. However, after playing several games I’m finding the experience of matching wits with the pitcher to be non-existent. There doesn’t seem to be much more behind it than trying to time when to swing. In reality, I’m not sure if you could make hitting easier because then the game would be too easy — but I also think there’s a reason games moved away from this sort of system in the first place, as it makes a lot of the action feel cheap, almost as if the A.I. is somehow cheating you in some ways.
All in all, there’s no real positive points about the gameplay. Perhaps the best thing is that the ball flights seem a bit better this year — but when you are trying to field those batted balls, it certainly is an adventure in and of itself.
R.B.I. Baseball 15 has added stat tracking to their season mode after last year’s game left it out for whatever reason. So in an attempt to say something positive about the game, it certainly seems to have delivered on that. I haven’t gotten my abacus out to calculate whether the stats are being added up correctly — but it does appear that they are at least functional.
The season mode itself is fine, but there’s not much to it except playing games. Disappointingly, there’s no way to simulate games. As I’ve already mentioned, the thought of playing 162 games of R.B.I. Baseball 15 might not be something many actually attempt as the gameplay simply has some big problems which can’t be overcome.
Online games seem to be functional, although finding games is going to be difficult as its apparent very few people are buying R.B.I.
The playoff mode is one chance at realistically playing towards a goal in the game, but you can’t customize the bracket and are instead forced into last year’s playoffs with any new team being inserted into the Wild Card round.
One good note about this year’s game is the graphical look certainly is better. The stadiums are looking good, player animations are a little better, and player models look more realistic.
However, there are a number of graphical issues even. For starters, the ball simply disappears when a fielder fields it — as if there’s a proximity detector and no animation to fit the ball's location. This is the type of corner-cutting that really doesn’t help me think this game is nothing more than a blatant cash grab done at the minimum effort to get it out the door.
What was claimed to be a fun and accessible game actually is nothing like that. I would argue that the deeper, realistic MLB 15 The Show is more accessible and certainly more fun than R.B.I. Baseball 15.
Last year, I said R.B.I. Baseball was a overpriced and under-featured game. Nothing has changed that this year. Despite the additions of stat-tracking and online play, the gameplay hasn’t moved forward — meaning there’s no compelling reason to buy this game.
R.B.I. Baseball 15 isn’t a fun trip into nostalgia. At this point it's doing more harm to the legacy of a once proud series than anything. Even at a significant price drop, this game isn’t worth your time. Avoid it like the plague.
Score: 3.0 (Subpar)