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OS Scores Explained R.B.I. Baseball 16 Overview
Pros
Believable ball physics & hit variety; Fast-paced matches; Human vs. human games are entertaining; Enjoyable (albeit limited) organ music
Cons
Few modes & small feature set; below average visuals & animations; Poor online performance; Computer isn't much fun to play
Bottom Line
R.B.I. Baseball 16 still feels like an overpriced, mobile-quality game that's lacking features. An easy pass even if you are a baseball fan
4
out of 10
R.B.I. Baseball 16 REVIEW

R.B.I. Baseball 16 Review


If R.B.I. Baseball were a Major League batter, it would've just swung and missed on its third consecutive strike. Developer MLB Advanced Media has now had three opportunities to put out an arcade-style baseball game on the Xbox One that's worth a $20 download, but even working with successful The Golf Club creators HB Studios for two straight seasons has not helped to make this franchise's comeback attempt a modern hit.

Many basic, expected features remain missing from R.B.I. Baseball 16, such as customizable controls, roster editing, free agency, trades, drafts, player progression and retirement. Most of those features have existed in baseball games as far back as the Super Nintendo, or at least, as early as the Nintendo 64.

"Many basic, expected features remain missing from R.B.I. Baseball 16, such as customizable controls, roster editing, free agency, trades, drafts, player progression and retirement."

R.B.I. Baseball's main competitor on Xbox One, the unlicensed Super Mega Baseball, arguably offers a deeper overall game, even though only three full-time contributors worked on that project. Konami's Power Pros series, which debuts on the PlayStation 4 in April, also had more stuff crammed onto its PlayStation 2 DVDs than R.B.I. Baseball 16 managed to fit into its 4.32 GB file, which I'd assume mostly consists of the textures and models for all 30 of its PlayStation 3-quality stadiums. That space certainly is not being taken up by audio files, since there's no play-by-play commentary, a good (albeit small) selection of organ music and an annoying four-second guitar riff that repeats every half inning.

Even after two sequels, R.B.I. Baseball 16 still struggles to check half the list of "things a sports game should have" in 2016. It's got the usual Exhibition and Postseason options. There's a single-team, multi-season mode, but it contains no farm system, and it offers no roster management other than moving players up/down your order and to/from your bench. Online play is available, but even on opening night, I was waiting between five and 15 minutes per match to find an opponent. Two of those games were so laggy the Xbox One booted me out mid-match. The third game went the full nine innings, but it, too, was noticeably laggy. Statistical leaderboards do track your online performance, if you really want to see how you compare to other R.B.I. Baseball 16 owners like "Creeper Lord 29" and "Save Us Trump."


If R.B.I. Baseball 16 had strong core gameplay, then most fans could probably overlook the lack of supporting features. But on the diamond, this game does not offer anything you can't find at your local flea market in the rows of dusty cartridges that cost 99 cents. Fielding on the default setting with the slow-moving ball landing area causes too many unnecessary errors, especially in the outfield. For some unexplained reason, there's no way to turn on the static ball landing target during online play, so expect to see lots of dumb outfield errors online, unless MLB Advanced Media decides to patch the stationary landing area option into the game at a later time.

Pitchers in R.B.I. Baseball 16 can pick from three throwing speeds: slow, medium and fast. Medium burns the least stamina; if you only use slow and fast pitches, your starter will probably be tired by about the fifth inning. Pitching more conservatively and saving your "best stuff" for the counts where you really need them usually allows your starter to last about seven innings before needing a reliever. Human opponents tend to crush fatigued pitchers, but against the computer, tired starters can miraculously keep going well past their expiration point without much damage being done to their health or to their team's runs allowed total. In one Season mode game against the computer, I kept R.A. Dickey on the mound for 14 innings and somehow managed to surrender only three runs while striking out 17 AI batters.


Hitting is based on timing and distancing your swing so the ball strikes your bat's sweet spot. But R.B.I. Baseball 16 provides zero on-screen feedback to help identify the sweet spot and when exactly you should be swinging. So expect to strike out, ground out and fly out a lot until you figure out the correct timing and spacing.

The batter and the pitcher can also make significant lateral adjustments while the ball is still traveling towards home plate, which makes me wonder why R.B.I. Baseball 16 uses joystick commands to determine your swing type -- you tilt up for a grounder and tug down for extra power. Your batter is usually squirming around until the last possible millisecond before swinging, so a smarter control scheme would have placed the different swing types on the face buttons: X for neutral, A for power, Y for grounder and B for bunt.

"...you'll have to get used to awkwardly tapping the left and right bumpers for baserunning and cutoff throws..."

R.B.I. Baseball 16's controls are not configurable at all, so you'll have to get used to awkwardly tapping the left and right bumpers for baserunning and cutoff throws, since there's no way to remap those buttons to the more comfortable left and right triggers. There is not even an option for manually controlled diving and jumping, as both of those animations will trigger automatically whenever your fielder is in range of an oncoming ball. Automated dives/jumps might have been a good idea if they consistently produced positive results, but in my three days playing the game, they've actually caused more errors than outs.

 
Final Thoughts

Since the online play is so troubled, and the computer is such a predictable opponent, the only enjoyable way to play R.B.I. Baseball 16 is with some local competition (local co-op, unfortunately, is not an option). But those fun moments the game generates are not because R.B.I. Baseball 16 does anything particularly well, but because most video games -- even your Barkley Shut Up and Jams or Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketballs -- provide some basic level of entertainment while going at a buddy.

If you don't have somebody who can sit with you on the couch and joke about how far behind the R.B.I. Baseball series is compared to its competitors, then consider putting your $20 towards a used copy of Power Pros or a digital download of Super Mega Baseball.

Score: 4.0 (Below Average)

 


R.B.I. Baseball 16 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 josephid @ 04/02/16 07:30 PM
Could have been a great game if they let you edit more. Especially players names, numbers and so on. Create a team and so on. That is what gamers want. Besides that the game play is simple and great.
 
# 2 Diehardfan @ 04/03/16 06:52 AM
Good Lord....this game is antiquated junk. The 27 year old NES Baseball Stars was a better game.
 
# 3 KennyJ1976 @ 04/03/16 04:36 PM
I wonder if that guy from MLBAM will comment on this review? Man this game is trash. 3 years and they still can't get it right.
 
# 4 JStapley @ 04/04/16 01:53 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diehardfan
Good Lord....this game is antiquated junk. The 27 year old NES Baseball Stars was a better game.
Man, I loved that game. If all they did was port that thing over for $20 I'd probably pay it.
 
# 5 jyoung @ 04/04/16 12:59 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by JStapley
Man, I loved that game. If all they did was port that thing over for $20 I'd probably pay it.
The arcade versions of Baseball Stars and Baseball Stars 2 are up for download on the PlayStation Network, but those are very different games from the NES versions.

Super Mega Baseball is a pretty good modern take on Baseball Stars' player progression concept. Definitely check that game out on Xbox One/PS4/PC if you haven't already.
 
# 6 MLBGames @ 04/04/16 01:42 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by KennyJ1976
I wonder if that guy from MLBAM will comment on this review?
We're here. And we are aware that many people would like deep franchise features. As stated on the other thread, we felt gameplay still warranted the bulk of our attention for this iteration. And we feel we delivered on that front, with much improved gameplay in 16 and a better underlying system to build on for the future.
 
# 7 Twigg4075 @ 04/19/16 09:49 AM
I actually reviewed '15 for another site and game it an 8/10 I think. I'm fully aware I'm in the minority but I really enjoyed the game. It has quite a few bugs and glitches but the gameplay itself was solid and a lot of fun.

So far I think this year's is about the same but I think there seems to be a lot less offense this year, which I'm not a big fan of.
 
# 8 DickDalewood @ 04/24/16 07:15 PM
I would honestly give this game closer to a 6 or 7. The fun is in its simplicity and propensity for pickup and play. I already have The Show for my in-depth franchise and gameplay. Right now this title has the perfect balance of arcade fun and JUST enough depth in rosters and modes. To be honest, I don't know if I would own it otherwise. As it stands, I own it on both PS4 and iOS.

Now, give me a way to carry over seasons between those two devices and you'd be on to something.
 
# 9 Chris200000 @ 04/29/16 05:04 PM
can you create teams and players?
 
# 10 jyoung @ 04/29/16 06:51 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris200000
can you create teams and players?
There's no roster editing aside from moving your players up and down the order and moving them to/from the bench.
 
# 11 MLBGames @ 05/03/16 08:36 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by jyoung
There's no roster editing aside from moving your players up and down the order and moving them to/from the bench.
You can also move them between the Active 25-man and the "Reserves", which is the rest of the 40-man roster + 60-day DL who are eligible to be in the game via the MLBPA license.
 
# 12 Twigg4075 @ 05/03/16 01:21 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by MLBGames
You can also move them between the Active 25-man and the "Reserves", which is the rest of the 40-man roster + 60-day DL who are eligible to be in the game via the MLBPA license.
Speaking of the DL, maybe you guys could add injuries next year? It would be cool to have to juggle your roster after a player goes down with an injury.
 
# 13 johnnydangerously @ 05/04/16 12:16 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg4075
Speaking of the DL, maybe you guys could add injuries next year? It would be cool to have to juggle your roster after a player goes down with an injury.
I kind of like this idea. Make it very arcade-like.

INJURIES : ON / OFF

And the duration of an injury could be in number of games lost (the injury itself doesn’t even need any specificity, simply “David Wright injured for 7 games”).

What would be a realistic-but-balanced-and-still-fun random chance of an injury? 1 in 100? (9 players per game, 10 with DH = roughly one player injured every 10 games)

How would the game present the injury to the player? During a game, so we’d have to replace him on the spot? After a game? Before?

This would add some interesting depth but, then again, there would have to be some pretty good CPU logic for the other 29 teams to realistically/intelligently substitute for injured players.

The alternative would be for a Pro Evolution Soccer style “player form” mechanic, with the ⬆️ ↗️ ➡️ ↘️ ⬇️ symbols to indicate a player’s condition, but this would also introduce the complexity of variable player ratings (speed, contact, etc.) to the game.
 

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