R.B.I. Baseball 2016 Review (XONE)

Still Partying Like Its 1992 - That's a Bad Thing

RBI Baseball 16 screen
RBI Baseball 16 screen 1. MLBAM

Buy RBI Baseball 2016 at Amazon.com

With R.B.I. Baseball 2016, Major League Baseball Advanced Media’s R.B.I. Baseball experiment is now three games deep.  Three fairly mediocre, shallow, lacking in features, poorly presented games deep.  Similar to how my beloved Seattle Mariners always look great on paper and then struggle through a sub-par season, R.B.I. Baseball always sounds like a good idea until you actually play it.

  We excused the rough edges of the first game because it was the re-birth of the franchise from untested developers.  The second game was marginally better, but full of glitches.  By the third game, though, we came in expecting some actual improvement.  R.B.I. Baseball can’t just coast on nostalgia forever.  At some point these games need to actually be good, or at least show some improvement year over year, but they haven’t.    

Game Details

  • Publisher:  MLBAM
  • Developer: MLBAM
  • ESRB Rating: “E" for Everyone
  • Genre: Baseball
  • Pros:  Accessible gameplay; sim games in season mode; modern fielding controls; stadiums look nice; stat tracking
  • Cons:  No Home Run Derby; same sound as last 2 games; gameplay isn’t really improving

Features

As far as features go, R.B.I. Baseball 2016 is mostly the same as last year, but with one major improvement – you can actually simulate games in season mode rather than having to play them all.

  This is kind of huge and very appreciated.  There is still no stand alone Home Run Derby, which I’ve been requesting for three years now, but at least the game does finally have most of the standard features you expect form a sports game – full rosters, stat tracking, game simulations, roster adjustments, etc., which does put it well ahead of how the game originally re-appeared in 2014 and maybe actually worth the $20 asking price.

 

Gameplay

While the feature set has been getting better, the gameplay has remained fairly stagnant with the same complaints we had in 2014 and 2015 still being present here.  Pitchers still inexplicably lose their stuff by the 5th inning regardless of how many pitches they have actually thrown.  Fielders still regularly make errors on plays they shouldn’t be able to screw up under any circumstances.  The CPU pitchers still hit multiple batters in every single game.  Infielders still have extremely leaky defense and let way too many grounders through.  Pitchers and batters still comically just slide around when you move them.  Fly balls still don’t have a landing indicator, just their current position, which makes trying to actually get under them and catch them extremely difficult.  Thankfully, the assisted fielding option works well (so you don’t have to worry about getting into position), and being able to turn on modern controls for throwing (the four face buttons represent the four bases) is appreciated.

The gameplay overall is just dull, though.  MLBAM has spent the last couple of years mostly just plugging holes in a leaky ship by adding features that should have been there in the first place and fixing the biggest and most glaring glitches and issues, but the gameplay hasn’t changed.

  The series has been celebrated for bringing back simple arcade-style gameplay, but it was only ever “OK” to begin with and after playing the same for three games now the gameplay really needs some love. 

Graphics & Sound

The presentation is a bit up and down.  The 30 real world MLB stadiums in the game have gotten a real face-lift and actually look pretty darn good this year.  The players are still ugly and mostly indistinguishable from each other, however, and the animation is either incredibly stilted or nonexistent.  I was also incredibly disappointed to hear the same exact music and announcer as the last two games used here once again.

  Pay someone to make a new song!  Please!

Bottom Line

There is no doubt that R.B.I. Baseball 2016 is a much better game overall than when the series made its return a couple of years ago, but it still isn’t particularly good.  The feature set keeps getting a bit fuller each year to the point it is almost a complete game now, but the gameplay and presentation are lagging far behind and are both in need of serious work.  R.B.I. 2014 was a cute throwback to a simpler (and arguably more fun) time, but at some point these games need actually be good and not just rely on nostalgia.  It is the only Major League Baseball game on Xbox One, which makes it tempting if you’re desperate, but I can’t really recommend R.B.I. Baseball 2016.  

Buy RBI Baseball 2016 at Amazon.com