R.B.I. Baseball 2015 Review (XONE)

RBI15sc1.jpg
RBI Baseball 2015 screen 1. MLBAM

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R.B.I. Baseball's return in 2014 nailed the oldschool feel of the gameplay, but the feature set left quite a bit to be desired.  Now Major League Baseball Advanced Media is back again a year later with R.B.I. Baseball 2015 and a much more fully-featured experience to back up the solid on-field play.  It is hard not to be impressed with how they really listened to the criticisms and feedback from fans and applied it this year to make the game a lot better.

  There are still some kinks that need worked out, but overall R.B.I. Baseball 2015 is worth a look for baseball fans on Xbox One (and not just because we don't have any other option).  See our review for more.

Game Details

  • Publisher:  MLBAM
  • Developer: MLBAM
  • ESRB Rating: “E" for Everyone
  • Genre: Baseball
  • Pros:  Fun, fast paced gameplay; much better presentation than last year; stat tracking; online play
  • Cons:  Wonky A.I.; pitcher stamina; no home run derby

Features

Last year's R.B.I. Baseball 2014 was pretty flat, feature-wise.  It didn't have full rosters or stat tracking or online play or a lot of other things fans have come to expect from modern sports games.  To be fair, it was true to the features classically found in the R.B.I. Baseball franchise, which was MLBAM's intent, but fans expect more these days. 

Thankfully, MLBAM listened to the fans and added in pretty much everything people asked for.

  Full 25-man rosters, full stat tracking throughout a season, online multiplayer, much improved presentation including pretty decent versions of all 30 MLB stadiums, difficulty options, and more.  There's still no stand-alone Home Run Derby mode, but there's always next year for that.  At least we can play a full season with all of the players with full stat tracking, which is huge.

  You can't sim games, which is annoying but not a huge negative, though it does make playing through a full 162-game season a big time investment.  Games still only take a little over 20-minutes, though, so they go by pretty fast.

Gameplay

The gameplay is still the same simple two-button setup as before, and is just as easy and accessible as the franchise has ever been.  I have to admit that I prefer a simpler, arcade-style baseball game over a simulation, so the gameplay is right up my alley.  There are a lot of little quirks and issues that kept popping up as I played, however, which were disappointing. 

Things such as pitchers only lasting, maybe, 4-5 innings before they totally lose their stuff.  Trying to pitch a complete game (to get an Achievement) is painful by the end because your pitcher only throws 60MPH and has no movement at all anymore by the 7th.  I also had repeated issues with the A.I..  The A.I. pitchers hit batters way, way, way too often.  There are also a lot of weird fielding errors and issues.  Outfielders will just herp derp out of nowhere and drop balls.  Infielders, particularly the SS and 2B, will just casually let grounders roll slowly up the middle all day.

  Pitchers make no plays on balls hit directly at them.  There were also multiple occasions where a CPU player would field the ball and then not throw it.  They'd just hold onto it.  It has to be noted that most of these problems didn't really affect my team (using manual or assisted fielding were both reasonably fine) but the CPU teams are just a comedy of errors no matter which difficulty setting I tried.   I did have one instance, however, where the game locked up entirely when one of my players caught a ball, but the game wouldn't let me throw it. 

Now, with all of that said, the game is still pretty fun to play in spite of itself.

  Even with the laundry list of issues I ran into, I kept playing because the basics of hitting and fielding are still a ton of fun even if the CPU teams are bad.  Playing multiplayer, either locally or online, tightens things up quite a bit and is more enjoyable, of course. 

Graphics & Sound

The presentation is a lot better than last year's entry.  It still doesn't look great, not by any means, but it looks decent enough.  All 30 MLB stadiums are included and are recognizable enough.  Player models are greatly improved and actually look different from each other.  The animation is also a lot better, though still pretty stiff.  It is a lot better looking overall than the N64-era player models with NES-era animation I described R.B.I. 2014 as.  Still not up to current-gen (or even Xbox 360) standards, but more than good enough to be playable.  The sound didn't see much improvement, unfortunately, as the game still uses the same music from last time.

Bottom Line

All in all, R.B.I. Baseball 2015 is a big improvement over R.B.I. 2014, but it still has a ways to go.  The feature set is filling in nicely, the presentation is improved, and the core gameplay is solid, but little quirks and kinks sour the overall experience a bit.  Still a ton of fun, but it's hard to ignore the glitches and bad A.I..  It is $20, just like last year's game, but offers a lot more features and better presentation to make it closer to actually being worth that price.  Unfortunately, there aren't any other baseball games on Xbox One this year (2K's MLB series is gone, and no one else is stepping up), so R.B.I. Baseball 2015 is all we've got.  It's hard to argue baseball fans won't get $20 worth of fun out of it, so give it a try.