Last year, the revival of R.B.I. Baseball didn't quite go as according to plan. Clunky controls, limited rosters, and muddy graphics failed to impress those who jumped back into the franchise. I gave the game a shot and came away mostly disappointed. While I appreciated what the team was going for, the execution was anything but perfect. After taking fan's feedback, R.B.I. Baseball 15 is the result of various tweaks and revisions. Has the game improved based on the feedback from last year or is this another strikeout?
The presentation has improved slightly with brighter graphics and actual ballparks. The character models are slightly better than last year and still contain that cartoonish look that vaguely resembles the real players. Considering RBI Baseball 15 is an arcade style of game, goofy character models shouldn't be taken seriously. Still, they look unimpressive even with being on a console as powerful as the Xbox One. I pointed out in last year's version that while the dimensions of the ball parks resembled their real counterparts, there was nothing to be seen of the actual stadiums themselves. I was pleasantly surprised to see that all 32 stadiums have been included with a small amount of detail. You are not going to find MLB The Show kind of attention to detail, but the stadiums are presented well enough to provide the feel of that location.
The new view for pitching/batting has the camera facing the outfield, so you will get a nice view of the stadium with every at-bat. The animation could use some work, as players can look really stiff sometimes. Again, while the original game on Nintendo did not have the best animation, you could blame that on hardware limitations. My enjoyment of the game started to dissipate when I kept seeing the choppy animations over and over again. It is another problem still present from last year that went unnoticed.
Pitching and hitting mechanics did not seem to have changed much, which is a good thing. Holding the left stick back or forward is supposed to result in more fly balls/ground balls but I did not really notice a difference. However hitting is still fun and trying to strike out hitters can be challenging. Larger rosters also means having more pitchers available. You will use them often as they do not seem to last very long, at least effectively. Stamina bars can be shown with the press of a button, but they almost feel a little useless. It is easy to tell when a pitcher is tired as the speed of his pitches decrease dramatically.
Where the game falls apart again is the fielding. Players still seem to move too slow, making catching fast moving fly balls more frustrating than they ever should be. The camera has been lowered, but it almost makes fielding balls in the outfield worse. Countless times I have taken position to catch the ball only to have it fall behind me just a few feet for an extra base hit. Getting a beat on where the ball will land feels worse than 2014's iteration, something I did not think could be possible. Fielders still dive and jump at their own discretion and is incredibly inconsistent. It is incredibly frustrating to watch a fielder not make a dive for a ball 2 feet from them, but sprawl out for a line drive five feet away. You are completely at the mercy of whether the fielder wants to make an extra effort which could have been done with a button press.
The A.I. does not help the above issue with a Tony Gwinn esque hitting ability. I certainly do not mind challenge, but when it seems the computer hits gap shots and long fly balls too often it feels a little uneven. Show your outfielders some mercy and change your pitcher at the first sign of fatigue.
I really wanted to enjoy R.B.I. Baseball 15, I really did. It is far from a bad game, but disappointing at best. The developers listened and made some changes that needed to be corrected but left the most significant ones in this year's version. The stadiums look nice and expanded rosters are nice, but the choppy animations and sluggish fielding brings the experience down. I tried to check out online play, but unfortunately I had no one to play against. R.B.I Baseball 15 made some improvements but needs to be sent down to the minors to work on a few consistent problems before it is ready for prime time.
+ Bigger Rosters
+ Stadiums are pleasantly nice
- Fielding is frustrating
- A.I. hitters is unbalanced
- Graphics are so-so, animation is choppy & stiff
Total Time: 8 hours+
Played on Xbox One (Also available on PC, PS4, iOS, and Android)