Gaming is a strange beast, isn’t it?
Sometimes you have a great series that just improves year after year (did I say The Show?), and sometimes you have a franchise that seems to repeat itself in circles.
R.B.I. Baseball clearly belongs to the second category.
The game features official MLB licensing — real teams, players, and graphics — and is available on multiple platforms.
There isn’t much new here, much like the rest of the game. You can play exhibition games, seasons (shortened or regular), and postseasons. In RBI’s defense, though, it’s not like we could realistically expect any novelty for the fourth installment of the series, especially from a game of this price tag.
At a first look, you won’t recognize any difference from the last year’s title. But more than likely, you still won’t notice after a second look either.
The game features okay graphics, although you should expect better from a 2017 title. This is most likely a way to balance the gaming experience on both consoles and mobile devices, but no one is going to get blown away by the game’s graphics.
The game lacks any real animations. MLBAM, the developer behind the game, should have tried harder to make it more aesthetically pleasing, especially for an arcade game like R.B.I. Baseball 17.
The last couple of installments were rather buggy with some rules not well represented or clearly implemented wrongly.
The 17 edition is not bug-free, but the game seems to flow a little bit better this year. I have encountered a couple of glitches in the way the game counted strikes, balls and the like, but while this is certainly annoying, I have to say that no result would have changed in my games.
Was I lucky? Perhaps.
The gameplay in itself is as arcade-ish as you’d expect from a title like this. You can do pretty much everything with a couple of keys on your controller. It’s a kind of a “plug-and-play” game, for the ones who don’t know the franchise, and this hasn’t changed for 17.
It may be a fun game if you just want to play some ball without having to think too much, but in this case you shouldn’t set your expectations too high. Talking more about gameplay glitches, sometimes players dive down to catch a flying ball even if they are some twenty feet away; of course not catching anything and losing precious seconds.
There isn’t much to compromise here: you’ve got to like simple arcade games. Otherwise, you should better focus on other baseball titles.
Another problem is that apart from appearance and statistics, it’s hard to differentiate players too much. Most of the pitchers will throw at 85-95 mph, and batting is rather hard and requires a very good timing no matter the player you are using.
All in all, the game is not that bad, but you need to take it into the right prospect. It’s an arcade game, focused on giving its players a fast experience with real teams and players. It’s not a rival to The Show, nor does it try to come off as one.
The graphics aren’t on par with the modern era of video games, and it looks more like a mobile game ported to the consoles rather than the other way around. The game can be recommended only to those who don’t intend to buy a PS4 to get The Show, and are interested in a simpler gaming experience while also wanting to enjoy playing with their favorite MLB team or players. Or perhaps it’s a game best suited for younger players.
Final Score: 5.5/10
R.B.I. Baseball 17 is available for PS4, Xbox (at $19.99), and iOS devices ($4.99). It is not available on Steam, differently from the latest two installments. International prices may vary.
[Disclaimer: The copy was reviewed on an Xbox One S. The author was given a review code.]