When it comes to baseball games, any PlayStation gamer knows that the King of the Diamond is MLB: The Show. But way back in 1986, a little game developed by Namco called R.B.I. Baseball was the first to use licensed player names. The last year to see a release in the franchise was 1995. After a rest of 19 years, the series returned with R.B.I. Baseball 2014. Now, it’s developed and published by MLB.com, and features much of the same staple gameplay mechanics. Evidently the first remake sold well enough to warrant a sequel, and here we are with R.B.I. Baseball 2015. It has to be asked, however: with a cheaper price tag, does this also equate to a cheaper experience?
Simple’s the name of the game with R.B.I. Baseball 2015. Let’s start with game modes. There are four — Exhibition, Season, Postseason, and Online. If you’ve never played a baseball game before, I’ll explain. Exhibition mode is a single game of baseball, featuring two teams pitted against one another of your choosing. You can choose whether to use a full roster of 25 or 16 players, anywhere from 1-9 innings, whether to enable the mercy rule or not, the time of day, and the control scheme. These tweakable options generally apply to the other game modes, as well. There are no options for umpire attitudes, strike zone strictness, or other settings you’d expect in a simulation game, because R.B.I. is both a budget and arcade game.
Although this is a budget title, it is a fully MLB-licensed product. So rather than playing ball with made up teams and players, you can actually play as your favorite real-life team(s). That’s a steal considering the price range. Unfortunately, while players have their photos in their avatars, character models are pretty generic. Presentation in R.B.I. Baseball 2015 is very underwhelming. The camera is set to a static height, and it only changes if you hit a home run. There are no replays, so if you made a particularly astounding play (like my triple play from last night), your only option to save the moment is to use the PS4’s built-in recording functionality.
RBI Baseball 2015 Review - PlayStation LifeStyle (PS4)
As long as you keep in mind the fact that R.B.I Baseball 2015 is a budget title, then perhaps your expectations won’t be let down. The thing about R.B.I., though, is that you’re constantly reminded that this is a budget game. There is not much more to experience in the game once you’ve run through a single 9-inning outing. There’s a very short introductory audio track played when a game begins, along with an accompanying graphics, and the stadium announcer shouts “play ball!” A generic crowd track plays in the background, and they get excited on any sort of play. Occasionally you’ll hear the typical stadium sound effects such as an organ playing the first part of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and the crowd will shout a chant, but it’s all very generic.
Each stadium appears to be replicated as a rough facsimile of the real thing, though you only see famous monuments in between innings or if there happens to be a home run. There’s generic grass and foul ball markers, and I’m not too sure if home run distance requirements change in each stadium or not. Character models are pretty bland, with only a few skin tones and jersey numbers to distinguish one player from another. Some batters do appear to take different stances in rough approximation to what their real-life stance is. But there’s none of the pizazz of other games; no walk-up music or animations, no Home Run Derby modes, not even a practice mode. There is local versus, which can be fun, at least. Online is here as well, though in our testing we could not get into a game, likely because there aren’t too many players looking for a game at any given time. You can invite a friend to play, which does help to ease getting a game together.
I guess the main point of R.B.I Baseball 2015 is to enjoy a quick game of ball when you have only a few minutes to spare. The main advantage that this game does have over its competitors is a very quick load time. You can load the game from the PS4’s home screen and into a full game within a minute. This is likely due to the game’s assets being so lightweight, so it’s both a pro and a con.
R.B.I. Baseball 2015 isn’t a bad game. It’s not a genre-defining game, either. At $20, there are certainly worse things you can throw your money at (I’m looking at you, Yorbie). If you need a quick arcade baseball fix, then R.B.I. Baseball 2015 can hit the spot. However, when last year’s MLB 14 The Show can be had for a mere $5 more at this point, you may want to save up a little bit to experience a more complete package.
Review copy was provided by the publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.