STAFF REVIEW of R.B.I. Baseball '14 (Xbox 360)

Friday, July 18, 2014.
by Scott Fowler

R.B.I. Baseball '14 Box art Blast from the past time everyone!!

Remember that game that blew us all away, circa 1995? Cartoonish players, button mashing galore, and some serious movement on our curve-balls?

It's Back! Well, sort of. RBI Baseball '14!

This review will be actually based on the Xbox One version of the game, but having seen it on both the One and 360, along with it's other platform iterations, you can rest assured that there's no real difference between the previous and current gen consoles. For a download price of 19.99 (Xbox One/360), what do you get? Read on and find out!

First, for those of you that read my contributions to the site, you probably know that I'm a die hard baseball fan. I live about 4 miles from Angels Stadium in Southern California, and as a matter of fact, I'll be at two of the three Angels games this coming weekend. I say this because I want to establish how big of a baseball nerd I am.

While many of you might be RPG, MMORPG, or FPS fans, I'm a diehard baseball game fan. My daily driver on 75-80% of days I played my 360 was that season's MLB title. I play multiple seasons, I play online, I play nuanced coaching styles and force the bunt if the situation calls for it. I am, without a doubt, a baseball gamer; which really sucks on any console not named PS4 in 2014.

There is no big brand baseball release on any of the Xbox platforms this year. Marketing and licensing got messy, and here we sit. Enter RBI 2014. Meant to bring back the days gone by in baseball gaming, it sought to simplify things, and "get back to it's roots". Ok, ok, enough rambling. Here's the review...

As a baseball game, this game is my favorite; my favorite to play on my Android tablet. Let me explain.

You pick your favorite team. You get your roster, you play in a stadium. One button to pitch, one button to swing, one button to steal. It's old school all right, and while it totally hits the nail on the head for simplicity and throw-back styling, it's completely one dimensional.

The graphics are mediocre at best. There are about 4 different batter stance/swing/body combinations and some players have significant increased abilities based on their real-world counterparts. Mike Trout, Angels wunderkind, can hit, Jeter's solid and Beltre can park 'em over the fence.

But it's just. One. Button. Pitch, Swing, Steal (if you want). That's it. The controls are easy, but the game is just completely flat with little to no replay-ability. It's a total discard once you've played it for 10 minutes.

I know I'm probably being harsh, but in an era of Madden for NFL, of NBA 2K14, and FIFA 14, especially on the next-gen consoles, this title is not even an afterthought. It's probably a tough path, too from a development standard. Other than The Show on Sony's boxes, there has not been a significant baseball release in years. The lack of title leads to a lack of market, and a lack of market and expensive licensing deals with MLB itself leads to less development. Chicken, Egg, to a degree, but it becomes self fulfilling after a while. There's no market for baseball games because there aren't any good baseball games. You get the idea...

On my daughters iPad, this game is great. On my tablet? Perfect. Oh, and did I mention it was only $5 on each of those devices? Sign me up! On my Xbox One for $20? Should have passed.

Other weird things plagued this roll out, too. The title launched months ago on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Only about two weeks ago, however, was it able to make it to the Xbox One. Normally this makes sense, because they're adding features and graphics and presentation and differentiation for the next-gen consoles. This was none of those things. Ironically, they even did a good job on the teaser side of things, with limited information available before the games semi-spectacular launch, with reviews and quotes from real MLB players singing it's praises.

Maybe, as a hardcore baseball game player, I'm the wrong target audience. I'm sure the people that hate the difficulty in sports gaming in 2014 love the throwback ease of the title, and with them as a target audience, it's quite probably a home run. Unfortunately for this reviewer, it was more a swing and a miss.

I love the idea of re-introducing an icon, a classic, in a new world. I just think sports gaming makes it tough to travel back in time, because sometimes less is more, but this was just less.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 6.2 / 10
Visuals: 6.4 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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