Also On: PS4, PC
This is how Mookie Betts looks on the cover of RBI Baseball 16. He looks sad. Resigned. Haunted. That's the look of a man silently imploring potential buyers to reconsider their purchase of the game. "It's too late for me," his eyes are pleading. "Turn away and save yourself while you still have the chance."
It's a warning you'd have to be insane not to take at this point. The first two installments of the reborn RBI Baseball franchise were complete and utter garbage from top to bottom, games that failed on literally every level imaginable. If you're expecting RBI Baseball 16 to be significantly better than those disasters, you haven't been paying attention.
Now, to be fair, RBI Baseball 16 is ever-so-slightly better than its predecessor. No longer does every single player on the field move in unison, or stand around in the exact same pose; this time out, Major League Baseball seems to have increased the number of player animations, so that you only have a couple of players on the screen at any given moment doing the same thing. Likewise, seemingly recognizing that not all players hit or throw the same way, it looks like slight variations in batting stances and pitching wind-ups have been added this time out — though the differences between them are so minimal, I'm not entirely sure I didn't just make them up in my head.
In a much more positive spirit, I'm pleased to report that the online works. Why you'd want to share this horrific experience with anyone else, I'm not entirely sure, but the fact remains that it is possible, and it may even work better than MLB The Show 16 — which is saying something, since this year's edition of The Show seems to have worked out a lot of that game's online kinks.
Unfortunately, that's the only way in which the words "RBI Baseball 16" and "better than MLB The Show" can ever be connected. In every other way, this game is pretty dire.
Admittedly, nearly everything wrong with the game comes from the fact that no one who worked on it has apparently ever seen how a baseball moves in real life. I know that that some allowances should be made for the fact that RBI Baseball 16 aims for an arcade-y style feel rather than realism, but that's only an excuse up to a point. There's no rhyme or reason to the way the ball moves here: you can tip the ball off the end of the bat and have it go flying into the stands for a homerun, and you can make solid contact and see the ball dribble onto the ground in front of you. As a fielder there's no way of knowing where the ball is going to wind up, making it impossible to try and settle under even the easiest of fly balls. In fact, judging from the number of errors that occured after I turned on assisted fielding, it seems that not even the AI knows what it's doing. Balls dive and swerve in every way imaginable, and the game does you no favors by its frequent refusal to show you most foul balls. I lost track of the number of times I'd hit something that either looked fair off the bat, or that looked like it should've been an easy foul pop-up for the catcher, only for the game to immediately scream "Foul ball!" and cut to the next pitch. Considering how absurd it seemed when it did show you, I doubt that showing more fouls would've helped much, but when there's as much apparent randomness going on as there is here, you can't help but wish for a little more help, wherever it may have come from.
Next to that massive garbage fire of a problem, all RBI Baseball 16's other problems seem minor by comparison. Pitchers still have next to no stamina, which makes getting through a game — to say nothing of a whole season, whether shortened or full-length — really difficult. Likewise, you may be able to download active roster updates, but that's all you can do with a team, so if you've ever dreamt of taking the dregs of the league and turning them into champions via trades or free agency, you'd better look elsewhere. And as tired as I may be of hearing the same Matt Vasgersian lines over and over and over again, year after year in MLB The Show, the total silence (apart from the same, repetitive menu and between-inning music) here makes me long for his dulcet tones.
Of course, RBI Baseball 16 is so bad, it could make you long for pretty much anything else, like getting a cavity filled or enduring a long, silent bus ride with no diversions. Three years in, you might think that its makers would've stumbled across something vaguely resembling a formula that works — and yet, here's this game, showing that such expectations are entirely incorrect.