RBI Baseball 18 is an interesting game. At its best moments, it’s a simple, fun baseball game that has an arcade-style game you want to come back to. At its worst moments, it’s one of the most frustrating and broken games you’ve ever played. For those of us not on a Sony machine, we have few options available to us for baseball games. The RBI Baseball series was meant to be a quality option for Xbox and Nintendo owners; however, the recent year editions have been poor to downright awful. RBI Baseball 18 is better than its 2017 edition, but that’s not exactly a good thing when the 2017 edition was so awful.
RBI Baseball is a series that dates back to the NES, debuting in June 1988. After numerous installments on the NES, SNES, and Genesis, the RBI Baseball series went away until 2014, and we’ve gotten a new edition in each year since. RBI Baseball 18 is the first version of the game to be made by Major League Baseball itself, which promised a new engine, better animations, and generally just more stuff in the game. As previously stated, RBI Baseball is an arcade-style baseball game. What does that mean? It means simple button presses to complete actions, and the game features light and simple baseball action. This is not a deep simulation of the sport, and that’s good to know going into the game.
RBI Baseball 18 makes a number of improvements over its 2017 edition. The addition of more game modes, including Franchise Mode, makes the game feel like it has more depth. Franchise Mode alone is a nice addition, allowing you to control your favorite MLB team for 10 seasons. This is a really welcome addition, as it always felt weird in previous editions of the game to only be able to play a single game as your favorite team. If Franchise Mode isn’t your thing, there’s always the Exhibition Game mode (allowing you to play a single game) or Home Run Derby Mode (play through all 8 players in the Home Run Derby). In sports games like this, it’s really nice to have a number of game modes besides the basic “play a game” mode. It definitely helps make the game feel deeper, giving you a new reason to come back to the game. RBI Baseball 18 also has a new game engine, sporting better visuals than before and now with more “authentic” animations for the players. It’s a nice upgrade and does make the game look better.
With all that said, RBI Baseball 18 is like a train wreck waiting to happen. At its best moments, the game is fun and provides simple baseball action. The biggest problem is that, like a train wreck, it goes horribly wrong very quickly, and 99% of the time it’s not your fault as the player. I’m totally fine getting beat by the computer in the game. I make a mistake, I pay. However, RBI Baseball’s A.I. is so brutally all over the place, it breaks the game. At random points in the game, the computer is so stupid that it misses simple plays on the field or throws a ball straight down the middle of the plate so you can get an easy hit. Then, very randomly, the A.I. is perfect, it doesn’t miss a play, doesn’t miss a ball, and hits home runs against you with ease. It literally happens at a random moment in any game, and I tried many, many games for this review. Frustrating? Absolutely. Fun and fair? Not at all.
It should also be noted that the game looks better than its 2017 edition, but it still looks bad. Player animations have been improved; however, they still need a lot of work. Players will look good when running but then randomly stop any animation whatsoever when a play on the field is over. This can be quite an odd sight when a player that was literally running full speed a half second ago just stops completely, frozen on the field. At times the game can look and play like a good quality mobile game. The thing is, on consoles it’s really easy to notice the graphics are….not quite there, like a PS2 game made today. While this is an improvement, the game still needs work to look like a decent game. It’s understandable that the game won’t look the same as the MLB: The Show series since this game simply doesn’t have the budget or development team. That said, the RBI Baseball series has the opportunity to be a good go-to game for those looking for a simple arcade baseball game…if it looked and played well. This is what makes recommending RBI Baseball 18 hard. At its best moments, you’ll have fun and want to play a lot more of this game. At its worst moments, you’ll never want to pick the game back up. It’s just a shame that the worst moments of the game happen way too often.
Developer: Major League Baseball Advanced Media
Publisher: Major League Baseball Advanced Media
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Mobile
Release Date: 20th March 2018 (PS4, Xbox One), 13th April 2018 (Mobile), 14th June 2018 (Nintendo Switch)
For more information on RBI Baseball 18, see HERE
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