Link to game website: http://www.ootpdevelopments.com/out-of-the-park-baseball/index.php
Out of the Park Baseball is a baseball management and simulation video game franchise. The commissioner of my fantasy baseball league brought a review of the new version for this year (OOTP 14) to my attention, and after looking into it some more, I decided to see what it was all about. Pirates blogger David Manel has mentioned OOTP on twitter in the past as well.
OOTP is not your typical baseball video game – the focus of this game is not controlling players on the field, but running every detail of an organization. You are put in control of a team and act as the GM, controlling every detail from the rookie leagues up to the major leagues. If you’re fascinated by the decision making required by a baseball GM, or wanted to see how your philosophy would play out in a realistic simulation, this is the game for you. It can kind of be overwhelming at first (this was my first OOTP game) to see just how many decisions you are responsible for, but once you get into it you can develop a better rhythm and feeling for what you should be aware of. The game is so robust with features and details that you will never feel bored, though.
While the management is the focus of the game, you can take control of your team for each game if you like. You don’t control each pitch or each swing, but you can set strategy for each at-bat, control steals and hit-and-runs, make substitutions, etc. So far I do this every once in a while if I feel like it or it seems like an important game against a divisional rival.
- Graphics: I had no problem with the graphics. You spend most of your time on the various menu and player screens, and those graphics are fine. There’s a lot of information, so it is a little crowded, but it’s not unpleasant. The gameplay graphics, while not awful, are pretty basic. It’s like watching a game on a version of Gameday from a few years ago.
- Performance: I’m running it on a 4-year old laptop with Windows 7, and haven’t experienced any major issues. When simulating more than a few days at a time, it can freeze for a second or two, but nothing too bothersome.
- Depth of Features: This is where the game shines. It has essentially every feature you could think of. At the start of the year, I went over my minor league rosters and identified players to check back on in a month or two for a promotion. I had to make sure my MiL rosters were set up the way I wanted, with certain pitchers in the rotation, etc. You can set in-game strategy tendencies for individual players. At the major league level, you set your lineups and depth charts based on the handedness of the opposing pitcher. You can set exact roles for all your bullpen pitchers, their usage levels, and their secondary roles.
There’s also all the other player management features – a pretty solid trade system (although I did manage to get Oscar Taveras for Jose Tabata and some minor league pitchers) that will occasionally initiate trade offers to you from other teams, a fully formed draft system (I just finished negotiating with and signing all my draft choices), and an international free agent signing period (I was not as successful there in signing all the players I wanted). If you don’t want to have to negotiate with all your draft picks, there’s a setting to just have them auto-sign for their bonus demand, but that’s pretty boring. It was fun drafting the first ten rounds keeping an eye on their bonus demands and my pool.
You have to make 25-man and 40-man roster choices, players go on the DL often (very often, in my first season) and you must have capable depth, which is something this first year has taught me.
- Realism: Pretty realistic, although the trade system, as mentioned above, might undervalue prospects a little. I took control of the Pirates (obviously), and one thing that was difficult for me was to separate what has happened in real life this year from what the game said was going to happen. For example, Jeff Locke was a disaster in the game this year, and James McDonald stayed in my rotation most of the year. Similarly, it rates Jameson Taillon pretty low, so my planned mid-season promotion to AAA never came. Pedro Alvarez was a force this season, so that’s pretty realistic!
- Addictiveness: Totally, absolutely addictive. You will not want to stop playing. The game makes it so easy to constantly tinker and improve things with your team, but you can also just sit back and simulate games for a few weeks. No matter your approach, you will be entertained, and before long, totally immersed in your baseball universe.
- Online play: There is an online OOTP community with online leagues, but I haven’t tried that yet, so I can’t speak to its quality. I have heard good things in other reviews I’ve read.
- Value: I was hesitant to spend $39.99 on a game I had never played before, but it’s well worth it. The previous versions are cheaper if you want to try them out first.
Overall: One of the best designed video games I’ve ever played, easily the best baseball video game I’ve ever played. Totally addictive, rich depth of features, and endless possibilities for you to explore. If you’re a serious baseball fan that loves the management side of the game, this game was made for you. If you’re a serious baseball fan that has never really thought about the managing an organization, this game makes it easy to learn. Terrific game. 9.5/10