Remember when you played your first baseball game? Was it a simulator like Strat-O-Matic? Or maybe it was that baseball card dice game? If you’re from my generation, it was probably RBI Baseball or the cult favorite SNK Baseball Stars.
It really doesn’t matter where you started, it matters where you are now. Or where you should be, rather.
Out of the Park Baseball, available for PC or Mac (via Steam), is the quintessential game for any serious baseball fan. While it might not be as flashy or personal as a game like The Show, it makes up for it in the total baseball immersion you experience. And, you don’t need to be familiar with ‘gaming’ to play; it’s a user-friendly experience that requires no hand-eye coordination.
Imagine being the General Manager of the Miami Marlins. What would you do with your organization at this point? Would you continue to sell off pieces of your team, or would you decide to spend some money and grab free agents to bring fans back to the stadium?
In OOTP you can do exactly that; it’s your world.
You can play in what is called Challenge Mode, where the game restricts certain available features. Or you can make yourself commissioner and have God-like control over the entire league.
Don’t want the DH rule? Get rid of it. Want both leagues to adopt the DH? Let it be so. Adjust as much or as little as you want. Make changes to injury frequency and trading difficulty, or something as extreme as changing the league structure and season length.
Playing as a GM under commissioner mode and want to make a trade that another organization refuses to accept? Too bad for them, because you are able to force trades. Owner not giving you enough money? Sucks to be him because you can offer players a salary that exceeds your available budget.
Another cool feature of playing as the team GM is your ability to hire/fire coaches, managers at any farm system level, team trainers, scouts, you name it (you can play as both the GM and Manager, too).
Want to keep it simple and just be a manager? You can control your pitching rotation (who pitches when and where along with pitch count limits), set your own strategy in terms of favoring L/R splits, how often to steal bases (as well as under which circumstances to do so), or how heavily you’d like to apply shifts. Have a fast runner on your team you’d like to attempt more stolen bases or more frequently stretch singles into doubles (or triples)? You have that power!
As a manager, you’ll also want to keep an eye on team and player morale. Fighting in the clubhouse can lead to a good team taking a dive in the standings. See who is causing the problem and trade him. Or, go out and acquire a player who has leadership skills, is comfortable being a team capitan, and can get the clubhouse back under control.
Not want to be bothered with setting lineups or pitching staffs? The game has an incredible AI feature that takes care of all that for you! All you have to do is tell the game to set your lineups and how long to simulate. You can be instantly transported from Opening Day to the All-Star break, for example.
The simulation aspect of the game is its heart and soul, the most advanced feature. Wonder what the yet-to-be-played 2018 season will develop into 50 years from now? OOPT will show you. Want to find out who will be in the Hall of Fame in 100 years? Now you can!
You can autoplay day-to-day, or an entire year in a matter of minutes! Simulate a season however long you want, look over your team to make adjustments, and continue forward to any point in the year.
And while the sim engine is running, you’ll get periodical notifications such as player injuries, demands for playing time, questions about negotiating an extension, etc.
You can also receive trade proposals from other teams that you can either immediately accept, reject, or negotiate for a better deal.
And OOTP isn’t limited to Major League Baseball. Just about every organization around the world is available. Any league from Nippon Professional Baseball to Honkball Hoofdklasse is included in the game. You can release players from those alternative leagues and post them to MLB. Run those leagues yourself or use them as a sub organization along with the big leagues.
There is also an in-game feature where you are able to play every game yourself. Control how to pitch to a certain batter, make bullpen adjustments, position your defense for a pull hitter, and pinch-hit at just the right time in the game. It’s all there, ready to be manipulated. And yes, there are game play animations involved for the action-minded player.
The game can also help you understand some things like salary arbitration; better make sure you give your players decent offers or the judge will deem you a cheapskate and reward the player what he asks for.
Get knee-deep the cut throat hot stove period where teams scramble to sign free agents. Want to pick up Clayton Kershaw? Well, you better be prepared to outspend the richer organizations and be savvy enough to offer incentives or opt-out clauses to tempt the player to your franchise.
Now let’s say you’re a prospect guy or fancy yourself an armchair scout. There are complete minor leagues available for you to analyze, as well as the yearly amateur draft and international free agent signing periods. Yes, you’ll face the same obstacles as real-life front offices do in terms of spending limits and available cash.
You can also determine how prospects (and pro players) are evaluated. You can use the standard 20/80 system, 1-5 stars, or even as specific as 1-100 ratings.
You can promote players at will, or have the simulator move them up and down the farm system for you.
Oh, and it doesn’t stop at modern-day baseball.
Lets say you want to find out how the strike-shortened season of 1994 would have played out without the stoppage. Or maybe you want to see how many World Series Championships the 90’s Atlanta Braves would have won with you running the ship.
Perhaps you want to get creative and design your own league with its own rules and run a fantasy draft from any era or time frame in baseball history. See what would happen if Babe Ruth played along side of Bryce Harper. Or how a battle between Mike Trout and Bob Gibson would play out.
You can also wipe out all ‘real’ players and start a league with game-created players and pre-defined skills.
There are many, many more aspects to this terrific game that I’ve probably left out; so much that its impossible to cover every minor detail that this game pulls off to a tee.
Production has begun on the latest version, OOTP 19, with an expected release date sometime in March. Pre-orders are available now at a 10% discount.
Trust me, if you’re going to drop money on a baseball game this year, don’t hesitate. This is the game for you!