Out of the Park Baseball 13|
I was quite excited when Mark (Editor of GCM) contacted me about writing the review for one of my all-time favorite games, Out of the Park Baseball! It just so happens that I wrote the original review for GCM on Out of the Park Baseball 5 way back in 2004, so I was very excited to revisit this series after all these years.
Out of the Park Baseball, or OOTP for short, is an excellent baseball simulation game that allows the player to be totally immersed in the atmosphere of Americaís favorite pastime. I remember the Detroit Tigers team that I took to the series back in 2005 and was very excited to be at the helm again. I had played some of the more recent versions of OOTP from the years between 2005 and now, and I can honestly say that I wasnít a big fan of the newer versions of the game. The interface had been completely redesigned from the 2005 version and the simulation engine just didnít seem as smooth. I proceeded to download version 13 of the series and had it installed and licensed in no time. The first thing that I noticed was that the interface from the past few years had been totally redesigned, yet again, but this time it was a very friendly experience with many familiar features from that old version I had become accustomed to. The clunky interface from versions 8, 9, and 10, had been reworked into a smooth flowing GUI (graphical user interface) that made it quite easy to jump in and get started. It was very nice to see that Markus and his team had dedicated this much time on the new GUI. I knew at the first moment I saw it that I was in for a treat!
The new GUI features a header at the top of the screen that makes navigation very easy. It even includes a bookmark feature so that you can save your favorite pages and hop to them in a momentís notice. Off to the right side of the screen is also the revamped toolbar. This toolbar used to be located at the bottom of the screen and, in my honest opinion, wasnít very useful. Now itís a great asset in getting to the screens you will use most. This is one of the coolest features that can and should be used when playing the game. Another great feature is the score ticker that scrolls across the bottom of the screen and keeps you updated on your current scores and upcoming games.
I navigated the many different and redesigned screens before starting my league, and let me just say that the team at Out of the Park Developments have done a wonderful job on the usability and creativity of this new version. They have put a lot of thought and effort into making this game the best that it could be, from the easy-to-navigate menus to the extremely deep simulation mode. There are many options in creating your own custom league or beginning a league from an actual Major League template. You can use real-life rosters or create your own fantasy rosters.
One of the features that I look for in simulation games is the ability to import my teams of old into a newer, fresher version of the game. It is very unfortunate that the EA Sports Madden NFL and NCAA Football series do not allow this, and as such I no longer play these two games. It takes many hours of play time in order to get your very own special team tweaked and designed to your liking and then not be able to reuse them in newer versions. I dug out my old saved game from OOTP 5 and dove right in at getting it imported into this new version. After reading the import section in the online manual and finding some of the free software online that I needed to convert my extremely old saved data, I was ready to go! I was able to import my Major League team and create a complete Minor League system for my Detroit Tigerís team that I used back in 2005. Of course, I created a Minor League system that included all fictional teams and players since my Major League team was originally created that way. The only items that I was not able to import were my older game logs and individual player accomplishments. I believe this can be accomplished with a few free tools, but I wasnít interested in all of this data and I was excited to see my old team in this new version. There they were, my stars of old, ready to continue their road to the Hall of Fame. Now I was ready to play and was very excited to see what I needed to do to get this team back to the World Series!
Wow, talk about options - this game has them in spades! I was able to view my current roster and upon right-clicking on a player, I was presented with a wealth of choices. From this menu, you can open the playerís profile, shortlist a player, compare players, and request a scouting report just to name a few. There are many more options that range from demoting and promoting a player from the lower leagues to negotiating all type of trades. My Tigers were back, and after a few trades and a bit of rebuilding, I was on my way to the playoffsÖor so I thought! After a few games my players were starting to show a bit of exhaustion, as was I. Itís a lot of work managing a Major League team along with a Triple-A, Double-A, and Single-A team. I decided that I didnít want to manage the lower leagues so that I could concentrate on my Tigers so I set up the computer AI to manage those lower leagues. This included roster changes, pitching rotation, and many more options that I just didnít have the time to manage while trying to groom my Tigers for the World Series.
If you would like more information on the depth of this game, please see the links below:
Team morale is high and all of my players are happy to be on this team. Morale plays a large part in this game. If a player is unhappy with his situation, he may not play well. He may also be looking for a trade and may not be interested in signing with you in the upcoming year. Iím also certain that a few of my players wonít be back next year due to financial constraints on my team. I just canít afford to keep all of them, but the good news is that if a few of them leave for free agency it should allow me to recoup some of my funds. OOTP has a very in-depth financial system and it is very easy to spend beyond your means. It takes a bit of planning, but with the right amount of balance you can have a great team and actually be able to afford them year after year!
My team has made it to the playoffs after a superb regular season of baseball. Follow along as I take you through our playoff adventure! I had a weak right field position on my team for more than half of the season so I negotiated a trade the day before the trade cutoff. Who knew that Bill Trahan would lead my team to a win in our first playoff game with three RBIís. What a great trade pickup! We finished the first playoff round against the Angels in the AL Western Division with a 3-2 record. It was a nail-biter, but my team was able to pull off a win in the fifth and final game of the series, 9-8.
Our next series was against the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Eastern Division. We lost game 1 but came back in game 2 with two homeruns and 3 RBIís from Phillip Pellham, our excellent catcher! We are now leading the series 3-2 thanks to a come-from-behind win in the 8th inning of game 5. We clinched the series 4-2 with a decisive win over the Rays in game 6 and the Player of the Game award goes to Bill Trahan, again! Itís on to the World Series against the Milwaukee Brewers! Here is a screenshot of the current playoff picture:
Game one of the World Series didnít go well for my Tigers. They did much better in game two with James Creek, our left fielder, hitting a home run and driving in a total 8 RBIís throughout the game. Great win team, on to game 3!
Our series hasnít started out quite the way that I would have liked. We are losing in the series to the Brewers 3-2 and my first baseman was just suspended for four games due to his disrobing act after being called out on strikes. Way to go Matthews, this is not what our team needed! To make matters worse, our final two games are at Milwaukee. See the screenshot below for the full details!
Well, we finally tied the series at 3 games apiece. It all comes down to the final game. The Tigers are leading the game 6-5 in the 8th inning with the top of the Brewerís order coming up next. The Brewers tie up the game at 6-6 in the top of the 9th and my Tigers arenít able to pull it out in the bottom of the inning. Itís on to extra innings in the last game of the World Series! Unfortunately, the Tigers give up two runs in the top of the 10th inning and are unable to get any runs of their own. We lose the series, 4 games to 3, but not after a long hard battle. Such is a season of baseball, now to take some time off and then get back to the grindstone finding some new talent for next yearís team!
I donít have the time nor the space here to write about all of the new, cool features that OOTP Developments have included in this version, but trust me when I say that if you like baseball in any way, shape, or form, that OOTP 13 is well worth the money. This game has the staying power and can provide you with hours upon hours of pure baseball enjoyment!