Game Name: Out of the Park Baseball 16
Publisher: Out of the Park Developments
Designer: Markus Heinsohn
Platforms: PC, Mac, and Linux
Players: Solo with online leagues
Rating: E for everyone
Retail Price: $39.99
Category: Text based baseball simulation
Only a month into the baseball season and there’s already been plenty of surprises in the real life sport; contenders are beginning to flex their muscles while pretenders have started to slip to the wayside. Our nation’s pastime continues to fascinate because you know you can always expect the unexpected. While Out of the Park Baseball simulates the sport better than any other game on the market, there’s never any mystery as to what you’ll be getting into. There are no surprises with OOTP.
I’d have to say everything I wrote in the review of last year’s edition still holds true. No doubt those who live and breathe baseball will find hour after hour of free time disappearing into their ongoing seasons of OOTP; once the game gets its hooks into you there’s no looking back. Longtime owners of the series know what to expect and the 2015 delivers as promised; deep gameplay, the ability to replay any season or jump into the history of baseball in any prior year still remains, and chosing to be the GM or manager or both all remain.
Out of the Park Baseball 16 continues to build upon the years of innovation gone before. As MLB 15: The Show provides a great baseball experience for those in need of visual splendor and fast reflexes, OOTP places the player both into the front office and dugout to oversee all aspects of running a baseball franchise. You have the choice of taking on as much of the day to day operations of your team as you’d like and players have the ability to delegate various tasks to the AI.
Rather than rehashing the basics of OOTP (you really might want to read that 2014 review) let’s look at some of the additions to this year’s game:
MLB and MiLB licensing now provides official league logos, 30 MLB team logos and jerseys, over 150 MiLB team logos, and even historical MLB logos
2015 opening day rosters
International and independent leagues and rosters are now included
Various storylines and off field incidents bring more color to your fictional baseball universe
You can check out all the additional changes at the OOTP features page in fact.
In truth, many of the improvements and tweaks won’t be readily apparent to most gamers. Even the inclusion of the baseball licensing simply means gamers don’t have to download some community mods as they had in past years. Strangely, you’ll still have to find a fan mod if you want player photos in your game. This isn’t to say the changes aren’t appreciated just that they don’t make this year’s OOTP radically different than 2014’s. Yet it’s hard for me to say OOTP 16 is a must by for those who already own OOTP 15.
Much of the 2016 OOTP gameplay remains essentially the same as you’re able to wheel and deal for players, sign free agents, set a multitude of lineups, oversee the minor league system, scout prospects, and tackle the pitch by pitch management of your team. All the information you’ll need is found through a series of menus while the action of the individual ball games unfolds through a radio style play-by-play.
It will take a steady hand and a fine balancing act to guide a perennial also ran to the promised land of a World Series title.
The learning curve for new players remains rather steep, although there’s a die-hard online community of fans to turn to for advice, and it will take a good deal of time for newbies to get a handle on running their team well. The menu system still needs to be streamlined and made more user friendly since it’s not always obvious where to look for the information you need. The 3D ballparks and ball flight physics are still a work in progress and have a tacked on feel to them. At some point, OOTP is going to need to provide a better visual presentation (ala the past few versions of Football Manager) in order to grow the appeal of the title beyond just those of us who know what statistics such as WAR, wOBA, and xFIB may be.
Thus, a tiny dip in the overall score for this year’s OOTP.
Without a doubt, Out of the Park Baseball 16 remains the go to sim for those who have a deep love of the sport. While it probably doesn’t appeal to those who prefer their sports gaming be done on a console the title is a must for anyone who believes the fortunes of their favorite team could be turned around if only ownership put them in charge.