America's pastime certainly has a lot of history and stirs emotions of yesteryear. Maybe it is because of movies like Field of Dreams
. Maybe it's because the ballpark treats like peanuts, hot dogs, and cracker jacks haven't changed since the dawn of time. Maybe it’s watching our favorite team win the World Series.
And we all like to win, don’t we? Losing can be depressing. After seeing your favorite team lose time after time, you start to think even a monkey could manage the team better than the current GM. It's a good thing that Out of the Park Developments feels your pain. That's why they have created Out of the Park Baseball 10 (OOTP).
Upon loading the game for the first time, you are greeted with a welcome screen. OOTP modestly tells you that it is the “most advanced baseball management game.” What does this mean for you? If a manager can do it in real life, you can do it in the game. Actually, you can do so much more than in real life.
If your typical video game has as many options as a car stereo, then OOTP could be compared to the mixing board at a professional recording studio. This is both exhilarating and frightening at the same time. Thankfully, OOTP knows how intimidating its sim-muscles can be so it offers an extensive help system. OOTP sets the bar for being user friendly with video tutorials and over 600 pages of help information all easily accessible at the press of a button. There is also a classy and dedicated fan base that answer questions in the game’s forums. Sadly, it is missing an in-game tutorial that would have been a fresh breeze in the heat of learning even the most basic of options.
OOTP allows you to manage any historic MLB season from 1871 – 2008, even minor leagues for current year rosters. Make up fictional leagues where you pull every player off of every team and start from scratch. Take a real world schedule and mix-up which team plays and when. All of these things are easy to accomplish. Getting started is simple even for players new to the OOTP series.
Controls are simple since it’s a mouse driven game. A click of the left mouse button navigates through menus, while the clicking the right mouse button brings up a context sensitive menu for various items. This is really all that’s needed and works well.
You can change your pitching staff, the batting lineup, and your team strategy. There is also ways to change your team colors, logos, and even player pictures. What really matters, though, is game time. This is where OOTP really shines.
OOTP gives a play-by-play (text) announcement of the game as it plays out. During a game: you tell the batter to take the pitch or swing away; you tell the pitcher to intentional walk or hit the batter (love that option!); you make substitutions as needed. Or, sit back like a real GM and let your coach take care of those decisions for you. It looks all very similar to Gameday on MLB.com if you’ve ever checked that out, showing where pitches hit in and around the strike zone.
Regardless of the outcome of the game, OOTP records every statistic imaginable. Wonder how well a hitter performs when there is a person on 2nd base, when playing a night game on a real grass field? How does the team do when it comes to covering 3rd base? Anything that you could possibly want to know about your team’s performance is recorded. All of this information is easy to find and very informative.
“Informative” can sometimes mean emotional detachment or extreme boredom, right? A good example of this is if you just think about the last office meeting or class that you had to attend that involved PowerPoint. Thankfully, OOTP dodges that bullet like a pro and doesn’t force feed you anything you don’t want or need.
The game also adds human elements to a potentially monotonous experience. Taking a look at the injuries that can happen in game might show injuries resulting from “heroically rescuing neighbors from a house fire” or “his kid ran into him with his bike.” Watching a game can yield such announcements as “the 1st base coach reached out to catch a foul ball one handed, that’s got to hurt!” Little things like these draw you deeper into the simulation.
It got to the point that I didn’t even realize I was hooked. At about the 10th game in my first season as manager for the Cincinnati Reds, my
boys won 21-0 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. They burned through 6 pitchers! Two things happened simultaneously at this point. One, I felt that I was literally holding my breath every time the opposite team stepped up to the plate. Two, I realized I was now referring to the Reds as “my boys.” It was then that I gave in and accepted the fact that I was addicted.
Other than setting up lineups and watching the games play out, OOTP10 also gets you involved with the draft and salary arbitration. News stories are created when something spectacular happens. Personal messages are sent by players when they are happy (or not). Scouting reports are made on upcoming matches against rival teams. These are all just scratching the surface of what happens.
Truly, there is so much to love about OOTP that this review could be as long as the game’s manual. It runs well with nary a hiccup and proves to be a solid experience all around. OOTP performs exactly the way it should for a baseball management game. This game is not for everyone. However, if you can get past the original learning curve that is steeper than most games on the market, Out of the Park Baseball 10 will have you coming back for season after season.
Don’t take my word for it. You can download the full version of the game (weighing in at only 220MB) from the official website
and play it for 7 days. You won’t regret it.