(NOTE: In the interests of full disclosure: the nice people at Out of the Park Developments contacted AZ Snakepit to do a review of this game.)
For the uninitiated, Out of the Park Baseball is a text and menu based Baseball simulation for PC, Mac, and Linux. Unlike some of its cousins in the Baseball simulation-o-sphere, Out of the Park (OOTP for short) focuses more on the Management/General Manager side of Baseball, rather than you controlling the players on the field and some very basic Franchise/GM mode. In terms of depth of its management modes, The Show and other games of its ilk is a Fun With Dick and Jane book, while OOTP is a long Russian epic.
Out of the Park 16 is the latest offering in the series, going with the sports game naming convention of calling things a year ahead of what it actually is. I have played previous versions before (OOTP 14 was my last one), and there are a few things you notice right off the bat (baseball term) when you load up 16.
First of all, unlike in previous versions of the series, there are actual MLB Team logos and names, where in previous versions there were generic looking logos. This adds a sense of authenticity to this year's game that was kind of missing in the past. Also, within the mode of playing an actual game (more on this later), all 30 MLB stadiums are rendered in either a normal picture or a 3D model.
When you start up a new game of OOTP 16, you are greeted with the option as to which league(s) you want to play in. That's right, in addition to Major League Baseball, you have the option of including many leagues from around the world. Feel like playing the NPB? You can do that. Want to play in a world where only the Mexican League and Japanese Independent Leagues exist? That is possible.
You can choose to play as a Manager, a General Manager or both. Manager means you handle on-field strategy, lineups, etc, while the AI GM does all the roster moves. GM has you make all the roster moves, but you can't control the on-field strategy or lineups or rotation. Both means you get to channel your inner Dan Jennings and do it all.
When you start up a game with just Major League Baseball, it takes a bit to load. This makes sense, considering there are a lot of data files to be loaded (Logos, Uniforms, Players at every minor league level conceivable.), and simulating a season takes time, but again with OOTP's depth this is understandable.
While in-game, there are various menus and screens to navigate to control the various aspects of your team.These can be a little hard to navigate at first when you aren't totally sure where everything is, but with enough playing time, they'll become second nature. The screen above is part of the lineup/roster subset, which as both a manager and a GM you will be spending much time with. Here you can set lineups and the rotation for your major league team. You can also, through various sub-menus, control your minor league system (promotions, who is on the 40-man, etc.)
Or you can choose not to. The beauty of OOTP, and my main takeaway for this review, is that you can play it in almost any way possible. If you're the type who wants to micromanage the Minor League system all the way down to who the emergency Catcher for the Hillsboro Hops is, you can do that! If you just want to work on the Major League roster and have unfeeling AI robots control the minor league system, you can also do that through some menu options.
It goes beyond that, too. Do you want to start a custom league of fictional players where all the teams are various neighborhoods of Sacremento? You have the power to do that. Do you want to hold an expansion draft and bring back the Montreal Expos?
That is a thing you can do!
I simulated a season with the Diamondbacks, just to see what would happen. Now, rosters were set for the beginning of the season, so Mark Trumbo is still here, the Catching situation is not great, Josh Collmenter is considered a viable starter, Peter O'Brien is considered a viable catching prospect, etc. I actually did pretty well, all things considered, and there were some fun things along the way.
First off, I was able to dump Trumbo on the Padres straight up for James Shields. Maybe not great long term in terms of value for pitching, but makes even less sense for the Padres.
I was also able to flip Jeremy Hellickson for Dionner Navarro, getting some short-term catching help. I also dumped Addison Reed to the Reds for a minor prospect in a pure cost-cutting move. I got this message when that occurred:
Which, considering that actually happened last week, that was definitely not the reaction. There are some strange quirks in OOTP like this, but they all make sense within the game. If you turn on "Commissoner Mode" at any point, you can edit players, teams, etc, and the player ratings are very in depth, from their current to potential talent on the field, to how they react to things off the field, to how well liked they are by fans. In this case, the latter portion was slightly inflated.
Mirroring this season, I relegated Aaron Hill to a bench role. Unlike this year, computer Hill wasn't happy about it and demanded a trade. Like this season, it was hard to find a trade partner.
Suuuuure Brian, you only just sign them to long-term deals. Sometimes you get trade offers from other teams that are very... hopeful
Dude trying to save his job right there.
So how did my simulation of the 2015 Diamondbacks go on the field? Pretty well. I was able to get into the Wild Card Game, but ultimately lost to the Pirates. But, to get to the Wild Card Game, had to do a play-in game for that against the Cubs, because of a bullpen meltdown on the last day of the season against the Astros. Had any of this happened in real life, this website would be a crater.
It didn't look good against the Cubs (Who had traded for Justin Upton mid-season, because why not?), but speaking of bullpen meltdowns...
(Yes, we live in a simulation where Yasmany Tomas turned into Hank Aaron for his rookie season, suspend disbelief)
Even though the season ended the next game, if it were to happen in real life, you'd probably be happy about it. For prosperity, this is how the rest of the playoffs shook out:
I've really only scratched the surface of this game in this review. There is also a realistic Draft, with slot bonuses and everything. You have international free agent spending limits, players being posted in the offseason, and so much more. If you're a hardcore Baseball nerd type (And if you are reading this website on the regular, that is highly probable) OOTP 16 retails for $39.99 at Out of the Park Developments or on Steam.
One last thing: Sometimes you feel like starting a game as the Atlanta Braves, because you reeeeeallllly wanna check something that's been bothering you for a few months.
Huh, you don't say.