OOTP (Out of the Park Baseball) 13 is a baseball sim for the PC, Mac and Linux. This isn’t the casual sim found within console games such as MLB The Show and the MLB 2K series, this is a sim for the hardcore baseball fan and features just about everything under the sun.
The following review is a mix of game features and observations from a 2012 Toronto Blue Jays simulation.
Depth & Customization
If there’s a #1 feature of the OOTP series it’s the level of depth and customization.
Gamers can select to manage games in levels from rookie league to the MLB. At the MLB level you can take over as GM, having total control over all baseball related activities, including but not limited to coaches (all levels R to MLB), scouting budgets, a 25+ round amateur draft, free agents, trades, team playing style, contract negotiations, etc. Within league settings users can toggle injury frequency, outcome frequency (i.e. league wide HR %, etc), change stadium dimensions, finances, etc.
The rosters for 2012 include just about everyone in an organization. Jays fans will be familiar with this screen shot of the organizations top prospects by position:
At the start of a game as GM you can set the scouting budget for the MLB and for international countries on an individual basis. You may also change the farm systems budget, hire and fire current personal. The makers of the game have done their homework. Even Sal Fasano is heading up AA.
Each organization has a scouting director at the start of the game. You can either keep the current head of scouting or fire him and bring in someone else. For the Jays, Andrew Tinnish is the head honcho.
In a Jays sim, Tinnish or the games central scouting bureau sets player ratings, both current and potential. Here’s Brandon Morrow’s current stats according to Tinnish:
These are just the surface stats, there are more in-depth break downs of players found within a ratings screen. Players also have personality, popularity and happiness rankings. If that’s not enough, each player has a scouting report. Here once again is Tinnish, this time looking at a few attributes of newly signed Jays prospect Roberto Osuna:
Like stats? The game includes standard stats, UZR, WAR, wOBA, VORP, FIP, etc. Career stats in OOTP of Brandon Morrow:
Free agents can be signed via the Free agent screen. During the season the negotiations are relatively easy. During the off-season teams have to take into consideration draft pick compensation (the new CBA is in the game), a player getting bid up by numerous teams, the players ratings, etc. In a few sample sims I’ve been close to an FA deal, only to have another team come in and increase the players overall price.
Trades are executed on a team to team basis or via a ‘shop a player’ feature. Here’s Adam Lind’s trade value at the start of the 2012 season. Thanks, I think I’ll pass:
Player news, including injuries, angry players due to lack of playing time or team success, suspensions, trades around the league and more are sent to a mail inbox. A new feature that I haven’t played with too much in OOTP 2013 are story lines, which is a mini-game that lets you react according to the situation. I don’t have an example of the story feature, instead here’s a league inbox message after a Cubs / Reds brawl:
The game features league leader boards, organization rankings (overall, by position, by farm system), the games top 100 prospects lists and other league news.
In-Season Sim or Gameplay
You have the option to either sim games or play them as an acting manager. The manager option is rather fun. You choose the strategy during the game, including small ball tactics such as base running, bunting, pitch outs, etc. You can also tell players to swing away, set defensive shifts, change pitchers, etc. The manager mode can be played quickly via a one button outcome option or played in a more play-by-play fashion. This is a screen cap of a mid-april game between Toronto and KC:
You can even just watch a game through an MLB.com style webcast. Here’s a Brett Lawrie pitch f/x style location box:
This just scratches the surface. Gameplay options include setting up historical leagues. For instance Jays fans can take over the 2002 club before J.P. signed some questionable contracts. You can create leagues back to the start of the century and at any time have an player pool draft to create your optimal roster.
There are other features I’ve yet to use, such as online leagues. The makers of the game are on top of trends, even including Mike Fast’s new catcher framing analysis into the game.
The game, available on Windows, Mac or Linux doesn’t have any real holes.
I’m not a fan of frequent in-season injuries, although I usually drop down the injury frequency to combat this.
Does realism count as a negative? Players take a little longer to develop and big contracts are hard to drop but that’s baseball.
If I had to list a real fault for the product I would sum it up as: Addiction . There’s so much to do that it’s hard to pull away from the game at times.
Recommendation[styled_list style=”plus_list” variation=”green”]
- Insane Depth
- Great Customization
- Great Gaming Value Per Hour Played
If you can pull yourself away from OOTP 13 and still live a regular life, I give the game a huge recommendation and consider it must buy for baseball sim fans.
OOTP is set to be released in early April for the price of $39.99, available at : http://www.ootpdevelopments.com