Out of the Park Baseball, or OOTP, is a long-running baseball simulator (not really a game, per se) with a ridiculously in depth level of detail. You can set everything from lineups to ticket prices. You can install yourself as a franchise President of Baseball Operations and manage a team from the 30,000 foot view; or as a bench coach in the minor leagues where all you get to do is what you're told.
You can run wild in actual historical settings, putting Ty Cobb alongside Rogers Hornsby and Joe Jackson on a powerhouse 1915 Phillies team; you can mix and match with Ed Delahanty next to Richie Ashburn and Mike Schmidt in a 1990s batting order; or you can create entire fictional universes where the Moon has been colonized and transplanetary baseball is somehow a thing.
Do you want to set the Gdansk Danzig against the Moonbase Exterras in the Legit League of Tenuous Plausibility? Knock yourself out!
The most common mode, at least for this author, is the historical simulation. Playing as the Phillies, I like to take either the current year and move forward (the game ships with complete rosters for 2016 as of a few weeks ago, with some assumptions/guesses to fill in the gaps), or to jump back a couple years and try to do better than the admittedly low bar of 2013-2015. In a prior version of OOTP, I once ran the Phillies for nearly fifty years, from 2010 to 2055, at one point winning six or seven championships in a row. Conversely, I also once had a 25-137 season, so, you know, there's that.
On the surface, OOTP 17 is much the same as last year's version, but closer in, the improvements start to add up.This year's installment of the best baseball simulator on the market is better than ever.This year's installment of the best baseball simulator on the market is better than ever.
First, the 3-D model is much improved. It still isn't anywhere approaching an actual 3-D rendered game like MLB The Show, though it doesn't pretend to; rather, players are represented by little animated pegs that bob around on the field.
Another big change is the addition of an MLB Players' Association license, in addition to the MLB license. That means that, while actual imagery isn't used, the Facegen substitutes aren't nearly as creepy.
Still creepier than the real thing, unfortunately. Nevertheless, it's an improvement.
The software still uses Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projection system for real players, translating into a 20-80 or 0-100 scale behind the scenes. The very complex editor included in Comissioner Mode (no cheating, now) lets you edit everything from a player's height, weight and hometown to his expected future batting eye against left-handed pitchers.
Speaking of real players, not only are all currently active Major Leaguers included, but so are over 2,000 more minor leaguers and tens of thousands of retirees, foreign players and future prospects.
Jason Groome, for instance, is included, and his scouting report reads thusly:
Watch this space.
Gameplay: 65/80 The learning curve for the most in-depth features is a wicked 12-6, but once you've figured out the basics, they're rather more straightforward. The default settings and league templates mean this version should be easier for a rookie to pick up.
Graphics: 60/80 OOTP doesn't have state-of-the-art graphics, but it's not that kind of game. If you enjoyed Strat-o-Matic or the old Earl Weaver Baseball, this is your jawn.
Realism: 80/80 OOTP is the most realistic baseball game there is, outside of an actual baseball game. While you could certainly hire a bunch of players and run your own game that way, this is the next best thing, and significantly cheaper.
Overall: 75/80 Still the king of the hill when it comes to baseball electronica, OOTP is well worth the price.
Out of the Park Baseball is available now for $39.99 on Windows via direct download and Steam, and Mac and Linux platforms. In addition, the same people are responsible for the mobile game MLB Manager 2016 for iOS and Android platforms, which is a similar, if simpler, version.