didn't quite happen as planned. However, in the baseball world I did see something that I believed was about as close to perfect as possible. That was Out of The Park Development's OOTP12 baseball game. It was a very realistic simulation that included all the details of running a major league franchise. "Best game ever", I proclaimed, and many others echoed that sentiment. Well, I recently got my hands on this year's version of the game, OOTP 13, and incredibly IT'S EVEN BETTER!
Let me start by recapping what this game does, for those of you not familiar with sports simulation games. This is not a flashy graphics arcade action console type game, where those with the quickest reflexes can win. It is a game of wit and strategy. You play not in the role of a batter facing a 90 MPH slider, but rather as a GM who gets to draft players, sign free agents and make trades.
You also have to deal with the financial side of running baseball operations, including setting budgets for scouting and player development, and setting ticket prices among other things. As a manager you get to set lineups and pitching rotations and set in game strategies (to a very detailed level - for example, you don't just set the frequency of sacrifice bunting - you can set it differently based on inning and game score situation. So you may opt to never bunt unless it's the 9th inning or later and you are trailing by a single run). These are used when you simulate games. You can also play the games as manager and make play by play decisions such as steals, pitch outs, substitutions, defensive shifts and so on. You can play the game as a 2012 MLB team or pick any team from any season. Want to see what would happen in the 1920s if Boston keeps Babe Ruth? Start with the 1919 Red Sox and don't trade him. Want to see how Joe DiMaggio would have enjoyed playing his home games at Fenway? Start in the late 30's and see if you can trade for him. Maybe the Yankees will take that Williams kid in return. Want to recreate 2011 and see if this time the Red Sox can hold a September lead? (Note: I did that. We ran away with the division. John Lackey won the Cy Young. Sigh....)
What is great about this game is the level of customizations and the tweaks you can make. You can set up your own league with whatever number of teams, divisions and playoff teams. You can use the existing MLB set up and tweak typical things such as home run rates and injury frequencies or totally revamp it with salary caps.
It is a great game for the truly analytical baseball fan. You make lineup decisions not based solely on back of baseball card stats like batting average, RBIs and wins, but it includes the full gamut of modern SABRmetric stats encompassing wOBA, WAR, ZR and even CERA among others. At the same time, you can enjoy this game without ever knowing what any of these acronyms mean. Even a causal fan doesn't need to know what Jacoby Ellsbury's VORP is, to know that there is no way that Nick Punto should ever be leading off for the Red Sox (are you paying attention, Mr. Valentine?)
Anyhow, most of the above applies to last year's version as well. When I launched the OOTP13 version I noticed some positive modifications right away. The user interface, although still easily recognizable, was updated and improved, making the navigation much smoother. There is a new manager screen which puts the most relevant things you need to know easily accessible. Many of the other changes are under the hood. Last year, after playing a while, I learned how to trick the AI into agreeing to trades that benefited my team, but I haven't been able to do that yet. There are a myriad of other changes as well. Take a look a the following links for more details:
The New GUI
Real Time Simulation
If I had scored last year's game I would have given it a 10/10. With the improvements to the latest version, OOTP13 scores an 11/10. The worst thing about it? It is highly addictive. Enjoy!
You can buy a copy by clicking on the link below.