Game Review: Out of the Park 13

Posted by Paul on April 18, 2012 | Short Link

Full-length game reviews have been planned as a regular feature of the site since OneForFive.com first launched in November. As our very first of (hopefully) many, I’m proud to have this opportunity to review a pre-release version of Out of the Park 13 (OOTP13). I hope you find this review interesting and informative.

Before this, I’d never played any previous version of the wildly popular Out of the Park series, so I had no idea what to expect. What I’ve found is a game that is addicting and offers endless replay opportunities.

Out of the Park 13 - start screen

OUT OF THE PARK 13 (OOTP13) REVIEW

WHAT IS IT?: To paint the game with a broad brush, OOTP13 is a baseball simulation game tailored mainly to the General Manager experience. Within this, the game’s text-based baseball simulation delivers the opportunity to play individual games and accumulate statistics over the course of a season and even a career. If you’re familiar with the Football Manager soccer games, I think it’s fair to say that OOTP13 is the baseball equivalent in terms of design and quality.

The game is available for PC, Mac, and Linux.

WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN YOU BUY IT?:

If there is a more incredible value in the simulation game industry, I’d like to know about it. OOTP13 gives you the ability to play with every historical roster season from 1871 to Opening Day of 2012. It has real player and team names and statistics, but logos, player photos, and uniforms all have to be downloaded from third-party sites. The game makes this especially easy, however, by linking to downloads, forums, league pages, and user-created mod databases directly from the start page of the game.

In addition to every Major League historical roster, the game has a fictional world that is quite popular among OOTP aficionados.

HOW DO YOU PLAY?:
The game offers more game modes than I was able to try, even with almost a month of play under my belt.

You can play as a General Manager of a Major League team – any team in history – and control all of the team transactions, from callups, to assigning players to the DL, to placing your 26 year old middle reliever who is out of minor league options on waivers so that he may be released. Then there is the draft and negotiating with draftees. Offering contracts to potential free agents, negotiating trades with other GMs, et cetera. All of this while the season is going on.

Simply drag & drop a player to move him between levels in your organization - but be careful, the game tracks service time, option years, and contract status

The game also gives you the opportunity to actually play the games in a text-based simulation that can be played pitch-by-pitch, at bat-by-at bat, or can be auto-played up to any point in the game with a click of a button.

The game also gives you the opportunity to actually play the games in a text-based simulation that can be played pitch-by-pitch, at bat-by-at bat, or can be auto-played up to any point in the game with a click of a button.

There is a full commissioner mode, too, where you can control all of the league’s goings on, even controlling transactions and lineups for all teams, if you so choose, Mr. Selig.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS GAME?:
Anyone who has ever enjoyed a computer baseball simulator will love this game. In fact, I daresay, this is by far the best baseball simulator for computer that I’ve ever played.

Don’t make too much of my qualifier “for computer” in the previous statement. I only say it because I still prefer the tactile experience of rolling dice and reading results off of a card to playing games via computer.

 

Which leads me to the next question (more after the jump):

WHAT IS THIS GAME MISSING?:

As a die-hard fan of card & dice sports simulations, the one aspect of the game that I just couldn’t (and still don’t) understand is the engine by which individual matchups are won or lost.

For instance, we know that each player is rated on a variety of different attributes. Hitters are rated 1-20 on Contact, Gap Power, Home Run Power, Eye/Discipline, and Avoiding K’s. Pitchers are rated on Stuff, Movement, Control, and Stamina. I think we should be able to assume that a hitter with good ratings will do better against a pitcher with lesser ratings.

But how does the pitcher/batter matchup play out? What is the mechanism that determines whether a player gets a hit or strikes out? It is not apparent to me, but perhaps a reader or OOTP fan can shed some light on that subject. To me, lack of a transparent game engine is a huge turnoff, typically.

Batters are rated on a variety of attributes, but how each helps determine the outcome in any single at bat was a mystery to me

HOW STEEP IS THE LEARNING CURVE?
Other reviews I’ve read have touted the new User Interface of this game (when compared to previous versions) as a great upgrade. I can’t speak to that, since this is the first version of Out of the Park I have ever played. I can say that the User Interface is reasonably intuitive and was easy to grasp for a first-time player like me. The learning curve for figuring out how the game works was reasonable. I had my first league up and running within just a few minutes.

The learning curve for becoming any good at the game, for me at least, has been steep. So far, I’ve found I’m more Jim Hendry than Billy Beane as a General Manager, but I’m having fun while improving.

IS THERE AN ONLINE COMMUNITY OF ENTHUSIASTS?
This question was never important to me until recently, but I’ve found that my gaming experience – even with solitaire card & dice games – is richly improved when I find a strong community of fellow enthusiasts of whatever game I happen to be playing.

Out of the Park has a huge following. Famously, even Curt Schilling has professed a fanatic devotion to the game. But beyond celebrity endorsements, the game’s community has a terrific forum where tips for noobs and advanced users alike are shared.

There is an online mode of the game, too, which I haven’t had time to experiment with, but look forward to getting involved in soon. Some of the online leagues boast fictional worlds with teams and managers spread around the globe.

SUMMARY:
Out of the Park 13 (OOTP13) is a computer baseball game that simulates the General Manager experience better than any other game in its class. It offers greater value than any other game, too, in that every Major League season from 1871 to the present is available to play and is included in the price of the game. The replay possibilities are literally endless.

If you’ve ever enjoyed a computer baseball simulator, you’ll LOVE OOTP13. It might not be for you if you are more interested in the mechanics of any single batter/pitcher matchup, but for the full experience of running a team this game can’t be beat.

The User Interface makes gameplay simple, even for beginners. The online community is helpful and offers many great mods available for download, as well as online leagues in which one may participate.

TL;DR
Out of the Park has knocked it, um, out of the park with version 13.

RATING: 4.25 (of 5)

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