Out of the Park Baseball 16 (OOTP16) has been available for a while now, but I’ve held off posting a review until I could spend some decent time with it. A game as deep and rewarding as this can not be fully be appreciated with just a few hours of gameplay…in fact, you could play this game for years and STILL be surprised at the events that unfold in front of you. That’s always been the allure of management games for me; no matter how much time you put into them, they keep giving you a different emotional experience every time you play. All it takes is a little imagination to totally immerse yourself as manager/general manager of your favourite baseball team, though if you rely on high end graphics instead of imagination to do that sort of thing you may as well check out of the review right here.
The Football Manager series of games has always been held as the pinnacle of sports management games, and only recently has it included any sort of 3D graphical engine into its game to show the on-field action. OOTP16 has a crude 3D graphical representation of the game as it is being played, but as I mentioned at the top of this review, it’s all about using your imagination (at least it is in my years of playing these games) and overlooking the graphics and concentrating on the deep content and incredible ebb and flow of your ongoing career.
To tell you how to play the game would mean writing a review of novel length proportions, so I’ll hand that part over to the very useful YouTube tutorials at the bottom of this page. What I will tell you though is my experience with the game so far.
OOTP16 is the first time that the franchise has got the official MLB licence and it was an absolute pleasure to take charge of the Pittsburgh Pirates. As a fan of the Steelers for over 30 years, I always default to any Pittsburgh team (I even went to Pittsburgh and saw the Pirates play a home game many years ago…they beat the Philadelphia Phillies). The game doesn’t limit you to just MLB teams though and you can take control of teams from leagues around the world.
You have the choice of being the Manager, Manager/GM, GM, or Commissioner….I chose Manager/GM.
The customisation options and sheer depth of information presented to you can be quite daunting at first, but it is all laid out in a logical and easy to follow GUI. My knowledge of Baseball is nowhere near as how au fait I am with the NFL and so I was relying heavily on the stats presented for all the players; as opposed to how I’ll be going more with a ‘gut feel’ when Out Of The Park Developments NFL game ‘BTS Football’ is released. Having to rely on the stats is no bad thing though as there are a multitude of them for you to scour through, and of course the customisation options allow an incredible amount of decisions to be made for you should you so wish.
You can literally spend hours of your time micro-managing your team before you even get to the first game, and this just adds to the elation/deflation of your win/loss as the changes you made take effect on the screen in front of you. The sheer satisfaction of a last innings home run to win the game will have you off your chair in celebration, while a crushing loss will have you running back to the drawing board seeing what changes can be made in personnel or tactics. I unfortunately suffered quite a bad losing season but my off season trades are beginning to pay dividends as I’m currently part way through season 2 with my beloved Pirates.
The wins and losses that occur never seem random or predetermined; every result can be attributed to how you’ve managed your franchise both on and off the field. Some people scoff at management games and call them nothing more than an interactive spread sheet, but in all my years of gaming it’s always been management games that have immersed and elated me more than any other, and OOTP16 doesn’t disappoint.
If you have any interest in Baseball and/or management games, then OOTP16 is a must buy. It has an initial learning curve that may be off putting to some people, but if you have the patience to stick with it then you will be well rewarded. These games are the best value for money that you can buy, and if ever stuck on a desert island with just 1 game to play then OOTP16 would be a worthy companion.
I will also mention here that Out Of The Park Developments also have a Baseball game on IOS and Android called MLB Manager 2015. For the bargain price of £3.99 you get yourself a portable gaming experience that offers a lot of similar features to the PC game.
Now it’s time to see if I can get the Pirates into the World Series!
Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) with thanks to Out Of The Park Developments.