It has now been a few months since Out of the Park Baseball 17 was released and l have been holding back on publishing my review of it. Like a fine wine it gets better with age, thanks to the in-depth gameplay that keeps bringing up new surprises the more you play it and the constant support from Out of the Park Developments, who deserve every accolade for the way that they listen and respond to their gaming community.
Out of the Park Baseball 17 is a management simulation where you take control (in various levels, depending on how much control you want) of your favourite Baseball team. Don’t have a favourite Baseball team? Well this is just what you need to immerse yourself into the world of MLB. Out of the Park Developments has the complete MLB licensing package which means that every team, player and detail reflects its real-life counterpart.
As always I immediately enrol myself at the Pittsburgh Pirates and begin to assign different auto-controls to suit my gameplay. Newcomers may well be slightly daunted when confronted with a screen full of stats, but Out of the Park Developments have made some tweaks from last years game that makes navigating the menu systems that much easier. It is also well worth taking the time to set-up what you want to manually control and what you want the AI to do for you. The permutations of how you want the game to play are virtually endless and you can change the settings at any time when you feel more confident it taking on more responsibility for the team yourself.
I should also say that it is not just about taking your current MLB team of choice through many seasons, as you can also create your own Baseball world complete with the fictional structure, teams and players of your choice, play a game or series between any historical teams, or play any historical season between 1871 – 2015. Out of the Park Baseball 17 has more depth than the Pacific Ocean and consistently rewards you with new and interesting gameplay mechanics for every hour that you put into it. Be aware that this is like a time machine; you fire up your PC/Mac to play a game or two, then get sucked into changing your players around due to injuries or lack of form, then you dip into your emails and catch up on league news and events, then you want to test out your changes and see how they work in the next game. Before you know it, what was once nighttime outside has now given way to the early morning sunshine…but at least you got another few wins under your belt and are now that much closer to making the World Series.
It would take a review of many thousands of words to cover all the intricacies of Out of the Park Baseball 17, and even then I’m sure that I’d get back into the game and it would surprise me with yet another gem of gameplay that I hadn’t discovered so far. This is one of those rare simulation experiences (I refuse to call any of Out of the Park Developments products ‘video games’) that sucks you into its world and gives you a sense of agency whereby each and every decision you make reflects realistically to the world that you are in. Some may question the graphical depiction to the action on the field during a game, but that aforementioned sense of control and realism that has already been created, means that it is not necessary to have 60fps, HD, motion captured players running around the diamond; your imagination creates a scene that is far more realistic than any graphics card could put on screen. I also love flicking between the broadcast view of my current in-play game and the Network view of all the other games being played. It creates a fantastic feeling of tension as the season is coming to a close and you’re keeping an eye on the teams who are either just below or above you in the standings.
If you have any interest in management simulation I can heartily recommend this to you, whether you are a newcomer to Baseball or a dedicated MLB fan, this will most definitely reward your time with an enthralling and entertaining experience. As far as ‘bang for your buck’ goes, this has to be the bargain of the year. You’ll have to excuse me now, as I’m 1-2 down in the Division series and need to make a few changes in the hope of overcoming this deficit.
Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With)