Out of the Park Baseball 15 (PC) Review
Posted by Gavin Napier on 04.19.2014
Out of the Park Developments is the king of baseball sims, and they're back with the latest entry! How does the newest version stack up the the classics of years past and is it accessible to newcomers? 411's Gavin Napier checks in with his full review!
Title: Out of the Park Baseball 15 Publisher: OOTP Developments Developer: OOTP Developments Genre: Sports simulation Players:1 Rated: E for Everyone
I discovered Out of the Park in 2001, alongside Football Mogul. That's where my love of sports sims began. Through the years, Out of the Park has consistently outpaced the competition, creating a baseball simulation that's so authentic it can be a little bit breathtaking, if not altogether intimidating.
The latest version of the game marks the first time I've revisited the series in about five years, and my how things have changed. The game almost defies belief in terms of the sheer volume of information that's available. In addition to running a simulation that puts a player at the head of a Major League Baseball franchise, OOTP 15 incorporates no less than a dozen leagues from around the world that players can scout and sign from. Beyond the international leagues, the game boasts a full array of minor league teams, from triple A all the way down to the Dominican leagues.
The nice thing about the game is that even with all of the information, it remains completely customizable. The game world is as large or as small as you choose for it to be. If a player is content to simply manage an MLB team and doesn't need all the extras, then the game is sufficient to entertain fans of the genre for hours on end. If a player falls into the number crunchers category, loves playing "moneyball", and wants to experience the grind of working up from the very bottom of the ladder in baseball management, the game has them covered as well.
There is the option to play each game individually, on a pitch by pitch basis. This allows a player to control literally every aspect of a team from the financials and contracts down to baserunning and pitching strategy. It's a good way to become familiar with a roster before setting strategy, but unless someone is incredibly devoted to simulations, it would be a tedious way to play through a season. The other side of the coin is simulating anywhere from a single day to an entire season with one click. The only interruptions will come from injuries and roster transactions that require lineups to be adjusted. Even then, bench coaches or managers can designate rosters and rotations with only a couple of clicks.
It's worth noting that the version of the game that I reviewed was a beta, and there were still some bugs to work out. There was no way to adjust the game down from a fullscreen setting. That's not so much a problem as an annoyance, and one that I feel fairly certain that will be worked out by the time the game is available for download. A quick trip to the official OOTP forums reveals developers and designers that are very open about where the game is in terms of development. They're seeking feedback on what's going wrong in the beta versions of the game and are addressing them as quickly as possible.
I also experienced issues with a "soft freeze" of the game. When advancing from a game back to the menu, the only way to move things forward was to hit the "windows" key on my keyboard, then reenter the game. The same was true of making a call to the bullpen. Beyond those small issues, the game ran flawlessly.
The graphics and sound aren't anything to write home about, but they don't particularly need to be for this genre. I often play games such as OOTP while a movie is going or while listening to podcasts. In other words, the sound would be muted anyway. The menus, while simple, are nice and clean. There's nothing to complain about visually.
Out of the Park 15 appeals to a niche market. Admittedly, sports sims aren't for everyone. If you find yourself falling into the category of gamers that do enjoy these games, OOTP won't disappoint. It improves on all of the things the series has historically done right, and comes across with only minor glitches - again, in a beta version - to show for it. If you've played the series before and haven't checked in for a while, it's worth the money to download this updated version. The gap between OOTP and the other sports sims on the market is widening with every year.
Simple, clean, and they do their job.
As sports simulations go, you won't find deeper or better gameplay.
There are some crowd noises and chimes, but nothing special.
The enormous game universe allows for multiple replays with no depreciation of fun.
You're not picking this up if you're not a fan of the genre. If you like the genre, you'll love this.