Out of the Park Baseball 12
System: PC (also on Mac/Linux)
Publisher: Out of the Park Developments
Release Date: June 22, 2011
It’s no secret that I am a sports stat junkie. See here, here and here. I have been playing baseball simulators for years, and over the last few seasons it has become clear that Out of the Park Baseball is the forerunner in the genre. This year’s version, OOTP 12, was released just a couple weeks ago, and I am pleased to say that this is the best edition yet.
Catered to the more hardcore baseball fan, Out of the Park Baseball 12 is pure statistical bliss. As a predominantly text-based sim, OOTP has a seemingly endless amount of options and features. The game comes with this year’s opening day MLB rosters, and you can even play classic MLB seasons starting from the year 1871. Upon starting a season, you have total control. If you want to, you can make yourself the league commissioner and micromanage every single detail of a season. I prefer to take over a single team, usually my hometown Detroit Tigers, and try to guide them to become perennial World Series contenders.
If it can be done in the world of baseball, it can be done in OOTP 12. The game features a full minor league system with accurate prospects, and you can switch out different lineups against RHPs and LHPs. The amateur draft, Rule 5 draft, the waiver wire and salary arbitration are all included. You can have full control over your team’s budget, right down to manipulating the ticket prices. Seriously, the amount of depth in the game is nothing short of spectacular.
There are several noteworthy improvements in this year’s game. For one, the program’s speed and loading times are significantly improved. This is the fastest loading OOTP yet, and this is a huge plus. The injury system has also been tweaked to be more realistic. Now it is possible for a player to get hurt during a game and not receive an actual diagnosis until a few days afterward. Previously all injuries were determined immediately, which was a tad unrealistic. Another upgrade in OOTP 12 is a revamped financial system, particularly the salary negotiations. This entire setup has been changed for the better, and now players are more apt to request all sorts of performance bonuses and team/player options.
I was also impressed with the computer AI this time around. During the offseason of my imported Tigers franchise, I kept an eye on the free agent proceedings. The Atlanta Braves signed two huge free agents, an All-Star catcher and first baseman. I was concerned by this decision because the team already had quality pieces in place at those positions, and I was worried that those players would be unnecessarily riding the pine. I was pleasantly surprised to see Atlanta trade both of their former starters to other teams while proceeding to acquire players at other much-needed positions. I am currently halfway through the following season, and Atlanta is kicking ass. I love it — smart moves by the AI makes for a more challenging game.
There aren’t many faults with OOTP 12. I noticed some inaccuracies with the opening day rosters as well as some lacking player abilities, but most of these issues were patched up immediately after the game was released. That’s what I love about OOTP — it has a very close knit group of people who work on the game, and they are very active in hearing out concerns from its dedicated online community. I suppose if I were to nitpick about one thing this year it would have to be the inclusion of White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson’s obnoxious “He gone!” into the text play-by-pkay system. I have only seen this once out of at least a hundred played games on my part, but that was one time too many. Obviously this is just my own personal bias speaking, but I just can’t stand the guy.
Minor quibbles aside, there’s no denying that Out of the Park Baseball 12 is pretty damn awesome. It is a testament to the game’s quality that I have to do some serious digging to find any faults with the gameplay. I have spent many, many hours of my life playing OOTP games in the past, and this year’s version is sure to continue that trend. If you have any interest at all in fantasy baseball, statistics, micromanaging or if you enjoy playing MLB: The Show’s franchise mode, then you really ought to give this game a chance. This is by far the best game in the series, and it is worth upgrading even if you bought OOTP 11. Yeah, it’s that good.
– OOTP 12 can be purchased for $39.99 at the developer’s website. There is also a free trial available.