In this day and age, fancy graphics have often taken precedence over strong gameplay. However, there’s a segment of the gaming population that still believe that graphics may wow people, but it’s the gameplay that keeps them coming back and that’s exactly what Out Of the Park Baseball 14 (OOTP 14) brings to the table.
As I played this addicting game, I kept asking myself, “I wish I had this game when I was a kid.” Seriously, OOTP 14 really sits you down and shows you what it’s like being a general manager of a baseball team. Want to play with the big boys in the MLB? Just remember, you’re not just dealing with the parent club, you have to make decisions for the entire organization, all the way down to rookie ball. That’s how deep OOTP is. Do you want to be the general manager of a farm club? Don’t get too comfortable with that lineup you’re trotting out every day, as it’s bound to change when players progress or players from higher up get injured and the team needs a replacement.
So what’s new from last year? Firstly, I’m enjoying the completely recoded player origin system. There are five ways for a player to come into the league: First-Year Player Draft, International Amateur Top Prospects, Established International Free Agents, International Scouting Discoveries, Players from Independent Leagues. These backstories encompass pretty much the entire gamut of how players enter the MLB.
Personally, I’ve enjoyed the New Fielding Ratings Development System, which is effectively a progression system that aims to simulate how players grow out of positions or change positions based on their fielding numbers. For examples, many times good hitting catchers who suffer from poor defense will no longer stuck behind the plate, they can learn and thrive at another position (most likely first base, third base, or right field).
One new feature, albeit minor, that many fans of the series have clamored for is a better trading AI. In particular, CPU-controlled teams no longer try to trade the same player over and over again, after the invention of the “Not interested in Player X” function. I much-needed and much-appreciated featured addition to the series.
Just like in real-life baseball, it’s the little things in the game that define a player’s legacy and Out of the Park Baseball ’14 does just that. For instance, the depth chart offers more flexibility to add LOOGYs, a preferred pinch-hitters and pinch-runners in the appropriate situations. The level of customization is outstanding. There were times I tinkered lineups for hours and didn’t even play a game on the schedule. It’s ridiculous how far into the game you can go without even playing the actual scheduled games.
On the flip side of the coin, first-time entrants into the series will undoubtedly be overwhelmed. Being a GM, manager, or owner in this game is hard work, but it’s also rewarding when you can figure your way out of sticky situations. Managing morale, injuries, and salaries of over hundreds of players and coaches, while maintaining scouting prowess in each area of the world is a daunting task. Thankfully you can automate most of these, but what fun is that?
Since we don’t review many games here at CttP, we don’t have a rating system. However, I recommend this game and series to anybody who loves baseball. Casual baseball players might not appreciate all that OOTP 14 has to offer, but the hardcore fan will surely sink hours upon hours into this game and won’t come up for air. As we wind down the MLB season, I would recommend OOTP to help you through the winter months. The OOTP community is robust and has add-ons and plug-ins to make the game as realistic as humanly possible.
Despite the huge learning curve, OOTP is well worth the effort, as you’ll be rewarded for the time you put into the game.