OOTP 17 Review: Management Revolutionized
Chad Whitney / Apr 5th, 2016 1 Comment
Out of the Park Baseball 17 isn’t your typical sports game. It is more of a sports management game similar to Football Manager and EA Sports’ NFL Head Coach. These games put the player in a premier front office position, where their main objective is to acquire the right personnel to win a championship.
This is perfect for baseball because it is a statistician’s dream, especially with the rise of analytics in modern baseball. Players tendencies can be identified simply by reviewing a few numbers on the back of their baseball card. This is where OOTP 17 shows its strength.
As can be assumed, gameplay is a lot different than games like MLB The Show 16. Upon starting a new game, users select to play with current or even classic teams, taking over the role of GM, owner or both. That means baseball fans have the opportunity to right the wrongs of the Steve Bartman fiasco of 2003 or simply take their favorite team in history to the promised land by making a few trades or calling up a player that may have been overlooked.
Authentic minor league rosters are available alongside the full major league squad, so the possibilities are nearly endless. The user is given an unparalleled amount of depth when it comes to controlling the team.
There are some minor updates to the presentation and the addition of the Players Association license, but there doesn’t seem to be many significant changes to OOTP 17 aside from the roster upgrade. Point-and-click gameplay works relatively well. Users choose to play the game pitch by pitch, at-bat by at-bat, inning by inning, or simulate full games at a time. Micro-managers will be able to tell a pitcher what to throw and a hitter when to swing away or take a pitch, but the simulation level is based on each user’s choice.
No matter how you simulate the game, OOTP 17 will simulate the result of the at-bat using the attributes given to the players. While I played, even the best hitters struck out an excessive amount of times, which can be a tad frustrating when a simple flyball to the outfield would score a run. That said, for the most part, the game accurately reflects the players based on stats and projections.
A Numbers Game
Presentation isn’t particularly important in a game like OOTP, but the way the menus and gameplay look is certainly a way to judge the game. Now, player icons move to the ball during simulation, making it easier to track what’s happening during simulations. 3D Mode has been updated, allowing for a more ESPN-like game presentation. The announcers are pretty good at keeping track of the game, as they verbalize what is being said in the rolling text between pitches. It really helps bring life to what can be a slow, not-so-interactive experience.
The presentation is more prevalent in the main team hub. Users navigate through pages reminiscent of MLB.com team websites, except the contents are relevant to what a front office would need. Frequently viewed pages are remembered by the games engine. Due to the amount of depth in management options, navigating the menus can be a bit difficult, so that feature really helps simplify things and speeds up the pace of the game.
Also, users have the option of generating faces for the player stats page, and the result is absolutely hilarious. The MLBPA license was acquired for OOTP 17, but the results are mostly caricatures of your favorite players. With the slow pace of the game, the added humor of player models is actually welcomed.
Overall, Out of the Park Baseball 17 is the best sports management simulation on the market. It can be slow and long at times, but baseball fans will appreciate the authenticity and pseudo-realistic outcomes. Sports simulations tend to rely on how good the user is at the game, making it very easy to turn a great team into trash and vice versa. But OOTP 17 is more than that. It lets the players on the field play to the best of their ability, relying only on the user to put winning pieces in the right place. It requires a deep love of the game and stats, but it is a fantastic game.
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