Baseball is a sport slowly being taken over by nerds. There are still athletes on the field but the nerds in the sport are making the decisions on who those players are. Out of the Park Baseball 14 (OOTP 14) is the perfect game for those baseball-loving sports geeks.
OOTP 14 is a professional baseball sim that allows players to call the shots in the role of head coach and GM. Each team is complete with a fully accurate roster, minor league system and scouting department. It is up to players to use those tools to build a dynasty.
The game gives baseball fans a chance to back up their trade talk and end arguments of how certain players would perform in a different era. A myriad of gameplay options and customization settings provide players with endless possibilities and maximum replayability. Combined with a dedicated modder community, OOTP 14 is the most extensive baseball game on the market.
At its core, OOTP 14 is a simple baseball sim. There are no lifelike graphics or perfect game challenges. In fact, the game lacks an official MLB license. While real team logos and stadiums are not used, players featured in the game are accurate. Thanks to the OOTP 14 modder community and an intuitive menu system, users have easy access to update their version of the game with team logos, Major League stadiums and player skins.
Actual gameplay in OOTP 14 is only text-based. Players advance through seasons by running simulated games. Users who decide to play each game will be faced with every imaginable managerial decision, from setting up the lineup to calling for a pitch-out. Managers must use their players carefully as the game factors in usage and fatigue. For instance, using a pitcher too much could result in elbow problems down the line.
The MLB season is a grueling 162 games so OOTP 14 offers players a chance to skip through parts of the dog days of summer. Hardcore players might sigh at the chance the A.I. will spoil their hard work. However, skipping through games in OOTP 14 is an art form more than a hindrance. A full suite of managerial sliders and settings allows players to adjust the A.I. so that it makes similar decisions when games are simmed. Part of the draw of OOTP 14 is to build up a franchise into a dynasty. The wealth of managerial options allows players to experience that thrill without the disappointment involved when skipping through portions of the game.
In addition to serving as head coach, players take on the role of team general manager. This is where OOTP 14 truly shines. The game covers every aspect of an MLB front office accurately. Waiver transactions, player options and arbitration are all recreated with the same rules followed in professional baseball. The game delivers a true MLB sim and makes fans realize the life of a GM is not as simple as it sounds.
OOTP 14 lets players choose to start as in the bigs or play through a realistic career experience by starting off in the lower minors. If users so choose, they must work their way up the ranks and earn the respect of Major League ballclubs.
Players are also allowed to create their own squad with new uniforms and locations, pick up where classic teams from 1871 to 2012 left off or insert historical players into different eras. Users can even create entire fictional leagues and enter baseball legends into a fantasy draft.
There is a steep learning curve for new players in OOTP 14. In that sense, the game’s myriad of settings and options is both a gift and a curse. While the extensiveness of the game is quite satisfying, being able to use all of it takes time and discovery.
Immediately upon opening up OOTP 14, players are bombarded with buttons. The main menu interface is simple and user friendly but the gameplay screen can be overwhelming to new users. Menu buttons that run across the top of the screen can be clicked to open up even more menu options. Shortcut buttons for the manager, team and league pages are found along the right side of the screen. Additionally, each page offers its own tabs for the game’s various gameplay options.
It all sounds to be a cluster of menus and buttons but is about what one would expect from a game so extensive. Once users settle in and begin exploring the features of OOTP 14, the menu system becomes more and more appealing.
Controls while managing a game are easier to learn and, for the most part, are straight forward. Widgets throughout the screen display the game action and let managers follow their players closely. Making substitutions and warming up pitchers can be a bit of a chore as users are required to click on a new tab while the game action is put on hold. Overall, simulated games are quick to get into and fun to play.
OOTP 14 is far and away the most extensive baseball sim offered in gaming. While MLB 13: The Show provides a more classic gaming experience, the text-based gameplay in OOTP 14 can be equally as satisfying. Baseball fans who argue their team should trade away a certain player or think they can do better in the role of GM are finally able to prove their case in OOTP 14. The learning curve in the game may be as brutal as Clayton Kershaw’s curveball but the end result is an entertaining experience with a wealth of options for all types of players.