Game: Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP) 2016 (website)
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, mobile
Release Date: 2015
Techgraphs score: 4.3 or 86 B
OOTP is our most reviewed and highest reviewed game of all time. It takes all the high-level problem solving of a real baseball front office — salary management, roster management, owner expectations, and so on — and somehow condenses them all into a single game. The game is addictive. It’s fantastic.
That said, I’m trying to review this latest edition as critically as possible. And it’s hard to critique something you’re hooked on. But the game does have some flaws, and I will address those. But overall, it’s another excellent submission to the OOTP franchise.
Graphics: 4.0 stars
Let’s face it; you’re not going to play OOTP for the graphics. The only 3D component of the game — an optional view for the in-game management — leaves a lot of a room for improvements. It’s not really a problem, per se — more of a “Where’d it go?” The old versions of OOTP had this realistic face generator. It was really impressive. But I can’t find it among the add-ons now. So we end up with this:
Concept & Game Modes: 4.5 stars
OOTP does a nice job of not stretching itself thin with game modes. The database and formulas that serve as the foundation for this game would not be at their best in a “Path to the Majors” or a work-your-way-to-the-top game mode. So having a single player GM/coach mode and a multiplayer GM/coach mode is probably sufficient to please 90% of fans.
It would be interesting, however, so see an arcade mode — hear me out! The latest changes to OOTP have created a system where the player (you, sir or madam) are given a salary and contract based upon your reputation and recent success. What if the game took a page from the NBA 2K video game series and made those salaries worth something? Perhaps players could spend their salary on negotiation classes, improving insight and success rates during trade or salary negotiations. Perhaps players could spend on charitable enterprises and improve their reputation — thereby unlocking more prestigious managers and executives. Or perhaps players could spend money on special camps that have a chance to boost a few players’ rating in special areas (“Send [these three players] to the Barry Bonds Hitter Clinic? Grants 10% chance for increase in either Power or Eye rating. Cost is $100K per player.”).
This kind of stuff actually incentivizes earner a higher income. And it’s just kind of fun.
Gameplay & Interface: 5.0 stars
The interface hasn’t changed much in OOTP 16, but there have been a few minor tweaks that I think show the developers’ really care about user feedback. Lots of tiny things like:
I’m giving gameplay and interface a perfect score, but a big part of me wishes I could experience it all over with rookie eyes. Of course the interface seems easy to me; I’ve been playing OOTP for a half decade.
Glitches: 3.0 stars
There’s a lot of little things that impede my enjoyment of the game — problems that didn’t exist before. Ratings filters don’t seem to work in the Find a Player section (a great new addition, if it actually worked for me…).
And more than that, the new owner goals feature had serious signs of inconsistency. Several times early in my franchise, the owner could not recognize the fact that I had completed an assigned task:
More troubling, though, is that there are numerous issues with player valuation. The AI does not seem to value pitchers correctly (a lot of trades that should go through, don’t), and seems to struggle to identify medium-quality talent. Either everyone is a five-star prospect or not a prospect at all. In general, scouts seem to have a bad grasp on pitcher value (a starting pitcher with three strong pitches and good makeup will still have a 21 potential on the 20-80 scale).
And then, after several years into my franchise, the talent pool disappeared. International free agents stopped being prospects all together (except for a few hidden gem pitchers who had great ratings everywhere except their potential ratings); the draft only had one or two premium prospects at most (normally the first round should land everyone a premium prospect); and since I had a world of difficulty convincing other GM that their pitchers had differentiating between a prospect and Quad-A filler, fair trades were hard to come by.
Say what I will about the relative simplicity of Baseball Mogul, at least the ratings are close (as close as a scouting system with variability should be).
Rosters: 5.0 stars
This is always the strength, nay, the stupid strength — so strong it’s dumb — of the OOTP franchise. You won’t find a more accurate system of minor league players and managers.
98 A+ Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP) 2015 (PC)
98 A+ Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP) 2014 (PC)
97 A+ Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP) 2013 (PC)
96 A+ Baseball Mogul ’13 (PC)
96 A+ MLB ’12 The Show (PS3)
82 B- MVP Baseball 2003 (PC)
79 C+ MLB 2K12 (PS3, XBOX 360, Wii, PC, etc.)
74 C MLB Ballpark Empire (Facebook)
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