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Out of the Park Baseball 18 (PC) Review

May 29, 2017 | Posted by Armando Rodriguez
9.5
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Out of the Park Baseball 18 (PC) Review  

 

Out of the Park Baseball 2018 is the direct follow-up to Metacritic’s PC game of the year for 2016.  The game is a complex but extremely fun baseball text-based simulator that has been favorably compared with Football Manager as one of the best games in the genre. If you are here to determine whether or not this game is good, then you can stop this reading this review right now, because it is.  If you are here to determine whether or not this game is worth the purchase if you already own last year’s version, then keep on reading and decide for yourself.

First, let me get the basics out of the way. OOTP 18 is a text-based baseball simulator that allows you to control a team’s every aspect, from signing players to adjusting lineups, making trades, adjusting ticket prices, setting game strategies and more. You can play with the 2017 MLB rosters, complete with every team’s minor league system. If MLB is not for you, then you can manage a minor league team, a team from one of several independent leagues in the US and Canada or a team from international leagues like Japan, Korea and Cuba.  I am still sad that Puerto Rico’s Winter League is not included though. You can also choose any MLB season from 1871 onwards in the replay mode and try to change history. If for some reason this is not enough for you, then you can create an entirely fictional baseball universe! There is so much to do and so many options that realistically you can buy OOTP 18 and never have to buy another game again, since with so many variables it provides infinite scenarios to play. New this year is the introduction of the Negro Leagues to the replay mode, with accurate historical rosters.  Not only can you manage those teams, but it creates even more interesting scenarios, such as creating a tournament of the best Major League Teams and the best Negro League teams of any given season to decide a “real” World Series champion.  With over 150,000 real-life players across history at your fingertips, the possibilities are really endless.

 

You can do as much or as little as you want when playing games. As a matter of fact you can choose to sim every game and just make the big picture decisions if you like.  If you choose to coach you can not only decide lineups, but also tell players to try and steal base, take a pitch, call for a hit and run and so on.  You can also choose to see every pitch or go with the default “one pitch mode” that decides an entire at bat in a single turn.  There are also plenty of simming options, from half inning to the entire game.  The in-game text is varied and very descriptive, making you feel like you are inside the game. Also, contrary to most text-based games, OOTP has an excellent audio presentation. The sound of bat hitting ball is amazingly realistic, the crowd cheers and boos accordingly and more. As far as the sound goes, it is one of the best in any text-based sim I have ever played.

The newest addition to the game modes is Challenge Mode. In this mode your stats are compared online with OOTP 18’s entire current player base to determine the ultimate manager!  In order to make it fair, you are prevented from using commissioner mode or any other features that might be considered “cheating”.  Although it does not fundamentally change the way the game is played, it is very rewarding (and humiliating) to compare yourself to other players around the world.  It also comes with its own series of Steam Achievements tied to it, giving achievement hunters another incentive to play.

Another new addition is the World Baseball Tournament, essentially a non-licensed version of the World Baseball Classic, allowing you to take control of national teams and compete against each other. I had a blast playing as Team Puerto Rico even when I could not recreate their magical run.

The game’s presentation is top-notch as far as text-based games go. The interface is clean and colorful and the 3D mode has been vastly improved.  Although the players still look tiny, the simulation is smoother and faster than last year in 3D mode. While last year I avoided the 3D mode due to its somewhat sluggish pace, this year it has become my go-to mode when playing.  Although commentary still falls behind sometimes, the graphical representation is more accurate to what the text is describing. Some of the most common bugs last year, like balls being hit randomly into space (never seeming to fall anywhere) are completely gone as far as I can tell.  The menus and the overall user interface is colorful and clean and jam-packed with information, sometimes overwhelmingly so.  Outside of Football Manager, there is no other text-based game with this much eye-candy. It feels like the premium product it is.

My biggest gripe with this game and most text-based titles in general is that they require serious commitment to learn. OOTP 18 is extremely complex and detailed, including many of the rules for trading and signing players, waivers, rule 5 drafts and more. Even I, who have played OOTP for years and I have more than a cursory knowledge of the sport of baseball, find myself struggling with some concepts. While the game does include links to a series of video tutorials on how the game is played, it covers mostly the basics.  You will need to learn a lot by playing, through trial and error and by doing independent research online. It will be too much to ask the development team to explain everything, but it doesn’t change the fact that the game is not easy to get into. Once you learn, it becomes increasingly addictive, but it certainly requires patience.

9.5
The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Out of the Park Baseball 18 is a deep and rewarding baseball management game that is unlike any other in the market.  The biggest competition for the OOTP series is how good every entry is: Those who own OOTP 17 can recreate hundreds if not thousands of baseball scenarios and don’t really NEED OOTP 18. I believe the additions of Challenge Mode, Negro Leagues and World Baseball Tournament in addition of hundreds of under-the-hood updates makes OOTP 18 worth a purchase even if you own the previous versions, but a lot of fans will be content with sitting this one out. Thumbs up for OOTP 18.
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