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Out of the Park Baseball 20 (PC) Review

April 25, 2019 | Posted by Armando Rodriguez
Out of the Park Baseball 20
9.8
The 411 Rating
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Out of the Park Baseball 20 (PC) Review  

Game: Out of the Park Baseball 20

Developer and Publisher: Out of the Park Developments

Platform: PC

Genre: Sports Simulation

Release Date: March 22, 2019

 

We are almost 70 games into the 1996 baseball season and my Texas Rangers are up six games in the West. It wasn’t easy and I am sure I must come off like a gambler to my fellow GM’s. Recognizing the staff was weak, I have been intensely pulling off moves to try and get us a stronger staff. I dealt a prospect to Pittsburgh for Danny Darwin. That failed. I dealt another prospect to the Mets for Rick Reed. That has worked thus far. Then I pulled off the biggest deal of the season yet: I sent Will Clark (and his expensive 3-year contract), Mickey Tettleton, Ed Vosberg and a couple of two-star prospects to Pittsburgh, my old friends, for Zane Smith, Dan Plesac, Orlando Merced and AA reliever Elmer Dessens. My fans hate to see both Clark and Tettleton leaving. I somehow fix my lineup with this deal and I feel happy about it. Finally, I can get Juan Gonzalez out of right field and to DH. Finally, I have a solid left-handed reliever. I also added another arm to my staff. Then I turned Danny Darwin into a reliever. Then I nabbed David Cone and his 6.68 ERA off waivers (sorry Yanks).  I win 10 straight games. Pudge and Gonzalez sign their extensions and the fans are thrilled to have the two biggest stars in for the long haul. Of course, this is followed by a five-game losing streak and a season ending injury for Rusty Greer. Such is life in the majors. Such is life in Out of the Park Baseball 20.

What can I say about OOTP 20 that I can’t say about the last 3 entries in the series? It I still the deepest, most ambitious, realistic and comprehensive baseball simulator out there. It still has over 100 seasons of baseball that you can replay, with real-life rosters and the most accurate simulation engine for all baseball eras.  The simulation engine allows you to see the action unfold on the field. You can play as just the GM and carry on with the big picture stuff, or you can also be the manager and tell your guys to bunt, steal bases and pitch around that dangerous cleanup hitter. You can be as involved as you want, or simply set a lineup and sim everything. It doesn’t matter your style of play, OOTP 20 will burn those hours away and before you realize it is 3am and you are debating whether a trade for Jacob Brumfield might be enough to offset that Rusty Greer injury.

The sheer amount of customization options is ridiculous. You can replay every season exactly as it happed (great for historical replays) or let it play out as the AI and the simulation engine take care of it (my choice of style) and change history. Heck, the tools are there for you to start your brand-new baseball universe from scratch, with fake players and teams. Want to create the Premier League of Baseball? Well, you can!

If you like the modern game better, then you can play the current season either, from scratch or, thanks to the new live integrated services, on today’s date with accurate rosters, injuries and transactions as they have happened during the season. Maybe you can turn around the Boston Red Sox or keep the Mets pumping wins. The modern game also includes 12 international leagues and several US independent leagues as well. Not only can you play the MLB games, but you can choose to manage any minor league team or any team from any of the independent and international leagues as well.  You could literally buy OOTP 20 and never have to buy another baseball game again.  I have already put over 40 hours into it and have not even reached the halfway point of my 1996 season save.

Another mode in OOTP Baseball 20 is Perfect Team, which is the typical collectible card game mode found in most sports titles nowadays since Madden introduced the mode. This mode allows microtransactions as you can buy currency used to buy player packs and cards in the auction house, but I have found that I can field a good team without spending any money. Since achievements, accolades and milestones, not only in Perfect Team, but also on every single player mode, gives you coins (and some of them packs) and the prices of the auction house have stayed fair, you probably wont need to invest any real-life money if you play the game enough. Cards from modern players will even see their scores raise or lower due to the live-integrated services according to how the player is doing in real life.  I like perfect team as a fun diversion that I can invest 15-20 minutes a day in and then resume my single player experience.

Graphically speaking, the menus are clean, and the interface is well designed. It is one of the prettiest text-based games out there. The 3D animation engine is miles better than it was a few years ago, although it still has a few hiccups. For example, sometimes a ground out to third base is animated incorrectly with the ball going all the way to left field, which causes the runner to walk his way to first in order to allow the animations to catch up to the actual simulation engine.  Worse still, sometimes the shortstop or third baseman walks all the way to the field to retrieve the ball and do the ground out throw to first. Sure, when this happens it throws you off from the realism, but it only happens once every few games.  Still, seeing a home run go over the green monster in Boston or a shortstop make a great diving stop is much better than reading about it. Only Football Manager has a better animation engine and with the work OOTP has done over the years I am sure they will work out the kinks and smooth it out over time.  Also, major props for the animations team, as this year not only do you get diving catches, jumping to steal a home run or head first slides, but different pitching motions have been accurately captured, which is amazing for such tiny figures.

OOTP also boasts a comprehensive sound effects package that truly captures the atmosphere of the ballpark. The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the umpires yelling “Out!” and Take me Out to the Ballgame playing in the middle of the 7th inning are among the highlights. Not only are you reading what’s happening, but you can see it and hear it too. That’s why OOTP is my favorite baseball sim.

The game’s AI has also been vastly improved and always posses a challenge, especially during trade negotiations. Every deal I have made has made me second guess my decision multiple times before the trade button is pressed.  AI managers will also propose some ridiculous deal (sure, a 1-and-a-half-star prospect for my best catcher) to see if you bite. In game they make accurate substitutions and utilize relievers and pinch hitters effectively. The AI also recognizes the era you are playing in, for example, leaving starters longer during the 90’s and using more relievers per game in modern times.  You will also see teams in win-now mode dealing prospects for veteran help and teams rebuilding dealing all their vets for prospects and cash.

Now, there is a learning curve to this game. If a rule exists in MLB, then it exists here too. Careful management of waivers, minor league options, Rule 5 drafts, rehab assignments and more is necessary to get the most enjoyment out of the game. Luckily, the game has plenty of FAQs and explanations online and as always, you can get as involved as you want to, designating some of the more cumbersome tasks to the AI and just managing games if that’s what you want.

9.8
The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Out of the Park Baseball is a dream come true for fans. Outside of Football Manager, there is not another sport simulation that is so deep, realistic and well designed as this one. Years of updates and polish combine to make an experience unlike any other. Like the previous entries in the series, OOTP 20 comes highly recommended. Two thumbs way up for OOTP 20.
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