Out of the Park Baseball 6 Review (PC)
The “Out of the Park Baseball” series has been the holy grail of text-games for the baseball genre. Each year, Marcus Heinsohn and his team find a way to make this game better. This year’s game in the sixth installment of the series and introduces a whole new ratings system and other tweaks to its gameplay. “OOTP6” has been programmed to bring more realism, more variety, and a more consuming game engine to the series.
Although the game has been reworked, the purpose of the game is the same. The user’s job is to take a franchise of their choice and make a winner out of it. The user does this through the draft, free agency, and now the Rule 5 draft. The Rule 5 draft is a new feature that is nice to have although getting someone who will make a difference in your team is very rare. The amateur draft has also had a makeover. Players now either come out of high school or college and it is up to the user to look at his numbers and level of competition and make a decision on whether to draft the prospect or not. Teams also have to fork over a signing bonus to the top picks in the draft, forcing some GMs to take into account their cash situation before drafting. Users still have control over resigning a player, ticket prices, and promotion in an attempt to cut costs and maximize revenues. A waiver system has also been introduced this year.
The ratings system in “OOTP6” has also gotten a facelift. Gone is the “avoiding runs, hits, walks, etc.” Now the pitchers have three categories that better describe their true attributes: Stuff, Movement, and Control. Sure it’s nice to have a pitcher with a great movement rating, but what if he has a horrible control rating? Do you want to roll the dice on that guy? If you don’t enjoy the new rating system, “OOTP6” gives you the option of using the former rating system.
The GM AI for computer run teams is much improved this go-round. The CPU will now take your team’s weaknesses into account when making a trade offer to you. For example, I needed some rotation help and during spring training, my email box was filled with multiple teams ready to ship some excess starters to me in exchange for prospects or one of their holes that need to be filled. It also seems that it is much harder to “rip off” the CPU in trades. Players are also allowed to trade cash to sweeten the trade and hope to pull it off.
The in-game, or managing AI, also seems to be much better. In the games I played, I saw a lot more double switches and pitchers being brought in at the right time. For the first time since I’ve started playing this series, I actually saw a pinch runner being brought in late in a tied ballgame. Users will find the in-game interface and options very similar to past editions of the series.
Another new feature in the game is a “recovery” system. In past years, once your player took a ratings hit, he was done and would never regain his old form. Now, players can take a ratings hit and regain their skills later on in their careers. Sometimes you will see lifelong journeymen, get a talent increase in their 30’s. It happens just enough where it seems very realistic.
The one drawback of the game is the amount of time it takes to simulate a month and a season. I have a fairly good computer in terms of processor and RAM. However, it takes forever just to simulate a month of playing time. I couldn’t imagine trying to run this on the computer I have “OOTP5” on. I might still be in the month of May!
The game’s interface is very user friendly. I was able to hop around from team and player pages to league wide reports without even having to go to the menu bars. Most items of interest are linked for this purpose. The game is also easy on the eyes, meaning that my eyes didn’t hurt after extended periods of play.
Since “OOTP2”, the online community has skyrocketed for this series. On the internet, one can find rosters (both current and historic), skins, background and stadium pictures, and music files for the game. Many of these are very well done; some are even on a professional level. The Company’s forums are always alive with talk about replays, career mode stories, and even suggestions on how to tweak the game.
Online leagues are a huge plus for this game. I am currently in six leagues and this version makes it the easier on commissioner and owners. Owners are now able to release and put on waivers their own players, instead of having to get the commissioner to do it. Spring Training schedules can now be exported to the league’s FTP server. Commissioners have more options this year with their leagues. They can turn the “star” system off, have only the player’s talent ratings be visible and their actual attributes hidden. Plus, everything from individual owners is completely importable, making it a lot easier on the Commish to get all the lineups, etc. from owners and get to the simming.
In the world of text-based gaming, this game is, once again, one of the best around. Between the single player offline and multiplayer online modes, you will easily put hours and hours into this title. While it does run slow on most computers, you'll find this game well worth the wait. With a laundry list of new features, including the new draft and waiver system, an already great series just gets deeper and more realistic.