Out of the Park Baseball 5 Review (PC)
If a text-game comes out in the underground, does it make a sound? This is the answer that approaches .400 software every spring when they release their next version of Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP). You won’t see any commercial saying “If it’s in the game…..” or see a “Guru” trolling the boards to spit on the competition. So, can version 5 stand up to mass scrutiny that is Operation Sports and make a “sound”.
Everything that made OOTP4 so great is back. If you are wondering what that is, go read last year’s review. Marcus kept everything in that gamers liked from last year and added so much more. First thing you will do is create your own league. It can be a standard MLB league, historical, or custom. Being the history lover that I am, I decided to start my league in 1962 using the newly formed Mets. With the add-on of the Lehman Database, the user can import the teams and players from any year in the history of baseball. I have found that pre-1900 imports don’t work as well, but that still gives you more than 100 seasons. The league options are the same with number of teams, divisions, team names, rules and such. This year, the user has the option to have the draft in the preseason or in June. Nice touch.
The big innovation is the user interface which makes it 10 times easier to navigate with ease. The team at .400 software has made all names in the reports and news that the user can view linked to an HTML-type display. If one of your players went off and hit 4 homers in a game, you can click on his name and a box will display his ratings, stats, and particulars. The only thing that I don’t understand is why the names in the “player development” report are not linked. If you get the message that X player has improved his homer talent, wouldn’t you want to be able to click on his name and see the effect? Maybe this can get fixed in a patch.
For the first time, players are judged on a star system this year. Each player is given an amount of stars based on current ability and future promise. This helps the user to narrow down his search without having to go through every prospects profile and ratings. A great sort feature during free agency and the draft.
Another personnel addition this year is arbitration. Players meeting certain veteran criteria will qualify for arbitration. Basically, if you don’t cut these guys at the end of the year, an arbitrator will assign a salary for your team to pay to him.
OOTP5 introduces a manager mode. Basically, this mode makes puts you in the shoes of a major league manager. You can get fired or get a raise, just like a real one. Your manager will also be able to start relationships, get married, and have kids. This has no real impact on your managing ability, but a fun little side project!
OOTP5 also features improved play-by-play, player development algorithms, and other improvement to an already great franchise.
The OOTP series is also the most widely used sim engine for online baseball league (the author is in 5 of them!).
The game comes with an easier font for your eyes, which is important after playing this for 5 hours straight. The game comes with 3 different skins to give your eyes some variety and many in the OOTP community will be making their own skins for your downloading pleasure. If you run the game in 1024x 768 mode, the text becomes very, very small and hard to read.
Usually, I have a smart comment hear about audio, but OOTP has crowd noise and baseball sound effects that accurately correspond to the play-by-play. Players have walkup music that adds to the effect that you are in the ballpark.
The game is great, an improvement over yet another stellar OOTP product. The above complaints will probably be taken care of with a patch before the season even starts! (The first patch came out 3 days after release). The game is not perfect as it introduces new things, but it is starting to come closer and closer to baseball nirvana. A must buy!