Not everyone out there is going to be as excited as this reviewer to play Out of the Park Baseball 14, the latest super-sim baseball “statstravaganza” from Out of the Park Development. But those special folk out there who live for offseason player movement and development, rummaging through pages of stats and comparisons, and the subtlety of smart lineups and game preparation are in for the tastiest treat of their gaming life.
Rather than a typical experience of being an athlete, OOTP14 provides a fully immersive managerial experience, handing players control of line-ups, trades, call-ups, demotions, scouting, and all other tasks performed by the masterminds who make the great teams great. Players can choose to play in the modern day or in any historical season from 1871 on, using real-life transactions or mapping their own. Players from every era can be fantasy drafted into the current MLB, allowing players to see how Nolan Ryan would do in the Majors today. Players can choose to manage a team at the level appropriate to them, from handling the substitutions for AAA Arkansas to being an unfireable GM for the powerhouse Yankees.
While the logos and stadiums of MLB teams aren’t licensed, the rosters are authentic and up-to-date. The MLB assets and other modifications are only a click away from the game’s homepage, provided by a team of dedicated OOTP fans and players working as a community to improve the experience for all. These and many other modifications make for an even deeper OOTP game through user teamwork.
For the latest edition, OOTP Developments has recoded the player origins, expanding international and amateur league scouting and the first-year player draft. Also changed are the character creation and development system, allowing for smarter career arcs and stats and better long-term development of players who often switch positions as their ages progress. Also improved is the AI for trading, negotiating, and evaluation, as well as new play-by-play commentary and improved depth charts.
Once you get comfortable with all of the options and screens and start to get the ball rolling on a season, you’ll get the chance to reveal just what fun options this game allows. One of the first things I was able to do was play the 1916 season as the Red Sox, changing Babe Ruth to a hitter and changing the entire trajectory of the Yankee and Red Sox organization. What if Hank Aaron played in the steroid era? Who would get the upper hand in a matchup between Ted Williams and Justin Verlander? OOTP14 allows players to answer those questions and countless others with painstaking accuracy.
Out of the Park Baseball 14 has multiple modes of play, and also allows online leagues, letting players group together and manage their respective teams competitively. Players can brag to other players through recaps of big games and share the experience of season building and managing with friends. With thousands of real season scenarios and the freedom to completely create your own baseball world, there is infinite ways to play and replay.
No frills, no gimmicks, no nonsense, Out of the Park Baseball 14 is such a true-to-form sports experience that its complicated gameplay and plain-jane delivery becomes refreshing and exciting in a world of big graphical spectacles. While OOTP will never take the place of games like The Show and MLB 2k, it can supplement those gaming experiences and provide a different take on what the baseball world is all about. Playing this game will make you beg to the heavens for a basketball or football simulation with the same attention to detail and authenticity provided in OOTP. Fantastically fun and perfectly challenging, Out of the Park Baseball 14 is a must own for any baseball wonk.