Sports and management simulation games have enjoyed a bit of a resurgence, thanks to the massive amounts of memory and processing power available to games these days. This has allowed them to greatly increase the complexity without torturing players with horrific loading times. Out of the Park Baseball 16 takes the already-insane amount of detail and depth for which the series is known and ratchets it up to the max.
OOTP 16 is the latest entry in the long-running baseball management sim franchise, and it is by far the most fully featured and realistic effort yet. There are more real-life leagues available to choose from than ever before, ranging from the familiar MLB and NPB to the Korean, Mexican and even the Cuban professional leagues. Also present for the first time are the logos and branding of MLB and its minor league systems, current and historic. For the more statistics-inclined fans, the stats and projection engines are powered by Baseball Prospectus, a sure sign that realistic and accurate simulations and projections are a focus of the developers.
One of the great things about OOTP 16 is that you can play it in so many different ways. You can take on the role of a rookie manager and work your way up from the lower leagues to the majors. You can manage the greatest dynasty the KBO has ever seen. You can take over the 1899 Cleveland Spiders and see how long it takes you to turn around the worst team in history. Or you can create your own, new fictional league of any size with any set of rules you want. Want to create a new professional league in Britain, complete with future expansion possibilities across Europe? Maybe even a network of leagues across the entire globe, ending with a true World Series each year? The world is your oyster.
There are also varying scopes of management. For people who truly love the micromanagement, you can control every single decision for every pitch and at bat of every game for the team you manage. If you’re more of the strategic, team-building type, you can leave the tactics to the AI and focus on wheeling and dealing your way to the best team in the league. If you’re more interested in simulating entire leagues or histories just to see how things pan out and just drop into things at a more detailed level when something interests you, you can play in Commissioner Mode, which lets you take control of any team at any time.
If you want to play OOTP with your friends, there’s an online mode available, letting you all take control of your own teams and see once and for all who is really better equipped to run a baseball franchise. The game even has an option to let the commissioner post reports and standings online, so that anyone can check in on the league even when away from the game.
The one downside to OOTP is also one of its greatest strengths: the sheer vastness of the stats and facts and details and options available. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of statistics tracked and stored on individual, team and league levels. It’s daunting to go into this morass of data, and even when you know what all the acronyms mean, you can easily get lost if the details. It takes time to be able to grasp where all the information you may want to see can be found, and putting the time in to do so isn’t for everybody.
The customization, historical accuracy and range of options from current reality to total fiction make Out of the Park Baseball 16 a premiere entry in the sports management genre. It’s not for everyone, but Out of the Park Developments knows its audience, and has delivered superbly on fans’ expectations.
Pros: Incredibly detailed simulations, adjustable level of micromanagement, tons of customization
Cons: Easy to get overwhelmed by the vast amount of information