Publisher: Out of the Park Developments
Developer: Out of the Park Developments
In a roundabout way, Out of the Park Baseball 15 has me really excited for Football Manager Classic on the PS Vita to make its way over to North America.
Admittedly, it's not hard to get me excited for anything on the PS Vita. But in this case, it's particularly apt. Both OOTP and FMC, after all, are PC-based sports management sims, with the key difference — apart from one being about baseball and the other centered around soccer, obviously — being that the latter recently launched a handheld edition which features full cross-save capabilities, allowing PC gamers to bring their games with them on the go.
OOTP Baseball, of course, doesn't have this option (unless the developers are vastly underselling what OOTP 14 can do). But the more I play it — and the more addicted to it I get — the more I really, really wish I could've taken my game with me wherever I go. I get that there are all kinds of technological and financial reasons why OOTP 15 is PC-only, but still: if ever a game was made for bringing with you wherever you want, it'd be this one.
Complaining about what OOTP 15 can't do, however, is a little churlish, particularly in light of how much it's capable of. First and foremost, it allows you to dig down deep into everything a baseball franchise does — signing free agents (both the regular and international kind), drafting and developing young talent, setting your line-ups and pitching rotation, setting ticket prices, swinging trades, and so on. Basically, if the first thing you do when you get the newest version of The Show is start remaking your roster, then you know exactly what's in store for you.
Don't make the mistake of thinking this is just The Show without fancy graphics, though. No, OOTP 15 promises you can build your own baseball world, and it allows you to do just that. Want the Expos to stay in Montreal? You can do that. Want to take control of the National League from its birth in 1876 and guide it through to the present day? You can do that too. Ever wondered how the 2000 Colorado Rockies would fare in a neutralized run scoring environment? That's an option too, though I have to say that that's a lot less fun than playing around with the Baseball Reference's Neutralizer tool and seeing some of the crazy numbers it churns out. (Seriously: just go look at Barry Bonds' lifetime numbers set to 2000 Colorado. I'd say they're video game numbers, but I've never seen numbers like that in a game. But I digress.)
If North American baseball isn't your thing, you can try your hand in one of seven other leagues around the world — because really, who doesn't want to play Dutch Honkbal? And if reality in general isn't your thing, you can also create fictional leagues with up to 50 teams.
As expansive as the game is, however, it's not without its problems. Most notably, OOTP 15 is slow. Very, very slow. Some of that is inevitable, seeing as the game is constantly generating leagues' and leagues' worth of scores and stats, but it still feels like, far too often, you're waiting for one screen or another to load (especially when you're loading, saving or quitting a game). On an odder note (for lack of a better description), the game's AI is a little weird at times. I mean, I'm not complaining that it let me trade Dioner Navarro for Andrew McCutchen, nor would I mind if Colby Rasmus really was willing to resign with the Jays for $7 million a year, but seeing as McCutchen is the reigning NL MVP and, post-Ellsbury-to-the-Yankees, Rasmus is sure to get paid exponentially more than that when he becomes a free agent at the end of this season, it does take a little away from the sense of realism the game is trying to convey.
They don't take away from the fact this is still a very fun, highly addictive game, though. Out of the Park 15 allows you to tinker around with baseball rosters and line-ups to your heart's content — assuming, of course, you have a super-nerdy, sabermetrically-oriented heart. It won't be 100% perfect until you can take it with you wherever you go, but in the meantime, it's still pretty awesome.