Those that have been following us for a while know that we are huge fans of the Out of the Park Baseball franchise, and OOTP has really outdone themselves with their latest version. As always, the level of detail is unbelievable, but one of the underrated parts of their program for me are the quotes and trivia tidbits that you see while the game is loading and simming. For example, with this year's version I learned why the bullpen is called the bullpen. It seems that in Cincinnati in the 1870's there was a billboard for the Bull Durham Tobacco Co that stood above where the pitchers warmed up. For me, baseball is just as much fun for diving into its rich history as it is for the exciting athletes who play the game today. But anyone can dig up historical trinkets, where OOTP really sets itself apart is the depth of its sim and its constant striving for excellence.
The first thing that sets this year's edition apart from previous iterations is that, for the first time ever, OOTP has a license from MLB. What that means is official logos, and not just the current ones. Every logo of every franchise it now available. Want your Mariners to sport the old trident unis? Or think the Padres looked best in gold and brown? Now you can do it with ease.
As always, OOTP offers full roster sets, from the major league club all the way down to the Dominican Leagues, with ratings based on PECOTA, to ensure that sims are as accurate as possible. Last year saw them expand to include many international leagues, and with OOTP 16 we get full independent leagues with real rosters. Now you can find the next Daniel Nava.
Another area that OOTP 16 makes great strides is by expanding the depth of their front office options. No longer is your team owner some vague suit that would fire you for your first losing season. Now he has a personality and interacts with you through a series of goals that help you mark your success, or failure.
Often included in these goals are certain financial targets, which you have the ability to achieve based not only on your ability to field a winning team while staying within budget. Now you can set ticket prices that have a real impact on things, including season ticket sales.
Also included in the front office revamp are robust manager ratings and temperments. Want a manager with a strict, demanding personality, or a pitching coach that can help your young flamethrower reach is full potential? Now you can see a manager's tendencies before offering him that contract. You can even see which strategic elements he's dead set on, and which areas he's willing to listen to your input.
All this, of course, is icing on the cake that is the best, most detailed, most accurate sim in the business. You can let the season run its course, or choose to manage each game of the season, even including the full minor league seasons. And should you find yourself in the midst of a playoff race come September, OOTP has added a new playoff chase screen where you can follow your teams odds of success day by day, game by game; even compare the strength of your remaining schedule against that of your rivals.
The final new feature I want to touch on is the Hall of Fame voting. In the past, you could either let the system decide who gets elected based on preset criteria, or you could force a play to be elected. Now, though, you can be a part of the voting. Take the PED dilemma into your own hands and fight for Clemens, Bonds, etc. or help them to wither on the vine. Either way, you have a voice to shape the Hall how you want.
What I didn't focus on this year is the meat and potatoes of OOTP, but rest assured this product is as robust as ever on that front. But for fans of the series like me, the exciting part of each year's effort are the new and innovative features and OOTP 16 delivers as always.