OOTP 18: The Review

It's that time again; OOTP season is here! Every year I think they've pushed things about as far as they can, but every year they manage to introduce amazing new features, and this year is no different. 

By now, you know that OOTP is the best baseball simulation game available anywhere. Their robust engine, exhaustive roster sets, immersive strategy options, and limitless set up options are still there, as always, so let's look at what's new.

This year they've included some of the best historical players you've never had a chance to play with before. Ever wanted to see how Satchel Paige's career might have turned out? Or what Josh Gibson would have done against Lefty Grove? Now you can, because OOTP has added full Negro League rosters. You can break the color barrier any time before 1946, too, so you can see how things might have been.

Also new this year is Challenge Mode. Challenge Mode locks down many league settings and other options. Trading difficulty is set to hard, scouting is mandatory, and the player and coach editors are limited, among other things. You’re also limited to simming a week at a time during the regular season, although you can zoom through longer stretches of time during the offseason. I personally haven't tried this mode yet, but those I've talked to who have say the word "challenge" is an understatement. This really puts your armchair GM and manager skills to the test.

Other new features include the addition of tournament play. Recreate the World Baseball Classic or the Olympics. This new mode includes options for round robin and double elimination tournaments, too.

Also new this year is the ability to set up relegation and promotion style leagues. This is perfect for those fans who say team is so bad even a AAA team would beat them. Now you can actually see the worst teams in the league have to deal with the embarrassment of becoming a minor league team.

Probably the two newest features I'm excited about are the ability to retain player contracts in trades and a revamped player chemistry system. With the ability to retain part or all of contracts in trades comes much more flexibility when working through your roster. Have an aging veteran you need to trade but you're not getting any traction in negotiations? Now you can offer to pay part of that players salary to either make the trade more palatable to the opposing GM or to entice them to add that stud prospect you just can't seem to pry away from them. And with the new player chemistry system comes a dedicated screen that shows you just how much influence every player has, both positive and negative. No longer do you have to guess who the clubhouse cancer is. Combine this with the contract retention feature and it's now much easier to make the changes necessary to keep the party going in the locker room.

Usually I'm the type of person that sticks with one version of a sports game for years. I still have Madden '08 and MVP Baseball 2005. But year in and year out OOTP compels me to go with the newest version, and OOTP 18 is no exception. Go get it today. You won't regret it.


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