Posted by Retrokaiser On Monday, October 26, 2015 0 comments
Out of the Park Baseball 16 (16 as in 2016) is a sports simulator (a proper simulator, not a novelty game parading as one) that has you taking the role of a baseball coach in the MLB (Major League Baseball). This is a game where you're not just taking control of the current roster as you have a large roster of teams and leagues from across all eras of baseball history. If that's not enough, you can create your own teams and league and become the ultimate coach of your very own make believe league. Will this game make you get out of the park and run for home to get to your computer? Or will it be a strike out? (Sorry for the painful puns and the out of left field apology). Find out after the jump and you might be pleasantly surprised with what I have to say about this game. (Click on "Read More" to read the full review).
I really do enjoy how you have a choice to be a coach from a number of many different years, many different eras, covering the golden age of baseball all the way up to the okay modern times of baseball as it is fun to not only revisit history, it is fun to rewrite it. With each era you choose to play, you also get all the players that played for those teams at that time. This edition of the game is officially licensed by the MLB themselves and that's pretty good as you get a more authentic feeling to your coaching experience. You aren't just limited to the MLB as you can pick other teams from other leagues and other countries, so that means you can coach teams from Japan, Korea, Italy, and even Australia. This wide variety of teams is excellent and adds even more detailing to a game that's incredibly detailed as it is.
Another great thing about the team selection is that you do not need to use any of the official baseball teams, you can use your own created team created from scratch. Heck, you even get to create your own baseball league complete with its own logo. My complaint about setting up a custom team is that it can get a little frustrating getting the names to stick and the reason why is that you must hit the enter key after you have typed up a name. Pressing enter isn't the frustrating part though, the frustrating part is that it is very easy to forget to do so as you'll be too deep into creating teams to remember to do so.
I found myself using the customized teams just about as much as the official ones (hard to believe, I know) as coaching the official teams is good for if you want something serious, while coaching the custom teams is good for if you want some silly fun. I've found myself having many dream games of rival gaming companies having their flagship characters going at it against one another and it is a fun thing to see. You can also have the custom teams go head to head with the official ones and all I have to say is, I can beat the Yankees with a team made up from my fellow friends and co-workers (BOO YEAH).
The options you have for your team in this simulator is so plentiful to where I can't even name them all, so if you are a hardcore baseball fan then this is the game for you. Some highlight options include the standard training and trading of the staff and players but a very unique one that's in this game is the option to make baseball cards of all your players. But what if you are a more casual player that doesn't want to spend hours fine tuning your team and just want to see your team climb the ladder and win the pennant? Well, this game will also appeal to the casual market as this game also has some friendly options, so you do not need to spend hours prepping your team and just get straight into the action.
The coaching doesn't end at the managers office as you get to take full control of the team during the games themselves. Whether the player is on pitch, on bat, or in the outfield, you can control every single thing that they can do. Granted, you are not doing it in an action way like the arcade styled baseball games, you get to control them by clicking on option boxes instead. This is a lot more fun than what I make it out to be as the detailed options will really drag you deep into the game due to how fun it is. If you don't want to play a whole game then you can easily skip to any inning in the game or even skip to the end of the game if you choose to. Having the game automatically play will more than likely make your team win every time but where's the fun in that? The trial and error in picking your own plays is the way to go as it is fun learning from your mistakes and learning the way of the coach, plus it is very, very, very satisfying having your team win based on your own decisions.
This edition of the series has an all-new experimental feature added and that's a commentary mode that reads out everything that happens in the game for you. The commentary feature is a little disappointing as it is just the generic voice from the text-to-speech option that we've all played with as a kid... Or you could say that it's Arbiter from the classic machinema, Arby and the Chief taking his time to give back to the people after Chief has done something that got them into trouble... Yeah, that's a bit of a stretch. The feature does end up growing on you due to how bad it is, in-fact you'll find it especially entertaining when you are playing with all your custom teams, especially when you've got your friends around with some drinks. While this feature is a bit rough, I can see this feature getting more improved and fine-tuned over the next few editions of this simulator.
The presentation of this game is split into two parts; first you've got the managers office that is designed to look like a setup of an office computer, then you've got the games themselves and they are just a simple map of the field. The managers office look does capture the feeling of being in an office with the use stat screens, spread sheets, and E-mail. This office look can also lead to some confusion due to the options being all over the place, so it'll take some time getting used to it but once you know where the essential options are, you shouldn't have a problem working the game from there. The most confusion I've had with the managers office was with all of the icons on the right side of the screen as they were tiny and also a chunk of them weren't very self explanatory, so you'll have to click on them and see what they do without knowing what they do. I like the coloring in the managers office, the colors look really sharp and clear and that'll help ease the confusion a little due to being able to see the icons clearly.
The presentation for when you are in a game is very simple as it is just a layout of the baseball field. There are other things surrounding that field including the scoreboard, player stats, a grid view of where you are pitching the ball, and the sports commentary. I really liked the look to it as it was very clear as to what you are looking at and it also had a retro feeling to it just like if I'm playing old baseball games, with better definition that is. A complaint I have is that if you are not good with the names of your players, you'll be a bit confused to where your player are as the names of your players can tend to be placed very close to the players from the other team, so you won't be able to tell whom from whom unless you are playing a game with a custom team, where you named the players yourself. A gripe I have about playing games from the olden times is also a nitpick at the same time, my one gripe/nitpick is that I'm pretty sure that games before the 1970's and 1980's didn't play The Stroke by Billy Squier or the song, Miracle Man by Ozzy Osbourne when a team's best player hits the plate.
If you own the previous game in the series and are sad that you might have to start from the ground up, do not worry as you can import your save from the previous game and pick up from where you left off. This game also has the most fun load screens that I have seen in a long time as the load screens are full of interesting baseball trivia. Sure, that won't be the case for everyone but I do like having little novelties to help make the load screen time seem faster. This is a game that you'll be spending a lot of time in due to how addictive it is and that goes for both hardcore and casual fans. The only real thing that'll put a stop to your enjoyment is for those who don't want to take some time to learn the basics of how the menus work or to those that do not like baseball what so ever. The pricing of this game is also quite steep so you might want to wait until it goes on sale, especially for a game that comes out yearly.
Overall, this is an incredibly fun and detailed baseball simulator that'll draw you in and keep you occupied for awhile. Heck, this is all coming from a guy that isn't all that much of a fan of sports simulator games and so me saying that this is a top notch game sure does say a lot. Brilliant sports sim.
Game: Out of the Park Baseball 16
Developer/Publisher: Out of the Park Developments
Genre: Sports, Simulator
Price: $39.99 (Steam)