|Min OS X: 10.5|
Mac OS X: 10.5 | CPU: Intel | RAM: 256 GB | HD Space: 1 GB
For fans of baseball simulations, opening day is not when Major League Baseball teams start playing, but rather when the latest edition of Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP) is released. Released nearly annually since 1999, OOTP is the gold standard for baseball sims. The only question that remains is, after all this time, what more could there be to add?
Quite a bit, as it turns out. Rather than a review of the game (see my review of last year’s edition to learn about the game itself) I will discuss several of the new features of game for those wondering whether or not to upgrade. The upgrades cover everything from behind-the-scenes code optimization to new ways of playing and have led some to call OOTP13 the biggest update in years.
Behind the Scenes
Starting from non-gameplay mechanics, the game itself does seem more responsive. I’m playing on the same system (although with a new hard drive) as during my review last year, and I’ve definitely noticed less waiting for the game to open and things to happen when buttons are pressed and menus selected. Because of all the jumping around you do in the game, this definitely improves the gameplay experience. While the developers and others have also trumpeted a vastly improved user interface (UI), I felt that the game UI was relatively the same with a few tweaks. This may be because, as a multi-platform game, it has a non-Mac interface to start with, so changes within this un-Mac environment don’t seem as large.
That being said, there are definitely some changes to the game’s UI, mostly for the better. The main toolbar you use for navigating the game has been moved from the top to the right and the icons updated; this is a somewhat small but perhaps significant improvement as it blends in more when you’re not using it. The newly streamlined Manager Home Page is a definite improvement, quickly drawing your attention to items that need to be dealt with immediately. Even better, many reports which previously displayed your web browser, taking you out of the game, now display within the game’s interface easing the back and forth between screens. Overall, while not a major change for those used to the game’s interface, the changes do improve the flow and ease of use.
In addition to up-to-date rosters as of the start of the 2012 baseball season, OOTP13 adds a couple of interesting gameplay options. One is called Random Debut Historical League Mode; in this league, you can start at any point in major league history and the rosters and/or draft pool will be filled with a random selection of players from throughout baseball history, all coming in at their appropriate debut ages. This can make for the creation of a fun, hybrid team, with players from all over baseball history working together. A warning, it might not work out as well as you expect. And don’t expect to be able to put all your favorite players together on a team; remember it’s a random selection. Still, this mode definitely adds a new and fun method of play and is of course endlessly re-playable as you’ll get different players each time.
The other major addition to gameplay is Real-Time Simulation Mode (RTS). Instead of only being able to jump into a single game, RTS allows you to play the simulation in real-time, following all the games as if you were watching through ESPN’s or MLB’s website/mobile app. Just like in real life, you can jump in and follow any game, and go into your team’s game and manage it the old-fashioned way. When you leave your game, you’ll automatically be back in RTS mode. This can be an nice way to move things along while you go about your GM duties, letting the action play out in the background, jumping in if you need/want to, and adjusting speeds as you go.
If you spend all offseason waiting for the next edition of OOTP, or continue playing your leagues in the offseason while waiting for the update, OOTP13 will not disappoint. Everything you like is still there, sometimes in more easily accessed and viewed form. The new gameplay features add significantly to the already high replay value, giving you almost boundless options for creating and running your leagues, without taking anything away from the existing game. If you’re new to baseball sims, OOTP13 is the place to begin. From up-to-date start of the season 2012 rosters to options for mixed historical leagues, make-your-own rules leagues, and just about anything else you can imagine, OOTP13 is the go-to game for baseball sports sims fans.
• Up-to-date rosters
• Proven track record
• New gameplay modes add even more value
• Somewhat improved UI and performance
• Interface still not Mac-like, takes some getting used to
• Occasional small performance issues
• Potential major time sink
Steven Marx has been playing games on the Mac since his brother brought home a Mac 512K. Actually he started with Apple games when his best friend set up an Apple II. He then spent his graduate school years studying Educational Technology, giving him an excuse to spend hours with SimCity 2000, Civilization III, Marathon and the like. While he designs and develops websites and multimedia for a living while being a stay-at-home dad, he loves writing for IMG because it “forces” him to continue playing games on the Macintosh.