Monday, March 27, 2017

Out of the Park Baseball 18: A Great Thing Gets Better

Year after year, the dawn of a new Major League Baseball season brings new hope. Whether or not your are the reigning World Series champions, or a team that settled in the doldrums of the big leagues, everyone begins Opening Day anew. With Out of the Park Baseball 18, that thrill is put in the users hands over and over, as you're tasked with constructing the perfect organization and deploying a finely tuned machine.

A year ago, with OOTP 17, I had the privilege of reviewing the Out of the Park series for a second straight year here at Off The Baggy. Some significant advancements were made with the previous iteration of the game, and once again, the OOTP Developments team knocked it out of the park. This season with OOTP 18, it's much more of the same.
One of my favorite features in this year's game is the heightened level of realism. While the OOTP series has never intended to be a graphical masterpiece, its level of advanced simulation and customization is top notch. In OOTP 18 however, a new level of importance is placed on realism. With an improved 3D Mode, the ballparks feel more team specific than ever before. Players look as closer to their real life counterparts as ever, and the game draws you into the experience in a whole new way.

Two of my biggest gripes from a season ago had to do with both injuries and AI. Far too often, it seemed as though fluky injuries popped up regularly, and had you scrambling to fill out rosters. If you weren't losing players to the disabled list, opposing organizations seemed to be offering asinine trades at a ridiculous clip. This time around, that experience has been greatly improved.

On the injury front, teams and players are dealt more realistic injuries, less often, and with a more workable timetable. Losing a top tier starting pitcher still happens, but it often isn't couple with the entire pitching staff hitting the skids at the same time. Also, injuries seem to be more tied to a player's individual physique as well as relating to their past health history. This makes this a bit easier to cope with, and understand, while eliminating the out of nowhere 60 day DL stints.

From an AI perspective, the game plays differently on nearly all fronts. The computer is going to constantly challenge your baseball acumen. In game, you will be expected to execute properly in key situations. You'll need to make the correct roster moves at the right time, and winning the World Series is going to require a culmination of everything coming together at once. While poor trade logic still exists to a certain extent, it appears to be much less prevalent, and that's a welcomed scenario.

The look of OOTP 18 isn't all that different from the years prior, but it's the small tweaks that are incredibly welcomed. With quick links to get you to the screen you are looking for, whether making managerial or higher up changes, the interface couldn't be more fluid. It's admittedly going to be a bit overwhelming for someone new to the series, but as the learning curve is mastered, the precision of the experience will be welcomed.

If it's not the big leagues that do it for you, OOTP 18 once again brings more than 100,000 real players to the table, and they span leagues all over the globe. New for OOTP 18 is the inclusion of the Negro Leagues, and the experience only makes the level of immersion grow deeper.

OOTP 18 is a game that you can very easily pick up and play for a matter of minutes, but the true greatness shines when you sit down and diver in only to get lost for hours. As you look to take your team to the next level, you'll never be at a place of satisfaction, always looking for another edge. No matter what your play style is, there's something in this game for everyone. The armchair General Manager in all of us is put to the test through the OOTP series, and it's executed flawlessly year after year. Once again, OOTP 18 is a must for any baseball fan looking for another outlet to love the game.

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