From 2006, when EA lost the rights to make MVP Baseball, to 2011, I was an MLB: The Show guy. I got a PS3 instead of an X-Box 360 specifically for the Show. But as I played the game through the 2011 season, I tired of the Road to the Show mode, and found the Franchise mode underwhelming and lacking depth. The greatest frustration was with Sony’s miserable “potential” rating. A prospect’s trade value was entirely tied to his potential rating, but said potential rating had absolutely nothing to do with his skill level or age, and the game limited how much any one player could improve. So not only was it annoying, but it was a major exploit.
As a result, I started looking for a new game to play, and quickly found Out of the Park Baseball. OOTP is entirely in a website style HTML window, and the games are text based. If you’re looking for the on the field type of simulation provided by the Show or MLB 2K, OOTP is not for you. If you’re looking for a game that lets you experience what it’s like to run a franchise, though, OOTP is like manna from heaven.
I won’t pretend to say that I’ve played all the modes available, but you can develop a custom league, play a historical league, or play online leagues in addition to a standard MLB league with 2013 opening day rosters. In a standard MLB game, you’ll control the MLB team, Triple A team, Double A team, High A team, Low A team, Short Season A team, Rookie League team and an international complex. In other words, you control the entire organization, from the 16 year old Dominican signee to your biggest superstar.
The big improvement to the game last year was in the user interface, significantly modernizing it to make it look more like a modern web browser. This year the UI was more a cosmetic improvement, but improvements have been made elsewhere.
OOTP13 appears to have a more realistic international scouting setup than prior versions, where you basically had to luck across international prospects. It also seems to have scouted current minor leaguers a bit better than prior versions.
With that said, there are still exploits, particularly against the computer. You can pretty much always trade a terrible bench player for a high potential reliever (for example, I was able to trade Brent Lillibridge for Carter Capps). You’ll also see some pretty good young, high potential relievers hit the waiver wire. I’d bet it’s a coding in the software that makes team err on not designating for assignment significant salary amounts, which probably is the proper way to err.
The one negative to this season is that it’s been a buggier run than prior versions, with some mid-game shut down issues upon release. However, it seems that the developer has gotten a hold on that through patches.
Overall, OOTP is still by far the best franchise running experience in gaming. If you’ve ever wanted to feel what that is like, go out and buy it. It is available for $39.99 on Windows, Mac and Linux here.
There is also an iOS version of the game, iOOTP Baseball 2013, which is available on the App Store for $4.99. I honestly think the best description of iOOTP is as OOTP light. You only get one minor league team to run, and they don’t play games. They’re more a supplemental roster. It’s a great game to get as either a trial version of OOTP, due to the lower price, or if you have long train commutes or are traveling.
Aside from it being a lighter version of OOTP, my only complaint about the iOS version, which I have only played on an iPhone, is that it can be difficult to make some roster moves due to the amount of information that needs to be posted on a small screen. You need to move some pretty small buttons around. That’s likely a necessary evil to put a game with this much information on an iOS device.
If the money isn’t an issue and you know it’s for you, I’d suggest getting OOTP. If you want to try it out for a lower cost or have a lot of time alone with your iOS device, get iOOTP. Either way, you’re getting the best baseball game available on that device.