All-star athletes aren’t born at the top of their game. It takes years of practice, training and endurance to perfect the skills necessary for them to make it at the professional level. That is why veteran players command respect from their teammates and fans alike. They exude confidence when put under pressure and shine where it counts. Out of the Park Baseball 11 is like that veteran player; it performs well this season and improves upon last year’s iteration in a number of key ways.
The best word I could use to describe this year’s iteration is refined. Many different adjustments were made to the interface by OOTP Developments. These changes combine forces to make the menu system more manageable and user friendly. The main navigation buttons at the top have been enlarged, simplified and slightly separated from each other. It results in easier (and more logical) movement to and from the various in-game screens.
Rookie and seasoned OOTP players will quickly grow in appreciation of the new schedule bar at the top of the screen. You can think of it as of your personal assistant that keeps track of your recent and upcoming games. It links to a game recap screen with details of past performance and directly to your upcoming opponent’s team page.
The Manager Home Page also received a shot of steroids. One of the most difficult moments in OOTP is immediately after a new game is created. Where do you go? What do you do first? Thankfully, the redesigned home page gives needed direction with helpful suggestions. It not only tells you various reports and lists that should be watched on a regular basis but provides quick access links to them, too. The Home Page also lists dates of major season events (preseason, drafts, playoffs, etc) in addition to your team’s overall stats and standings. You’ll even get alerts of open staff positions and notable players available on the trading block.
Another seemingly simple addition that can change your approach to OOTP is the ability to select multiple players at once. Tag any or all of your players and perform such actions as Shortlist, Demote, or Trade. This will make short work of mass changes to your lineup. With the advent of selecting multiple people, OOTP Developments made another slight shift to the right and created the ability to compare two players. I immediately asked, “Why didn’t they do this sooner?” Split-screen comparisons enable more precise decision making, even listing similar players from previous seasons to help put player performance into perspective.
Eventually, you’ll hit the Auto-Play button to sim to a certain date. The simulation screen has been streamlined as well; basic standings and leaderboards are still shown but you also are given highlights of news from around the league. OOTP 10 could overwhelm your inbox with messages and news, but OOTP 11 allows you to change both the frequency and subject of your news items. This means you only get what you want to know, when you want to know it.
When you decide to play a game, you’ll find that the experience is very similar to last year. Play-
calling is decent and varied enough to keep things interesting. Control as little or as much of the action as you want with substitutions and strategy. An interesting inclusion in OOTP 11 is the option to control base running. If the situation calls for it, you make the decision to wave the runner to the next plate or hold at his current position. This added layer of strategy and control leads to more satisfying wins when you’re holding the reins.
Customization is pivotal in simulation games and the OOTP has a strong reputation in this area. Players have the ability to write custom game recaps, write notes and reminders that trigger alerts after X amount of days, and even create baseball cards. That last added feature was a pleasant diversion from the number watching and was easy to manipulate. If numbers are what you fancy, though, you’ll find every statistic imaginable buried somewhere in the game. Like last year, you can dig as deep as you want or be satisfied with the higher level details OOTP provides.
There are a few minor anomalies that I ran into while playing OOTP 11. A drop-down list might run off of the screen with no easy way to scroll through it. The background will sometimes overlap the scroll bar or features of the screen are misaligned. I also had the game freeze up a few times this year and did not have that issue in last year’s iteration on the same PC. However, such gripes are very specific
and rarely detract from the experience of playing the game.
Out of the Park Baseball 11 didn’t pitch a perfect game but it came close. My interaction with the series is limited compared to the avid fan following. However, I was continually impressed by the number of changes, additions, and improvements that I noticed from OOTP 10. Not only was it more intuitive, it was more “rookie friendly.” That being said, fans of the series should find more than enough to justify the cost to upgrade.
Out of the Park Baseball 11 made many improvements to last year's already impressive simulation. With so many refinements that make it a better experience, it's a no-brainer for those looking for a baseball simulation game.