If you’re just coming to Blue Jays from Away, you should know that I am an avid player of Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP). Every year, the folks at Out of the Park Developments rejig and revamp their game for the upcoming season and, while it’s a little late, I’ve finally gotten around to my annual review and simulation of the current season for your Toronto Blue Jays (the simulation write up is coming soon).
OOTP 19 is, as usual, the deepest baseball management simulation there is. You can call the shots in each game–choosing when to pitch out, assigning pinch hitters, warming up pitchers in the pen, shifting the fielders–and also play as a general manager, delegating the nitty-gritty decisions to the robust AI if you like.
In my previous reviews of this game, I’ve mentioned that the game is pretty much what you want it be. They’ve spent almost two decades building this game engine that enables you to play the most accurate simulation of a baseball executive possible.
There are several different game modes. There’s a quick-play option that starts with MLB rosters as current as the latest update allows. There are also historical modes that allow you to play as the 1992 or 1993 Blue Jays, or the 1994 Expos, or the 1927 Yankees, or any other team. You can also play foreign leagues like the Dutch and Italian Leagues, KBO in Korea or NLB in Japan. Finally, there’s a custom mode that allows you to customize the game. You can create a Canadian baseball league with teams full of fictional players from across the country. You can allow only Canadians to play in the league. You can set age limits, roster limits, free agency rules (or no free agency), draft rules and more. Just about every aspect of the game is up for customization including the size of the world that you’re playing in.
Once you get into the game, you can customize how you’re playing. Are you the GM? The in-game manager? Both? Do you want to manage the full minor league system? The game has built in a full minor league system that goes all the way down to the Dominican Summer League and has an international complex in which to stash your international players. A small inaccuracy note here, players who are signed at the July 2 International signing period CAN play in league games that season, which they cannot do in real life.
But otherwise, the game world is surprisingly accurate and realistic, which occasionally confused me as I was simulating the season for the Blue Jays. Was Donaldson playing well in my simulation or for the real Blue Jays? I had trouble telling my fictional Blue Jays from the real thing until I was well into the season.
Finally, the biggest step forward in OOTP 19 for me is that the in-game 3D graphics simulation is finally to the point where you can actually watch the games happening as it unfolds. Previously, the movement of the players and ball was just too choppy or unrealistic but now, it’s much smoother, you can read the flight of the ball. I like how you can simulate a day or a week or a month (or more) at a time, bypassing the game-by-game decisions. Unlike Football Manager, which makes you sit through every game, OOTP 19 allows you the choice to zip through a game quickly. That said, it can be nerve-wracking to watch as your team blows a lead late in the game (read part 2 of our review, coming soon, for more info about this), trying to pull all the right strings by warming up pitchers, pinch hitting, pinch running and more. While you can customize universal strategies like how long of a leash to give pitchers early or late in a game, when to steal bases and with how big of a lead you should ease up on the gas pedal, and other in-game decisions, if you’re watching the 3D games in progress, you’re the manager, making real time decisions.
Overall, I think the improved 3D gameplay makes OOTP 19 the best version of the game in a while. Stay tuned for the results of my simulation of the 2018 Blue Jays!
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