Written by Daniel Paulling
Published: 14 July 2007
Have you ever dreamed of becoming your favorite team’s general manager and leading them to a World Championship? Of course you have. Not a day goes by when a die-hard fan does not ask himself or herself, “Why does this guy still have a job at the major league level” or “Why can’t we trade for so-and-so?” It’s something every die-hard fan does. It's a requirement of being a true fan.
Outside of the Park Developments has been letting those folks do that for years with their successful Outside of the Park baseball simulation gaming line. Gamers can take control of their favorite team in the year 2007 and aim for a World Championship. Or they can become the general manager of a team from the early 1900s. Or they can take control of a team from a foreign league (Japanese baseball, anyone?). If none of that suits your fancy, there is always the fictional league option, one that lets players create everything about a league.
Online, there has been a huge following of fans who joined the craze years ago. Many gamers have been around for years, moving from one engine (which is what every release is called) to another. I have played in several leagues and currently am in two leagues. You can compete against other die-hards who will fight for the coveted World Championship. It takes some time to learn what makes a successful general manager, and newbies need to be wary of veteran gamers trying to swindle them. (One hint: Do not trade for older players. The game unfairly ages them quickly.)
For those who are not quite familiar with what simulation games are, just imagine fantasy baseball, but instead of using the stats from Major League Baseball, there are ratings for every player. Those ratings help determine how good a player is. It’s an easy process to grasp with just a little experience.
OOTP 2007 does a wonderful job bringing fans a realistic baseball sim. Last year's OOTP 2006 was, to put it mildly, an unsuccess. It was a huge leap forward for the folks at OOTP Developments, but it just was not meant to be. There were many new features, but gamers complained of weak artificial intelligence (which runs the opposing teams, if you are running a sim by yourself) and slow processing times within the game.
Designers have completely revamped this year's product, OOTP 2007. The interface is similar to last year's release, but those who found problems with OOTP 2006 were used to test this year's game. After all of this work, the new product looks great.
Many computer gaming sites have been raving about OOTP 2007. GameSpy.com gave it a perfect five out of five, saying that it "has emerged as arguably the best baseball game ever made." Metacritic.com ranks it alongside Half-Life as the best computer game ever. This is all very high praise.
Some of the improvements include stronger artificial intelligence and more realistic settings, including glitzier graphics and different scouts producing contradicting scouting reports for the amateur draft. This game is getting closer to what a real-life general manager faces throughout the year.
There are a couple of drawbacks. The interface is difficult for newcomers, but only a slight amount of experience allows a user to become used to it. Also, the 500-page owner's manuel can be a bit intimidating.
I give this game a rating of three and a half balls. It's a great game for baseball fans who get tired of screaming at the television whenever their team's worst player comes into the game once again. And for those of you whose favorite teams are no longer in pennant races, it provides a wonderful reprieve from upcoming months.
OOTP Development released a demo of OOTP 2007, if you want to try that before purchasing the game. You can find it at the bottom of this page
. You can also purchase the game there.
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