October 21, 2014

OOTP 13: Perhaps The Best Sports Simulation Game Ever

April 2, 2012 by · 11 Comments 

OOTP 13 Small LogoTo paraphrase the words of the portly Simpsons character Comic Book Man, Out of the Park 13 is perhaps the “Best Game Ever” when it comes to sports simulations.

Proclaiming OOTP13 as such doesn’t give the game enough justice. As awe-inspiring as last year’s edition was, producer Markus Heinson and his band of creative baseball fanatics flipped the script while fine-tuning the strengths of an already stellar foundation. In other words, OOTP13 is like giving Jose Reyes-like speed to Albert Pujols.

There is no game on the market that combines the myriad aspects of its subject like OOTP13 has. As Baseball Prospectus’ annual book has become the gold standard of the sport, OOTP13 has further established itself as the gold standard of sports games, video or computer. You cannot exhaust the possibilities that exist in this version, a game with scant flaws. Having played a beta version, I can imagine the corrections will only enhance a game that belongs on the short list of the elite.

Having been blessed to give a spin to an advance copy, my Sunday evening turned into early Monday morning while in the process of sampling the new features. To highlight each of them would turn this review into War and Peace-sized, so let’s focus on the bigger standouts.

Real Time Simulation: One should buy OOTP13 on this feature alone. Gamers can follow an entire day of baseball at varying speeds; I tried using the actual real time for a full slate of games, worked out, went to the grocery store and napped before coming back about five hours later to see that Stephen Strasburg struck out 15 Astros in a complete game 1-hitter, Ryan Braun go 4-for-5 with a pair of homers before following the action of a Diamondbacks-Dodgers game that went 16 innings and ended with Los Angeles hurler Ted Lilly — the last available player on the Dodgers roster — concluding the marathon with an RBI single. About the only thing missing was the MLB Network crew analyzing the action.

Improved Interface: From the ESPN-like player pages to more user friendly team and league sections, the game’s makeover is very inviting. Managing a team has become easier to handle; especially the aspect of being able to work your way through the team pages, which begins with a one-stop look at the state of your franchise and only gets better as you peruse through the endless breakdowns that are offered.

Better Trading AI: The days of grabbing a top-tier prospect for a couple of has-been slags are over. You want a young talent like Justin Upton? Better get ready to offer the Diamondbacks the moon, Jupiter, Pluto and a galaxy to be named later.

The game also includes a more fine-tuned draft and free agency, plus it also sets the Astros up for one last ride through the National League before the likes of Pujols, Adrian Beltre and the rest of AL West gets to feast on their mediocre pitching staff in 2013. Another cool new feature is the historical draft, allowing owners to throw random players from past and present into the pool of available talent. Imagine the Astros — who have the first pick this June — being able to nab the likes of 1923 Babe Ruth or 1962 Sandy Koufax. It’s a hidden gem of an addition that makes fans of the “What If…?” modes giddy with joy.

That said, I took the liberty of projecting the upcoming season, which also includes the new playoff mode. After a series of trial runs (one of which included an A’s-Giants World Series and another that saw Dodgers OF Matt Kemp win the NL Triple Crown), I proceeded with a season that delivered its share of twists and turns.

The results:
American League East: Red Sox, 91-71 (Actually, they tied the Yankees on the final day of the regular season).
American League Central: Indians, 88-74 (Only team to finish above .500; the Tigers couldn’t find pitching beyond Justin Verlander and wound up with an 77-85 mark).
American League West: Rangers, 89-73 (Pujols flopped miserably for the Angels, hitting .223-20-57 in 121 games as LA finished 80-82).
Wild Cards: Yankees (91-71), Mariners (85-77, one game better than the Blue Jays and Rays, who both lost on the final day of the season).

National League East: Phillies, 86-76 (The Marlins, Nationals and Braves finished within three games of Philly, which needed a rally from a 6-0 first inning hole to top Washington on the last day of the season, avoiding a one-game playoff with Miami, sitting a game back).
National League Central: Cardinals, 86-77 (The defending champs defeated the Reds in a one-game, winner-take-all playoff game).
National League West: Dodgers, 95-77.
Wild Cards: Diamondbacks (87-75) and Giants (87-75; San Francisco was 30-49 at one point in the season).

Playoffs
American League: Mariners over Yankees in WC; Red Sox over Mariners (3-1); Indians over Rangers (3-0); Indians over Red Sox (4-3).
National League: Giants over Diamondbacks in WC; Dodgers over Giants (3-2); Cardinals over Phillies (3-0); Cardinals over Dodgers (4-0).
World Series: Cardinals over Indians (4-1). Another year of torment for Cleveland fans.

Awards
Rookie of the Year: A’s C Josh Donaldson (AL); Padres 1B Yonder Alonzo (NL)
Manager of the Year: Manny Acta, Indians (AL); Don Mattingly, Dodgers (NL)
Cy Young: Jon Lester, Red Sox (AL); Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (NL)
MVP: Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera (AL); Reds 1B Joey Votto (NL)

Comments

11 Responses to “OOTP 13: Perhaps The Best Sports Simulation Game Ever”
  1. Chris S says:

    Have you played the Championship Manager/Football Manager series of games? I haven’t played an OOTP in a while, but that would be incredible if it has indeed caught up.

  2. Xeifrank says:

    Sounds like fun. Everything looks realistic except for… you know… the Mariners winning 85 games and making the playoffs ahead of the Angels and wow the Dodgers winning 95 games. I guess if you simulated enough seasons (100K) you would see stuff like this every once in a while though.
    vr, Xeifrank

  3. Mike Lynch says:

    Yeah, it’s tough to gauge accuracy based on a single sim. For example, I simulated the 1967 season last night and the Braves won 101 games, whereas they went 77-85 in real life. You never know what might happen, but it’s still a blast and has the most features of any game I’m aware of.

  4. Brandon C. Williams says:

    That’s what makes the simulations intriguing. I ran about 20-25 sims before going with this one, and while most of them portrayed what many would expect the season would come out, the unpredictable aspects of the season in question really highlighted the strengths of the game. For all of the twists and turns, not once in any of the sims did the Houston Astros win more than 68 games, whereas in one sim, the Pirates (81-81) finished just three games out of first in what was a putrid NL Central.

    Either way, I strongly suggest buying this game. I could have written at least another 400 words about it, which speaks volumes to how remarkable this version of OOTP is.

  5. Brendan says:

    I see tiebreakers STILL haven’t been fixed. GAAAAAAAAH. There should have been a one-game playoff on Thursday between the Red Sox and Yankees. Anyway, nice to see a Wild Card Wednesday with a different result.

  6. Denn says:

    I left Basebball Mogul for “OOTP 11″ 2 years ago. Baseball Mogul was the best
    sports sim game I’d seen up to that time. Thank god there are at least 2 good
    sports simulation games out there. Football has none and that’s sad. The best
    attempts I’ve seen in football are Football Manager(fancy look) and Pro Football
    Simulator. There is no way to measure absolute accuracy unless you know something
    is way off like Roger Staubach completing 95% of his passes or something to that
    effect. I’ll discuss the important factors I consider.

    1. Is the player rating data base accessible outside of the main program by a
    spreadsheet such as Excel. A spreadsheet is much more powerful than any inline
    editor. OOTP and Baseball Mogul can both do this. When I asked Footbball
    Manager they just went ugh?

    2. Schedueles are important. The system in OOTP is the best I’ve seen yet. I use
    a scheduele from the 1960 season with changed team names. I don’t use custom
    leagues or scheds. I use a historical league because I don’t like OOTP retiring
    players and bringing up strange new male rookies in my female celeb league.

    3. In OOTP you can import real player pictures or have the pic generator invent
    fakes for the fake names. I run a fantasy female celeb league, so I cropped
    400 images of female celebs and imported them right where the original pics
    would be installed.

    4. Stats. OOTP is the best I’ve seen for following stats and you can use filters
    to view any of them you want in either ascending or descending order. Also,
    immediate stats are given with both pitcher and batter as they face.

    5. OOTP standings are also the best because not only are they crisp and clear as
    seeing them in a newspaper, they also provide the top 3 league leaders in things
    like batting average, homeruns, ERA etc.

    6. OOTP has its’ own browser to make navigation tasks simple.

    7. Historical leagues come with OOTP besides the latest. In Baseball Mogul, you
    only get the 2013 season. You pay extra for historial league data, which they
    sell on dvds.

    8. Ball parks. You can name them, with 5 different categories of distance(LF, LCF,
    C, RCF, RF). You also decide the height of the fences and even whether the
    parks are aftro turf or real grass.

    9. You can set to a similar season you’d like to see similar stats on or you can
    even set to the dead ball era.

    My final conclusion is that OOTP is the finest sports simulation game on the
    market with Baseball Mogul a very distant in every single feature except looks.
    The field display in Mogul seems less cluttered. Baseball Mogul would still be
    my second best choice for a sports simulator and certainly better than anything
    I’ve seen in football. Football Manager has the best look but in my opinion,
    Pro Footbball Simulator seems to hold the best potential. Football Manager’s
    problem, even though the layouts are nice looking and sharp, as to versatility
    and power the program is rather weak with the data base unavailable from outside
    the program. This seems to be a major and catastrophic flaw with all recent
    football simulators which condemns them to mediocre power. I liked NFL Challenge
    back in 1990, which had an accessible data base.

    Thanks and I hope I’ve been helpful.

  7. mike says:

    Don’t see it. OOTP is a decent game but can’t give it the vote for best sport sim. Would have to give that to FM hands down not even a contest.

  8. Randy Brown says:

    @Mike Lynch – I once replayed the 1960 season with the old ABPA cards. The Kansas City A’s won the AL and the World Series. Baseball can be a game of dice rolls, uh, inches.

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