Out of the Park Baseball 6 may look a lot like its predecessors, but many new features give the game an unmatched feeling of authenticity.
"As real as it gets." This is the slogan for Out of the Park Baseball 6. And in this case, it seems like there is truth in advertising. Lead designer Markus Heinsohn has reworked the game engine to provide more realism, more management features, improved artificial intelligence, and an editor that allows you to adjust player rating and performance settings. This text-based baseball management simulation (available only online via the official Web site) may look a lot like its predecessors, but all of these new features give the game an unmatched feeling of authenticity.
There is more under the hood in just about every area of the new game. While the game design, of course, still focuses on running a big-league baseball franchise from the minors to the majors--and in solo leagues or against online human opposition--the new game adds a great deal of depth. This is particularly true in regard to the player rating system. All of the old categories have been tossed in favor of replacements that leave less to the imagination. As a result, the system of evaluating players is tighter. You get the sense that you're rating the real abilities of real people now, not just matching the ratings with the statistics.
Pitchers, for instance, are now rated on actual skills, like stuff, control, and movement, instead of the vaguer categories used previously, like avoiding runs and avoiding home runs. Their pitch speeds are clocked as well, so you can easily tell fireballers from breaking-ball specialists. Batters have also been fine-tuned, with rating categories such as contact, eye/patience, gap power, and running instincts. Talent is now given a score in each skill rating, so you can see if a player is living up to expectations or not.
This new system makes it easier to evaluate players, yet it also adds more guesswork, because you're now dealing strictly with player capabilities and not how a player should respond in a given situation. So that hotshot young starting pitcher may have fantastic stuff, but you have to keep an eye on how he's performing in games to see whether or not he can keep runs off the scoreboard. You now have to mix rating scores with box scores to determine a player's real worth, upping the game's realism (and its difficulty) and also making you feel a lot more like the general manager of a real ballclub.
These ratings, along with the star system that rates a player's entire package of abilities, also seem more credible than they were last year. OOTP 5 had some problems with the abilities of top young prospects and star older players. A prospect might celebrate his 25th birthday and immediately go from a 4.5-star prospect with great numbers in all rating categories to a 1.5-star bum. A 37-year-old veteran with four stars in October might have only one star by the following season's spring training. Scores now are more fluid, and the sudden drop-offs are no longer an issue. Stars and ratings fluctuate a fair bit during each season, so you'll have to keep an eye on both these numbers and the stat categories.
Best of all, players can now come back from star and rating declines. Before, when a prospect tanked or a veteran suddenly got old, that was pretty much it. That's no longer the case. For example, we traded for the top prospect in the league during one season only to see him immediately plummet from five stars to one star. As a result, he became a long shot to make it in the majors. However, we stuck with him, and he responded with a fantastic year that saw all his numbers and his star rating gradually rise. By September, he had regained budding superstar quality.
If you don't like the ratings generated by OOTP 6's default settings, you can alter them in the game engine setup screen. For the first time in the history of the series, you can tweak the ratings system and modify how players are evaluated by adjusting the base weighted percentages by up to 200 percent of the default values. You can even use this feature to take stats into account when determining ratings so that performance on the field directly translates into evaluations by the artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, the game download file comes without any advice on how to use the engine setup options (and it doesn't even include a manual), so a lot of trial and error is required to make changes to your league. Thankfully, there is a thriving user forum at the official Web site.
- Game Universe:
- Out of the Park Baseball 9 (PC, MAC),
- Out of the Park Baseball 10 (PC, MAC),
- Out of the Park Baseball 11 (PC, IP, MAC),
- Out of the Park Baseball 5 (PC),
- Out of the Park Baseball 4 (PC),
- Out of the Park Baseball II (PC),
- Out of the Park Baseball 3 (PC),
- Out of the Park Baseball 6.5 (PC),
- Out of the Park Baseball 6 (PC),
- Out of the Park Baseball 14 (PC)
- Online Modes:
- Number of Players: