Out Of The Park Baseball 2006 PC
Published by Sports Interactive
Developed by Sports Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
Price: €39.99 (Download Only)
For years now we’ve reviewed the football management games that Sports Interactive have created and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed them. In recent times we’ve also had the pleasure of reviewing the NHL Eastside Hockey Manager games and again we’ve really enjoyed them. The latest sports management game to be taken under Sports Interactive’s wing is Out of the Park Baseball 2006. To be honest the thought of having to review the game frightens me somewhat. Whilst I’m reasonably aware of the rules of the sport (having played it at school), I don’t follow it at all so I’ll make it clear right at the top of this review that this is not being reviewed by someone who knows how it is in the world of baseball.
My first time playing Out of the Park Baseball was overwhelming to say the least. Just setting up a new game can both leave you lost and in awe of the game at the same time. Unlike Football Manager 2007 or NHL Eastside Hockey Manager 2007 there’s a lot to consider when starting a new game. The customization options are amazing. You can choose to play in the Major American League, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba, Mexico, the Dominican Winter League, the Mexican Winter League, the Puerto Rican Winter League or the Venezuelan Winter League. You can choose to run fictional leagues or import a Historical Major League. You can even import leagues from versions 6.12 and 6.5 of Out of the Park Baseball. Say you want to play in England you can simply choose a fictional league and set the nation to England. A fictional league structure will be setup (you can decide how many divisions there are and how many teams per division). The team names are created in an instant and you’ll be able to edit any aspect of how the leagues are run. The customization options don’t end there though. Player ratings range from 1-20 by default but if you want the ratings to be 1-100 then you can make them so. In fact you can set the option to have the ratings ranging from 1-5, 1-10, 2-8 and 20-80. You can even turn the ratings off altogether if you wish. In fact it’s difficult to think of a part of the game you can’t customize.
Once you’re all done and dusted setting up the game you’ll overwhelmed with all of the information that’s in front of you. To be completely honest it took me a while to feel comfortable with the game but thankfully the manual does go into detail about what needs to be done and if you’re new to the game then it’s essential that you give it a read through. That said though, once you are fairly comfortable with the game you’ll be amazed at the depth it goes into. Whilst I can’t even claim to know if the AI behaves in a realistic fashion or if the game plays out in an authentic manner, it’s easy to see that the game has massive potential. As with the other Sports Interactive titles, you can tinker with the tactics using slider bars (for greater customization). You can also send your scouts around the world to see if there’s any hidden talent you may be able to recruit. Of course the reliability of your scout reports depends on the quality of your scouts. The games can either be played with you giving instructions all the way or you can choose to quick sim innings, half-innings or the entire game. During games there is a wealth of statistics at your disposal and after the game has been completed you have access to the game log to see how everything played out.
Like most sports management games there isn’t much in the way of glitzy visuals in Out of the Park Baseball 2006. The game is primarily text based, making it perfect for deaf gamers, and the games aren’t played out with any kind of animated visuals. The game does have a selection of skins that all differ quite significantly from each other and they are all very usable with no real problems. Unlike the other Sports Interactive games all of the menus are accessed from the top of the screen so there is no need for right and left handed skins. What the game also does differently is that if you run it in full screen mode it will run at the same resolution as your monitor. If you own a 17” TFT, for instance, it will run at 1280x1024 in full screen mode and not 1024x768 (the windowed resolution) meaning you won’t have blurry text on your TFT screen, which is good to see.
Out of the Park Baseball 2006 is an impressive sports management game that should definitely please deep thinking baseball fans everywhere. Even those who don’t know a lot about baseball but enjoy sports management games would do well to at least give the demo a try (although in fairness the demo is rather annoying attempting to get you to purchase the game at every opportunity it gets and should you refuse, you get taken to the game’s website). For those who are new to the series there is a lot to take in but thanks to the game manual it’s possible to get to grips with it in a fairly short space of time. Of course those looking for official MLBPA licensing with official logos and names will be disappointed. However, to some degree you can compensate for this by downloading user modifications to add in the real names etc. because the game has been designed to allow the user plenty of scope to alter the game in plenty of ways. Overall the game doesn’t feel as polished as NHL EHM 2007 or indeed Football Manager 2007 and it still feels a little too complicated at times (an in-game tutorial like there is in Football Manager 2007 would have been excellent) but there’s massive potential here and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future versions.
Out of the Park Baseball 2006 has to be one of the most ambitious sports management games I've ever played. It's a little daunting at first but spend time learning what the game has to offer and how to play the game and it's hard not to be impressed.