A quick note before I get onto the review.
You can pick up a copy of Out of the Park Baseball 19 for $19.99 USD on Steam right now. That’s a savings of 50%. What are you waiting for?! The offer ends July 5th, so take advantage of this amazing deal.
Another year has gone by and we are in the thick of the 2018 Major League Baseball campaign. This year, like every year, has offered up some tremendous moments. Moments that defines players, managers and general managers. You can create your own defining moments in Out of the Park Developments, Out of the Park Baseball 19. Whether you choose to recreate the magic from historical teams or climb to the top with your favourite 2018 MLB club, every tool is there to make your baseball fantasies come true.
I’ve been playing this video game series since OOTP 13 and throughout the years I’ve seen the user interface go through some radical changes, most times for the better. Immediately, it was apparent to me that the redesigned interface for OOTP 19 was a smash hit. The game and all the menus look crisp and completely standout. This year the interface is defaulted to the dark colour scheme which has always appealed to me. Naturally, this is all personal preference, but I was happy with the default font. If you don’t see it my way, you’re in luck, as this year’s game includes the choice of six different fonts to really cater to your taste.
|• The ability to import your league from OOTP 18||• Inconsistent 3D animations|
|• New Tournament Modes (World Baseball Classic)||• Unsatisfactory trade offers from AI|
|• 800 custom team logos for fictional leagues||• Minor game crashes/freezes|
|• Improved UI||• Same in-game audio for many iterations|
|• New 3D stadiums and 3D player models||–|
|• Rewritten scouting reports||–|
Of all the changes that have been made to OOTP 19, I’d have to say that I was most excited about the inclusion of new tournament modes. If you’ve been keeping up with my OOTP reviews over the years, you would recall that one of my major disappointments about this series was that it lacked any form of the World Baseball Classic. This tournament features some of the best international players in the world and pits them in a wondrous tournament that takes place in March every four years. I am pleased to say that the WBC is an option that you can activate when creating your 2018 campaign. The game will automatically set the tournament for March before the start of your season and you have the option to become the general manager of whichever nation you want to be a part of. This is in addition to whatever club role you have in your active league(s). If the WBC doesn’t tickle your fancy, you also have the option to host special leagues that mirror some European football structures. They can be scheduled throughout the year to add a little spice to your game.
While I did talk about my most excited feature for this this year’s game, I’d have to say that my most used addition to OOTP 19 would be the 800 custom logos included for fictional leagues. This was a blessing in disguise. I typically don’t make many fictional leagues, but in last year’s game I decided to create an interesting league that consisted of teams from Canada while stretching as south as Brazil. Originally, I didn’t have plans on continuing this fictional league going into OOTP 19 but after finding out that this new game was receiving some much-needed love for fictional leagues, I was sold. I imported my CBL (Continental Baseball League) and as of this writing, I am nearly three years deep in this entertaining journey. The 800 custom team logos were a godsend this year. I was able to create many unique teams and really bring some flavor to my league.
An excellent update to this year’s game would be the rewritten scouting reports. Not only do they give you a more detailed look at players, but it offers a more realistic touch. In years past I would find myself just reading the paragraph from the scouting report. That would usually just give me all the info I needed. This year when I clicked on the scouting tab I found a remarkable change that really brought new life to the way I view a players scouting page. There’s a clean page that consists of two rows and six columns with nearly everything you would want to see based on a scouting report. The most obvious inclusion was the three line graphs that depict how the overall and potential of the player(s) change over the course of the year. The line graphs are an eye-catcher and a welcomed addition to OOTP 19.
OOTP 15 introduced the 3D interface to the series. Granted, it was rough and very much a work in progress. Fast-forward several years and you’ve got the best looking 3D interface of the entire series. It’s come a long way from basic looking stadiums and rudimentary character models. This year packs a punch with new 3D player models that actually resembles a human being. In addition to that, the player models also move more realistically; most notably the jumping and sliding from fielders and base runners. It’s starting to feel like I’m watching a real game play out more and more.
With all that being said, the 3D interface still has some kinks to work out. I came across numerous headscratchers throughout my experience with OOTP 19. Some of them carried over from previous iterations. Questionable moves such as the relay man choosing not to throw the ball to home plate despite the fact that he had the ball well before the runner started heading for home plate. There was ample time to gun the runner down but he chose to sit on the ball. The worst offender was an instance where the ball was hit to the outfield and the catcher decided to charge out to right field and pick the ball up. Not only did the catcher make it the ball before any other fielder but he had the time to get the runner out at first! That was easily the most extreme moment I’ve come across in OOTP 19. Thankfully, it seemed to be an isolated incident. There are still inconsistencies with the 3D engine that I’d like to see ironed out in the future.
In the several months that I’ve had time to play OOTP 19, I’ve noticed that the AI in-game decisions have gotten much better. It’s less about questioning the AI manager and more focus on the important stuff. While the in-game decisions have gotten better, I’d have to say that the AI trade management is still not up to par with the rest of the game. Like in years past, I’m still receiving these incredibly ludicrous offers from AI general managers who try and act like I’ve never played a baseball sim before. They often send me deals that aren’t even worth looking at. I’ve got trade offers from the AI that asked for my five star young stud and they offered an average veteran; think Bryce Harper for Curtis Granderson. Hardly ever do I actually ponder long about any sort of deal I get from an AI trade offer. Basically, any time I want to make a deal I just select “shop player around”. That seems to be the quickest way and it allows for me to tinker with the trade as I see fit.
When it comes to the audio for OOTP 19, it’s, well, bland. The in-game sounds and music are the same old crowd chants and organ music that you’ve been accustomed to for many years now. If it wasn’t for the audio cues that I wait for, such as the crack of the bats or the popping of the mitt from a strikeout, I would have turned off the in-game audio ages ago. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate what’s provided in the game, it just needs an update after all these years. It’s really draining to hear and expect the same old sounds year after year. I think the series is due for an audio overhaul, especially now that the visual aspects of the game have become leaps and bounds better.
Apart from a few minor crashes and freezes (particularly in the preview build) I don’t really have many other negative things to say about OOTP 19. This series continues to get better and better with each passing year. It filled a large void I had with virtual baseball six years ago and it has continued to deliver everything I want in a baseball simulation. OOTP 19 brings a plethora of emotions to the table and above all, it breeds excitement. It’s unlike any baseball experience you will come across.
While not making as many large additions to OOTP 19 as in previous games, many of the core features have been refined to a point where I can honestly say, this is Out of the Park Developments best release to date. OOTP 19 delivers an incredible interface, additional tournament modes and a plethora of customization. Despite the bland audio and inconsistent 3D interface, OOTP 19 is the premier baseball….. no, SPORTS management sim.