Baseball season is in full swing, and with Out of the Park Baseball, you can manage your own season based on the real thing. OOTP has become a standard by which all other sports management games are judged by on the computer, and slowly, but surely the feature rich experience has come to iOS. Now, there’s iOOTP Baseball 2014 Edition offering a mobile friendly version of the baseball management simulation game putting you in control of your favorite team. You get to manage the authentic real rosters with ratings determined by Baseball Prospectus, and that includes the top 20 minor league players of each team.
iOOTP 2014 includes three ways to play with 2014 major leagues, fictional creation, or historical replay of the 1919, 1939, or 2012 seasons. Every other MLB season is available as in-app purchases, but the meat of the game lies in beginning with the 2014 season. Once you start a season you get to see your line-up, pitching staff, and depth charts, and set out on the full 162 game season. Rather than playing ball, your main play time revolves around being the general manager to offer extensions, sign free agents, pull off trades, complete the amateur player draft, and promote players from the minors. The computer can assist you with any of the tasks, but the game gives you the full ability to manage every aspect of your team, in its complete form on your iOS device. You can also play as a manager in an individual game to watch the action unfold with each batter, and perform substitutions, call for steals, enact hit & run, and more maneuvers from the dugout.
iOOTP 2013 was a quality edition, and the 2014 version simply builds upon it by incorporating more from the PC/Mac counterpart to offer the complete implementation of the best simulation engine in the business. The most noticeable change of the surface is a redesigned UI that emphasizes iOS 7, and de-clutters a lot of the menus. It’s a lot easier to dive through the wealth of information included, and pull off the various management tasks. It’s a whole lot cleaner with a greater focus on the players, and games, but there are still times where an odd screen will appear when you miss one of the action buttons. Also, there’s no sound included at all, not even clicks when tapping buttons, which makes it more sterile, a bit less engaging. The 2014 edition does highlight the in-game experience with brand new play by play commentary with tens of thousands of potential lines for a degree of realism that OOTP is known for.
The ultimate highlight of any version of Out of the Park Baseball is managing multiple seasons, and witnessing a franchise develop over the years. iOOTP 2014 delivers this focus the best of any previous iOS version, and it really does rival the computer counterpart. There’s less customization options, but if you just play starting in 2014, it’s tough to find the differences. iOOTP 2014 nails the essence of baseball to let you see how players stat lines develop over a 162 game season, and then over an entire career. Every single thing you do in the game invites you on to the next event as you see current players age with diminishing skill levels as new minor league players are fighting to take their spots. Some players have break out seasons, and you need to constantly balance your payroll with timely extensions, or letting players walk as free agents when you have a new call-up ready, or are prepared to trade for a replacement.
There’s just so much to dive into, and the realism is at a level rarely seen to make each stat, and season performance of various teams feels like the real deal. Baseball seasons always develop uniquely just from the nature of the sport where a player that is considered good, fails seven out of every ten at bats. Star ratings offer some guidance on success, and again you get to see the rise, and fall of various players with contracts that you manage. The PC/Mac version creates a rabbit hole of sorts that lets you get lost in a baseball future that you created 15 years down the line with such an intricately laid out simulation. The 2014 iOS version feels like the first that can compete with the PC/Mac edition to offer a similar sensation, but to be played on your mobile touch device. One thing that would be nice to see is the ability to revert from older save files, as the game seems to nicely auto-save, making the manual save button irrelevant.
iOOTP Baseball 2014 Edition ($4.99, Universal) truly delivers the total baseball management simulation package that is the first on iOS that can stand alone. It delivers everything you could want making it a must buy, especially for the comparatively cheap $5 price tag.
It may not have the widest appeal like R.B.I. Baseball, since you manage names & numbers, rather then actually playing, but at least iOOTP lets you simulate, and save your progress on the fly.