iOOTP Baseball 2011
System: iOS (iPhone/iPod Touch)
Publisher: Out of the Park Developments
Release Date: May 5, 2011
I have been an avid fan of Out of the Park Baseball for many years now, so when I heard the development team was building an iOS version of the game, I was definitely intrigued. Being able to obsess over micro-managing a baseball team and turning a franchise into perennial championship contenders, all on an iPhone/iPod Touch? Yeah, count me in.
In recent years, Out of the Park Baseball has rightfully earned a reputation as being one of the best, if not the best, baseball simulators on the market. The sheer amount of depth and tweakable options found in the computer edition is just insane. iOOTP Baseball 2011 is basically a condensed version of its big brother, and is enjoyable for both hardcore and casual baseball fans.
Upon starting the game, you have the option of playing a franchise using real or fictional players, as well as a historical league (the 1923, 1965 and 2004 seasons are included). After typing in your managerial name and selecting your team, you are ready to begin. From here, you can control most aspects of your team. You can change your lineups versus righties and lefties, tweak your rotation/bullpen, adjust the depth chart, set coaching strategies, and maneuver players to and from the minors, if necessary. There are some notable omissions from the computer version, such as the lack of a real minors system (there is only one minor league) and less financial options (no ticket prices, concessions, etc.), but for the most part you can expect to find a lot of the same content.
iOOTP gives the ability to simulate individual games or play them one-by-one, so you can get as hands on as you want to. The game’s interface is presented very well, and the touch screen features have been flawlessly implemented. At first I thought it would be tedious to manually create different lineups for RHPs and LHPs using the touch screen, but I was pleased to see a copy & paste function to smoothen the transition.
One thing I noticed while starting a normal league is that the rosters are totally out of whack. I tend to play as the Detroit Tigers more often than not (hometown bias), and I found several bizarre errors with their default roster. For example, Timo Perez, Fu-Te Ni and Clete Thomas were all on the active roster. Perez in particular hasn’t even played in the majors since 2007! These guys took the spots of some key players on the Tigers: Don Kelly, Brayan Villarreal and current #3 hitter Brennan Boesch. Also, their lineup had some serious inaccuracies: Magglio Ordonez was the #2 hitter, something he hasn’t been in years, if ever, and Austin Jackson was listed as the DH, despite being one of the best defensive centerfielders in the real MLB. I am not sure how all of these odd quirks made it into the game, but at least it is easy to customize everything into the way it should be.
While playing the game on my older iPod Touch, I did find a couple of other problems. There were two different occasions where my saved game file became corrupted, and apparently this has been a problem for the older iOS devices. I also had an issue where the app completely closed out on me after I had played a good 30 games or so, and then reverted me back to my old save file upon my reloading. Thankfully, due to a hard-working development team, these issues have already been fixed with an update. That’s one thing I love about niche developers like OOTP — they listen to their fans and do what they can to enhance their gaming experiences.
To be frank, iOOTP is something I never thought I would see on a handheld device. To have a deep baseball simulator on an iPhone/iPod Touch is nothing short of incredible. This is perfect for stat geeks like myself, who are looking to get their baseball fix while on the go. While the text-based gameplay might still deter some casual gamers, iOOTP is accessible enough that it will catch on with a larger fanbase, and that is definitely a good thing. With some tweaks here and there (such as more accurate rosters), iOOTP could be even better than some full-fledged PC simulators. As it stands, however, this is a very admirable debut into the mobile gaming market, and it is one hell of a bargain at $4.99.