Video Game Review: Out Of The Park iOS App




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If you're a baseball nut like me, you've probably at least tried out at least one of the multiple baseball simulation games on the market.

Whether you like rolling dice or playing on your computer, there are plenty of excellent options, from Stratomatic to APBA, Pursue The Pennant to Out Of The Park Baseball.

But if you have kids or a busy schedule, admittedly it's hard to find time to roll the dice for a nine-inning game, and even sitting down to play a series on the laptop isn't as easy as it used to be.

That's not the case with the iOS app for Out of the Park Baseball, logically nicknamed iOOTP. It's an app you play on your iPhone or iPad. And once you play it, especially on a tablet, you realize that the iPad is a perfect spot to play a baseball simulation.

Finding time to play a game or a series is no longer much of an issue. If you carry your iPad or iPhone with you, 10 minutes in a waiting room becomes a nine-inning game. Need to stop the game? Put the iPad down, switch over to other apps, and when you come back, the game is ready to pick up where you left off.

All of that is nice, but what's most impressive about iOOTP is the depth it brings to an iOS game. You can play season replays of three different seasons included as part of your purchase, (1924, 1969 or 1995) with additional seasons available for purchase. And you can play in a fictional league comprised of made-up players. But the meat of the game is the major league option, where you pick one current big league team, take over the 2012 roster and try to build them into a long-term winner.

The team you pick plays a part in your chances for success—pick the Kansas City or Pittsburgh club and you know your budgets from year to year will be less than Boston or Los Angeles (the team nicknames aren't included, as Out Of The Park doesn't have the official MLB license, but the players are all the actual current players).

But most impressively, iOOTP doesn't just give you the MLB rosters. The farm systems and free agent pool of players are extremely deep with 20 or more real prospects for each team—pick Minnesota and you get not only Aaron Hicks and Miguel Sano in your farm system, but Levi Michael, Niko Goodrum and Hudson Boyd. As you play through a few years, you start seeing plenty of current prospects become the stars of clubs.

Players are rated by stars and on a 1-to-10 scale when you first open the game, but thankfully an option is available to convert all the ratings to the most useable 20-to-80 scouting scale—yes, Billy Hamilton has 80 speed, in case you are wondering.

As manager, you can tweak your clubs lineup, roster and make trades with computer clubs (the computer is a reasonably astute trade partner). You also can control all of the in-game aspects, like bringing the infield in, stealing a base or going to the bullpen. And since you function as the club's general manager as well (if you choose), you also negotiate salaries, sign free agents and deal with owners' expectations.

It's an extremely deep game at a very inexpensive price—currently $1.99 in the Apple App Store now that we're in the baseball offseason.