Out of the Park Baseball 12 is a stats and text-based baseball sim where players are given complete control of any baseball club they choose. Unlike other sports games, players take a back seat for the action, but get a plush office as team general manager, with a full set of tools at their disposal to raise their team to glory.

Developed by German games studio Out of the Park Developments, OOTP 12 is for the fantasy sports type, for whom spreadsheets and statistics that detail thousands of players draws rush of sustained excitement. Like the real sport of baseball, sometimes trading away that proven, veteran pitcher to get an offensive prospect is the key to success in the coming seasons. Players have the opportunity to toy with that philosophy, but with limitless possibilities.

A huge improvement in this year's game is the player salary system. Negotiating contracts is much more rewarding, due to added performance bonuses, player and team options, and most importantly, minor league split contracts. Convincing a player to take your minor league contract (which is at no cost to your franchise) with the promise of an eventual major league contract adds a few more layers of enjoyment and realism to the signing process.

Most players default to managing an MLB team, where real players and coaches are exhaustively well represented. You also have the option to play both offline and with others online in historical leagues, with accurate teams dating back to the 1800s, or in fictional leagues. With dozens of options in creating these leagues, your experience can be as hand-crafted as possible.

I replayed a season with the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers, except it ended in disaster this time around with late season injuries sidelining Robin Yount and Rollie Fingers. Then the game generated a fictional league for me in Botswana, which I named Xtreme Arena Baseball. My Gumare Larks saw third baseman Minyar Murtada start in the all-star game and lead the league in RBIs. I found that this fictional league encouraged me to throw out all pretence of my players' performance (my initial play-through had me desperately trying to trade Brewers short stop Yuniesky Betancourt, even if he was magically batting .356).

Next page: Stat-attack

The seams begin to come loose for OOTP 12 during the "in-inning" experience though, where games are actually played. Each at-bat provides players with options such as "take pitch" and "swing away," with no sense of upcoming pitches or other nuances of batting or pitching. After sporadic manual at-bats and a strong sense of futility at controlling my players' ability to hit or pitch a ball, I found myself simming a few innings at a time. Later, I was simming through entire games.

Out of the Park Baseball 12

On-field play is more akin to those football-inspired board games of yesteryear. Players spend hours fine-tuning every aspect of their team, but once the switch is flipped and the tiny players vibrate on the metal board, it's ultimately up to the game to decide the outcome. Unlike other sports games, OOTP isn't about winning on your own, it's about influencing the likelihood of your team winning and creating a team with the potential of winning a championship.

A large majority of your time is spent tuning your roster and personnel, which isn't a perfect experience, either. Hardly any UI changes can be found between last year's version and OOTP 12, and it isn't too surprising. With an immensely deep statistical structure, which constitutes the entire game, comes a steep learning curve. Newcomers to the series should expect dozens of links and buttons on a given screen, a usability connoisseur's nightmare. This doesn't include the in-game broadcast-style sections, where the layout is similar to tracking a real baseball game online without audio or video.

What hurts OOTP 12's chances with incoming players is that the jumbled mess of words and numbers feels necessary to the deep, convoluted nature of a management-style game. It took me hours to recall the right path to a certain screen in the game, and just as long to memorize what some of the icons and drop-down menus were for. Even then, finding player progression screens can lead players to multiple pages for what seems to be the same thing.

Out of the Park Baseball 12: Specs

  • XP/Vista/Windows 7, Min. 1024x768 display, 1GHz processor, 256 MB RAM, About 1 GB free HD space
  • XP/Vista/Windows 7, Min. 1024x768 display, 1GHz processor, 256 MB RAM, About 1 GB free HD space


All the nit-picky concerns aside, Out of the Park Baseball 12 is an excellent management game, but for a narrow audience. That narrow fantasy sports audience should find themselves up until the sun rises with this game for a long time. If you find yourself in the unique cross-section of people that love strategy RPGs and baseball, Out of the Park Baseball 12 is exactly the game you need in your life.

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