As a long-time Out of the Park Baseball player, when the OOTP Developments team asked me to test their mobile game, iOOTP, of course I was anxious to get my hands on it and check it out. I spent the majority of my time with the game while on airplanes or otherwise trying to kill time – it’s very easy to just pop the phone out and play a game really quick.
Opening up the app, you have options to continue the last game you were playing, start a new one, or load any other saved game. You’ll also note that there is an option to purchase past seasons. Some prior seasons come with the game, but you have the option to purchase, in-game, any past season and start your game from there.
I started with the 2004 season, which you’ll remember was a World Series year for the Redbirds. iOOTP is a career-mode simulation, just like its big brother, so the photos you’ll see from my game below are actually from the 2006 season (which you’ll note in the lower left corner of the screen caps). The Pirates have been really pesky in my game, always hovering around top-half of the division.
The game allows you to set your pitching staff, depth charts, and lineups – as well as having a minor league roster from which you can call up or send down talent. There’s no actual games being played in the minors in iOOTP to keep the game leaner, but players develop down there as you’d expect in a minor league system. There are general manager functions within the game including trading, free agency, etc that allow the career play – Joe Kennedy and Bob Howry turned out to be great free agency pickups for my fake Cardinals! The game also obviously didn’t know how to deal with Rick Ankiel circa 2004 either, as his pitching ratings are decent while his hitting ratings are also good enough to merit a bench spot. As such, I use him as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen AND a pretty good left-handed pinch hitter.
Below is the lineup screen you see before starting each game. At this point in the season, we were dealing with some injuries to pretty key players like Scott Rolen and Juan Encarnacion (yes, I signed him too).
Once in the game, you choose the plays to put on – guarding the lines on defense, a hit-and-run while batting, stealing bases, etc. Those choices are all under the strategies button you see at the bottom. When you’re ready to advance the gameplay, hit “SWING” or “PITCH” and let the play develop, complete with play-by-play. There’s also an option to quickplay through the entire game, or just to a certain point and picking up the ability to “manage” at a later point in the game. Again, you’ll note that free agency has changed several of the names you see with certain teams.
Below is one of the many helpful in-game screens available during actual game simulation that shows the current pitcher, current batter, and all of the pertinent information both ratings-wise as well as current game situation and statistics.
Each player has their own “card” showing ratings, vital information, statistics, and further screens available under the “view” button that allows you to see contract status, morale/mood (which can affect their performance), and further ratings like individual pitches, defense, baserunning, etc.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the time I’ve spent playing iOOTP. While it’s not necessarily a game that I would pick up the phone specifically to play, it’s definitely one that I load up frequently when I’m on a plane or in a waiting room, or otherwise trying to kill time without the full version of OOTP or other things to do.
iOOTP has its inherent flaws, caused both by the nature of trying to have bits and bytes act like humans in a game where human influence can make such a different as well as the limitations of being built for a mobile device and the lesser computing power those devices afford. The artificial intelligence is clearly still inferior to human input as gameplay goes – the AI struggles to manage pitchers and pitch counts. You will see games with eight and nine pitchers used because they’re all tired from a blowout the day before. You’ll see strange lineups and players out of position. But all in all, the flaws are relatively minor in my opinion, when compared to the ability to have the game mobile and use it to keep myself occupied.
Any baseball junkie could find something to enjoy in this game, and it can be purchased from the iTunes App Store for $4.99. Pick it up now and get a season or two in before Opening Day!