Are you in need of a baseball fix, have an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) and $2 to spare? Well, have I got an app for you…
I recently downloaded iOOTP 2012, which is a mobile version of Out Of The Park, a long-running computer-based simulation… and more importantly for me, it’s one where you’re acting as the manager and GM rather than one where you play the games by batting and pitching. That’s an important distinction for someone as uncoordinated as I am.
In iOOTP, you start out with a roster, budget and expectations for your team. You can set lineups, make trades, sign and release players. You can play the game pitch by pitch, batter by batter, game by game or week by week. Players get injured, other teams make trades and – as I found out – team and player morale can go south on you… more on this in a bit.
There are 3 different categories you can play in… There’s “Major League” which simulates the 2012 season, “Historical” which simulates the 1924, 1969 or 1995 seasons, and “Fictional”, which lets you draft teams made up of completely made-up players. I don’t understand why one would want that last option, but I guess someone must have asked for it.
I’ve been playing as the 1969 Mets and the 2012 Mets – because I apparently didn’t suffer enough during the actual season – and I’ve been enjoying the heck out of it. When you play a game, a “play by play announcer” will generate text descriptions of the play, and the descriptions are detailed enough and varied enough that it seems reasonably realistic and makes it more fun. Players make bad throws or nice catches against the wall, runners get caught sleeping, and balls take bad hops.
You also need to take the players’ morale into consideration. If a guy doesn’t play enough or plays out of his preferred position, or if the team stinks, his morale will go down. Also, since this game allows you to move into future seasons with the team you’ve constructed, players can also request contract extensions or request a trade, which obviously would affect your 2013 and 2014 seasons, should you go that far. You also draft what appear to be fictional high school and college players, so there doesn’t seem to be a limit to how far into the future you can take your team. I saw a guy on a forum who claimed to have taken his team into the 2037 season.
My 2012 Mets got off to a bad start, suffered a number of injuries and got no-hit by Ryan Vogelsong, so moral was already bad before I started trading off veterans in April. Once the fire sale started, my team’s morale went into the virtual crapper… Even David Wright demanded a trade! Great googly-moogly! But I was at least able to trade him to the Orioles for Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop… most probably not something the real Orioles would consider, but the game does have some logic to what trades it will let you make. I tried to trade for Mike Trout, and the Angels “told” me that I didn’t have anybody that they’d consider in exchange.
I have one criticism which needs to be qualified by the fact that I have an older iPod Touch, and this game is not optimized for my device. That being said, some of the controls are very small and a bit hard to work, and some of the text is hard for my middle-aged (and never good to start with) eyes to read. I have no doubt that the game is far nicer to use on an iPad… but then again, you’re less likely to have an iPad on you when you’re waiting for takeout pizza.
Is it the most accurate baseball game I’ve ever played? Nope. But just from its nature – a reasonably accurate “calling the shots” type of game that runs on a device I carry around with me – I’ve spent far more time playing it than pretty much any baseball game since my original love affair with Statis Pro back in high school (and let me tell you, Bucko, that was a long time ago).
All things taken into consideration, iOOTP is a good value at the usual price of $4.99, and is an unbelievable bargain at the off-season price of $1.99. This game gets the highly-coveted Travis Buck rating.
To check out the iTunes listing for this app, click here
To check out the Out Of The Park page for this game, click here
One more thing…
It’s not often that I can offer up any sort of cheat for a game, but here’s one: This game is not licensed by MLB, so the teams start out having no names assigned to them, just a city. On the screen where you initially select your team, there is a “RAND. NICK NAMES” button on the bottom which, if you press it, comes up with goofy names like “Minnesota Golden Cats” or “Oakland Armadillos”, but if you hit the Random Nickname button a couple of times, you’ll usually get most of the real team names on the third try.