How does a developer continuously improve and refine a game that already delivers an excellent simulation of the sport? That is a fair question and a conundrum that the OOTP devs deal with now on a yearly basis. That said, Out of the Park Baseball 24 is here so let’s get into the review.
Out Of The Park Baseball 24 Review
What I Like
The standard view for OOTP as a franchise has become too familiar, especially the angled top-down view. This is entirely understandable because of the nature and genre of OOTP being a sports simulation and not a sports video game where one controls the action of the players. So how do the OOTP developers counteract the need for standard whole-field view that allows the user to see the action taking place in real-time?
The answer to that is different camera angles during pre and postgame presentations and action sequences, which is precisely the approach Out of the Park Baseball 24 goes for here. For instance, as the game loads and as the camera pans towards the field, it starts to pan around the stadium to show the entire stadium and the surrounding locale of the area. This brings me into the stadium in a way that creates a feeling of being there.
The presentation improvements do not stop at the pre and postgame entry and exits, as there are optional camera angles to be found during the game as the action unfolds. Camera options that swing high above the stadium show the entire play unfolding right in front of your eyes, and some bring you even closer to the action. Different presentation options and camera angles seem like an easy way to deliver a new experience, yet many developers fail to realize and implement this, especially in yearly sports releases.
A few years ago, the venture into the 3-D foray for OOTP was a huge step. While some still prefer the 2-D presentation, I hopped on the 3-D train and never looked back. We are now a few years into the 3-D presentation campaign by OOTP, and with each release the animation presentation takes a step forward.
While I love the 3-D option, some of the animations in the past played out on the field in the most basic of baseball motions. It still represented the game well but needed more immersion and authenticity.
The developers were adamant about making animation improvements with this year’s release, and it is evident that it was a focus throughout the entire development cycle. While the basic game animations still play out the same way, authenticity is seen and felt to a much larger degree in the nuances and minutia of the sport.
I witnessed an outfielder diving for the ball, and in previous iterations he would have just stayed there flat on the ground until the inning transition, or he would have merely hopped up and headed for the dugout.
For Out of the Park Baseball 24you will now see a player reach the glove out in the air after making a diving play to show he caught the ball and hopped up with excitement.
Other examples include first basemen animations with a different style of stretches and dynamic mitt rotation to help deliver a more organic result at first base, and even infielders diving for the ball only to have it bounce off the mitt and roll away.
Again, these animations are standard to the sport of baseball, and we see them visually in video games and the sport in real life. Still, they’re new to this year’s game and help deliver a level of immersion never seen in the OOTP franchise.
When you combine the new presentation camera angles, the new animations, and the speed with which the action loads and displays, Out of the Park Baseball 24 brings the game of baseball to fans of the series from a different perspective this year, and in doing so, creates a fresh new visual canvas that was sorely needed.
OOTP doesn’t deliver the number of leagues it has in the past due to licensing issues — so much so some would claim that it has been reduced to an MLB game only, which still isn’t an issue for most. That said, the level of depth and options OOTP delivers remains staggering, and trust me when I say that description is not hyperbole.
Even better, as deep as the game goes delivering league and franchise options for the current year and years past, the ability to customize the game to your liking is handled wonderfully. On top of customization options, OOTP also delivers accessibility that allows veterans and newcomers to adjust their experience in a way that delivers a unique experience to suit their needs and wants.
Whether you want your focus solely on the bench, managing the team, or up in the GM box pouring over ways to make your team competitive now and in the future, OOTP easily provides that type of depth and customization. If running a franchise isn’t interesting to you, no problem, OOTP allows for simple current or historical exhibitions, and Perfect Team, a card collecting-based game that can be taken online.
In the end, OOTP allows players to play how they want while learning and adjusting along the way. It offers a level of depth and customization that some would describe as almost unprecedented.
What I Don’t Like
While I often appreciate the step into the 3-D game presentation, a single caveat clashes with that appreciation. Despite the improvements, refinements, and additions the developers have included this year, there is still a lingering issue. Throughout the game, you will see game sequences that play out on the field that break immersion. For example, double plays that are seemingly easy to turn yet the shortstop or second baseman refuses to make the throw to first to complete the double play.
The above is just a small example, but there are others. For instance, relay men who refuse to throw home in an attempt to gun down the runner at the plate. Baserunners who refuse to take the extra base when the opportunity for success seems so visually apparent. Catchers who could have easily thrown the lead runner out on bunt attempts instead take the easy out at first.
There are more scenarios I could describe, and the more you play, the more you will witness.
Yes, the game plays out based on statistical algorithms, and most familiar with this series understand that. Still, there are enough action sequences that take place that I visually consume that create a level of frustration and cause me to talk to the screen and ask the player to complete the play the correct way.
Is the animation synchronization a game-breaker? No, and Out of the Park Baseball 24 still delivers a fantastic experience overall. Still, hopefully the action on the field can continue to be refined in upcoming releases to deliver a more authentic visual experience.
As with any sports game with a long history, Out of the Park Baseball 24 is more about improvements and refinements than new additions. While true, that doesn’t equate to not being worthy of a purchase or an upgrade from last year’s iteration. The presentation and the speed at which in-game transactions take place now is enough, for me at least, to warrant picking up Out of the Park Baseball 24.
On top of that, the development team delivered an improved AI process, dynamic trade deadline, new owner and GM options, the ability to negotiate terms on finances and transactions, and on-screen analytics, including an all-new spray chart. Yes, there is much to learn for those new to the series. Still, the game includes on-screen text tutorials and videos, and the community forums and YouTube are excellent sources for understanding how to utilize what the game offers.
With all the new additions and improvements I have listed above, Out of the Park Baseball 24 delivers a baseball experience that feels authentic both on the field and up in the owner’s office. It’s an experience that can be customized in a way where the difficulty offers a challenge to returning players and a solid level of accessibility for newcomers.