Our Review of Out of the Park Baseball 14 It's all-encompassing and comprehensive. April 17th, 2013
“It’s not too often you hang an 8 on somebody,” said Terry Ryan earlier this week. Ryan was of course referring to the 2-8 scale scouts use to determine a player’s future impact.
Well, Mr. Ryan hasn’t yet played OOTP 14.
From the beginning it’s easy to see that this is an exhaustive, almost all-inclusive simulation that will appeal to the most hardcore of baseball gamers. I’m not a firm believer in comparing games to each other, whether it’s previous incarnations of the same game or a different game altogether, so don’t expect to see comparisons to OOTP 13 or OOTP 6.5, for what it’s worth.
I mention OOTP 6.5 because I’m an old-schooler who is still playing it, and quite frankly it is hard to believe the game has come this far. Right away you’re tasked with choosing unemployment, or from 17 different leagues ranging from Rookie ball to the major leagues. Just input a name, age (no limit, so you can be your own Billy Heywood if you want!), and you’re ready to go.
In fact, the menus could be a bit daunting for a newbie, which certainly can make ‘cannot be fired’ mode a preferable option until one finds themselves up-to-speed with the game.
From the main screen, click on your name and an utter cavalcade of options come up, as you navigate through your personal email, player and staffing shortlists, and an edit screen where you can -- at this risk of sacrilege -- play God and act as a manager of any other team (as long as you’re in commissioner mode). Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but it’s all-encompassing and comprehensive.
Roll over to opening day, and the rosters are almost perfect. The Twins, for instance, come preloaded with injuries to Tim Wood, Scott Diamond, and Anthony Swarzak. All three players started the season on the DL. In fact, if it weren't for Eric Farris, Anthony Slama and Chris Herrmann, OOTP would have nailed the Twins opening day 25-man roster.
And honestly, it’s pretty difficult to expect perfection in this regard. Another incredible similarity is a game-listed payroll of $81,650,000. The Twins opening day payroll, via Baseball Prospectus, was $82,010,000. That is downright amazing. So too is the finances page, which lists the owner’s name, age, patience, and fiscal personality. For instance, Twins owner Jim Pohlad is listed as patient, and a penny-pincher. That seems to fit what the public feels about him.
All of this is customizable, too. If you prefer a less realistic experience, you can change the budget with which you’re afforded, your owners name, and even your home ballpark (complete with park factors!). Another neat function is that you can see player ratings based on your scout -- in the Twins case, real-life scouting director Deron Johnson -- or OSA, which is the OOTP Scouting Association. Like real-life, it is interesting to see how two different sides look at a player.
But now it’s time to hit the play button.
Single games can be simulated, or played through by using command keys to dictate how you want to work your strategy. This includes pitching around a guy, pitching to contact, hitting the batter intentionally, and pretty much anything else you can think of. And if you get tired of going batter by batter, you can skip to specific innings with one simple click. At the end of the game, you can even write a postgame recap if you have any sportswriter tendencies (which shows up in your email the next day, with all kinds of news and computer-generated press releases).
This isn’t a game for someone who wants to blow through it quickly, however. Indeed, one can simulate a day, week, month, or year at a time, but the game will frequently update the player on injury updates, such as activating a pitcher from the DL in Double-A, or something of the like. It could almost come across as annoying to someone trying to simulate to a specific day, like 5/7 when the draft list is published, or 7/1 when the international free agency period begins. In fact, in the first month I played, I had 15 players go on the DL in my organization, and had something like 10 or 12 email interruptions. Again, details details details!
In terms of in-game stuff, almost nothing seems off. The first trade proposal was from the Mariners, and featured Dustin Ackley for Byron Buxton and an organizational arm. Not a trade which would happen in real life, but a much more realistic jumping off point than I’ve seen in many other simulations (such as Scott Baker for Stephen Strasburg). The second was an odd one, as the A’s offered Hiroyuki Nakajima -- in the midst of a 56 OPS+ season -- for closer Glen Perkins (95 ERA+ at the time) and Buxton (108 OPS+ at Cedar Rapids, but a top prospect). The toughest part of determining the realism to me when it comes to trade offers is that nobody really knows what those look like in real life. Obviously they aren’t sent as jokes, and that last one sort of comes across that way, but all-told one weird trade offer doesn’t take away from the overall gaming experience for me.
OOTP14 In Game View
The draft is a tremendously detailed part of the game, diving into slot bonus baselines -- to make sure you don’t spend too much on your top picks -- as well the ability to negotiate bonuses, with compensation picks coming in for unsigned players just like in the big leagues. The international signing period -- like how the Twins signed Miguel Sano -- also has a cash cap in place, like real life, to keep you from overspending. If you do that, you will be penalized, ranging from less money available to fewer contracts you can offer.
Welcome to Draft Day
In essence, one would do well to bone up on the rule book before cracking open the game!
The rest of the game experience is as you’d expect. All-encompassing from the beginning, to the midsummer classic, to expanded rosters, to the postseason. And then it all starts again.
Good luck putting this one down.
*The customization up front (name, birth date, modes [commish mode, gm only, can’t be fired, start w/ team or unemployed])
*17 different leagues (4 Rookie Leagues, 2 short season A, 5 High-A, 3 AA, 2 AAA, ML)
*Velocity readings on individual pitches.
*The statistical interface is pretty much all-encompassing.
*The email system (scouting reports, news, and more)
*The financial system (complete with international spending limits, etc.)
* Intricacies (owners can pass away, international scouting and leagues, an incredible number of statistics including WAR, wOBA, and OPS+)
*Menus do run a *little* on the slow side.
*The interfacing is a little overwhelming/complicated.
* Trade proposals can -- at times -- be a little weird.
Overall, there's almost a cautionary tale to be had here: Buy it, you'll like it. But you might like it too much.
The game is whatever you make it. Literally. It can be as detailed or as simple as you wish, and if it's on your laptop, it can go with you wherever. That's incredible.
Customization It quite literally deserves an 11 here. There's almost nothing one couldn't change on this game if they felt like it.
Bradley Woodrum of Fangraphs said it best: "The game keeps itself fresh, constantly. Loved ones will be neglected."
Online The only drawback here might be finding enough people that are as into the game as you. Also, 40-man rosters and Rule-5 stuff can be extremely difficult to keep up with among mixed company. None of this is the game's fault, though.
Presentation The only thing that has to happen is to find a way to make the menus less busy, or maybe searchable. Still, after a short learning curve it gets easier. And harder, that is, to put the game down. Also: Online updates. Keep an eye out for them.
February 26th, 2013 - Brian Nichols, aka Heavyreign, has been making basketball games for years. His newest effort, Fast Break Pro Basketball 3, is on the verge of release (you can currently download the beta version and play it to your hearts’ content.) Furthermore, you can give him feedback, on the GreyDogSoftware forums.
I have long been entranced with his college product, Fast Break College Basketball, and wanted to pick his brain regarding his latest work.
John Comey (GM Games): What have you found to be the most difficult part of making FBPB3?
The tough thing for me has been finishing. I've stopped and started so many times and each time you start up again it takes time to figure out where you were. The original code for the historical database was done in 2004 or 2005. The game has seen three different interfaces. The whole issue with the Sonics being sold to Clay Bennet and moved to Oklahoma City actually killed my interest in the NBA for a couple years. When I started working on programming again in 2009 it just made sense to me to work on the college game instead because I was still frustrated with the NBA.
John Comey (GM Games): Is there something about making this game that has changed you as a fan or developer? Is there any chance that any of these changes will find their way into future games?
The amount of statistical data available around the internet has gone up dramatically the last few years. One of the biggest things for me has been the data about how much players shoot from the different zones on the floor. This has been a huge help in making the engine more realistic. When I start working on the next version of the college game I'll need to make similar changes.
John Comey (GM Games): How close is FBPB3 to the ideal basketball game out of the box, in your opinion?
What I'm shooting for is a game that is fun for as many people as possible. The ideal game for me might be something like Football Manager with basketball and I've got a lot of work to do reach that point. I'm someone who feels like there is always more that could be done so it isn't really possible for me to look at the state of one of my games and be satisfied.
John Comey (GM Games): What feature has surprised you the most?
I've had a ton of fun playing around with the historical mode. I've spent a bunch of time just starting up the league in a certain year and then watching to see what happens.
John Comey (GM Games):What feature hasn't lived up to your hopes or expectations?
I'd hoped to get more done with the foreign leagues. Really this whole section of the game could've been the basis for a new release all on its own.
John Comey (GM Games): What is atop your to-do list, in terms of future features?
Long term one of the major goals will be expanding on what I've offered with the option to run leagues all over the world at the same time. There are competitions between teams from multiple leagues like the Euroleague so I'd like to build towards adding those. From there you can get into international competitions like the Olympics. These things help the universe feel more alive.
John Comey (GM Games): We live in a community that seems to predicate more in immersion. Have you adjusted your approach to your games, either philosophically or in terms of actual development, as a result of this? Basically, how have your own thoughts about what your games should be aligned with what your market has sought?
What makes a game immersive is different for everyone so I try and add things that appeal to different people. The print screen option was a big help for people who write about their own dynasties. The historical database would make the game more interesting to people who are interested in the history of the game. The customization options are big for people who want to create their own world or possibly mimic a system that is already in existence. Another big thing was making it possible to run multiple leagues at once. Just having a larger game universe means there are more stories out there to follow. Football Manager is a very immersive game for me and very deep but you have to be careful about what you add. Added depth can also mean added busywork that is less fun.
John Comey (GM Games): The one thing I see in other games, that I have yet to add, is...
The big thing these days seems to be a 2d or 3d display of the action. I'm not sure if that is something I'd ever want to attempt however.
John Comey (GM Games): What sets you apart from other developers? What sets FBPB apart from other games?
One thing I've heard from people is that I am more open to feedback than most developers. I've added small things that it is possible only matters to one person but if it won't make the experience worse for everyone else then I have no problem taking a little time doing that.
As far as the game, the big thing for me is customization. If you get bored with one format the possibility is there to mix it up.
John Comey (GM Games): I know that the creation of FBPB has been a difficult process, from a personal standpoint (as you've spoken about the issues you've gone through in the past). What has been the most satisfying aspect of making this new game?
Honestly, the feedback I got when I posted the first public beta has been a huge boost to me. I actually had it ready for close to a week before I posted it but I was nervous about what the response would be. It has been such a long process and I wasn't sure how I would handle it if the feedback was massively negative. It probably says something about the various issues I've been going through that I considered that to be a possibility. I've been kind of conditioned to expect the worst. It kind of goes back to the first FBCB. I think I started living alone for the first time in my life about a month or two before FBCB was finished. I made a game that I enjoyed playing. I'm sure it didn't come near the type of sales that Jim (Gindin) or Markus (Heinsohn) likely get but I was happy with it. The initial feedback was good but there was also a ton of drama going on at the time. A big thing was the whole issue with Joe Stallings trying to negatively influence a review of FBCB. My frustration with what was going on at the time combined with the issues with living alone resulted in me staying away from text sims for a while. It didn't really sink in for me how much fun people had playing the game until several years later when I was reading though the main thread for the game at FOFC.
Hall of Fame Potential? A Quick Look at FBPB3 February 23rd, 2013
I’ve finally had some time to sit down and play the Fast Break Pro Basketball 3 (FBPB3) demo. This is a game I’ve been looking forward to ever since Grey Dog Software announced it, which already feels like ages ago.
I’m not sure what’s going to happen first: a Led Zeppelin reunion tour or the actual release of FBPB3. I’m not sure if the senior citizen version of Zeppelin would be worth the wait. Judging by the demo, FBPB3 probably is.
3 Cool Things:
• Everything you would want in a basketball sim appears to be in this game. That sounds overly simplistic, but it sums the demo up perfectly. The groundwork for an awesome game is built. Let’s see if the full version fulfills the potential displayed by the demo.
• The game is easy to navigate. The menus and design aren’t as pretty as Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 3, but they feel more practical. I don’t have to pause and think about where I need to click in order to get to where I need to go.
• It doesn’t take long to get immersed in your basketball world. The easy-to-navigate screens make it simple to access and read about everything happening in the league. I can only imagine how much more immersive the game will be once some photo sets, logo packs and other user mods are created.
Play-by-Play and In-Game View
3 Things I Wish Were Different • I wish there was a career basketball sim with a coaching mode where you could actually call plays during games. You can call individual plays in Action PC Basketball, but that’s a single-season replay sim.
• I’m not a fan of the colored squares on the player rating’s screen. I forget what each color stands for and it drives me nuts.
• Editing the depth chart should be easier. You have to highlight a player, then click a “move up” or “move down” button get him where you want him. There should be a drag-and-drop or dropdown menu option.
3 Final Thoughts • The first rule of career sims: Don’t judge them on the demo. I purposely didn’t discuss the realism of the game’s stats, trade logic or other AI factors. I know the developer is still tweaking a few things in these areas and we should reserve judgment until the full game is released (For the record, nothing stood out as egregiously off).
• The historical aspect of FBPB3 will make it an all-time great, or just another fun game. The demo allows you to play the 2012-13 season, and that’s it. The full version is set to have complete rosters and ratings for every player and team going back to 1946 (at no additional cost). If that portion of the game runs smoothly and is as cool as it sounds, this game could end up in the career sim hall of fame.
• A few misc items to finish up: 1) Importing draft classes from FBCB2 was easy; 2) The game developer has been great about answering questions and providing support on forums here and here; 3) No release date has been announced, but it sounds like we’re getting close. Check back here for a full review once the game is available
January 25, 2013 - Out of the Park Developments has announced that Out of the Park Baseball 14 will be released in early April, and can be pre-ordered now. A pre-order before February 15th will save $5. Starting February 16th the price becomes the regular $39.99, but you still get the game 3 days early on a pre-order.
2013 roster set, which features up-to-date Opening Day rosters for all major league teams but also thousands of individually-rated players for all minor leagues and hundreds of players from the 2013 first-year player draft class. Major league player ratings are officially based on Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projection system.
Completely Recoded Player Origin System
Completely recoded player origin to make your league's development much more realistic. There are now 5 different ways new players enter the league, and each one can be customized for the number of created players and their nationalities:
The First-Year Player Draft: By default, players in the draft pool are now from the USA, Canada or Puerto Rico. However, the nationality can be tweaked in great detail and can also include a set percentage of random nationalities. That also applies to the following optional player entry methods.
International Amateur Top Prospects (optional): These players are typically 16-to-17-years-old who have a reputation of being top talents. They appear as free agents in a new special international section of the league transaction screen and most likely will demand contracts with high signing bonuses (another new feature). You can customize the number of these players who will be created each year.
Established International Free Agents (optional): These players are typically from Japan, South Korea, Cuba, Taiwan and Mexico and are between 22 and 32 years old. They typically have slightly below average major league talent, but there will be the occasional star player, like Yu Darvish, Ichiro, or Aroldis Chapman.
International Scouting Discoveries (optional): Your team's scouts constantly evaluate the international leagues as they seek young, raw, and unknown talent. The success of your head scout is determined by the scouting budget, the quality of your scout, and his assigned regions. When your head scout discovers a player who he feels may have a shot at becoming a pro, that player is automatically assigned to your team's new international complex. Players in the international complex may remain there until their 20th birthdays, after which they will have to be assigned to a minor league team or released.
Players from Independent Leagues (optional): You may also have your head scout look for talent in hidden independent leagues. These players are typically from the league home nation, but once in a while an international talent may be discovered here too. Independent league players are typically in their early-to-mid-20s and usually only have an outside shot at becoming borderline major league players. However, there may be the occasional feel-good success story.
Recoded Player Creation Algorithms
Recoded OOTP's complex player creation routines. This ensures more stable long-term simulations and more realistic player careers and stats output.
New Fielding Ratings Development System
In real life, young players usually start out playing positions that demand a certain grade of athleticism. However, as players mature, they often grow out of these so-called skill positions (such as shortstop, catcher, or center field) and have to shift to the right side of the defensive spectrum. This is now properly modeled in the OOTP player development engine. For example, if you draft that talented 18-year-old 6'3" 175 lb shortstop, you may end up with a below-average 230 lb corner outfielder eventually.
Recoded Scouting System
Recoded the way OOTP evaluates players, both for the OOTP Scouting Agency ("OSA") and your head scout. For example, players with several years of pro experience are now better scouted than in previous versions, and the OSA is more accurate overall, providing a valid second opinion on players. There are also players who are vastly overrated or underrated by almost all scouts, resulting in more late-round surprises.
Better Player Development Tracking
OOTP now properly tracks the development of your players and offers several ways to analyze the data. You receive monthly player development updates from your head scout (or the OSA, if scouts are disabled), who highlights the most important changes, such as when a pitcher in the lower minor leagues learns a new pitch and improves his prospect status.
Expanded Real-Time Simulation Experience
Adding an expanded view on a single game that is currently in progress. This new view shows you the most important facts of the selected game, like the current batter-pitcher matchup, past plays, basic box scores, win probability, and so forth.
Added a screen that keeps track of all the trades in the history of the league, with a detailed look at the involved players' salaries, overall ratings, prospect rankings, and so forth. OOTP 14 also adds a "Not interested in Player X" function that prevents the AI from repeatedly offering a certain player to you.
On top of these headline features, we are tweaking and improving other areas of the game too, such as:
- Improved interface
- Better player evaluation AI
- Roster AI recoding, resulting in better managing of minor leagues and the 40-man roster
- Better contract negotiation AI
- Improved depth charts and pitching staff control, i.e. list your preferred pinch-hitters, pinch-runners and "LOOGY"-Pitcher.
- New graphical depth chart screen
-Improved league strategy settings; i.e., define the number of starting pitchers, relief pitchers, and position players carried by the AI teams, split by DH and non-DH sub-leagues.
- Smarter in-game AI
- Improved in-game control, including "Pitch to Contact" option and better stealing control in one-pitch mode
- Much more storylines
- Improved play-by-play commentary
- One-click joining of online leagues
- New playoff series analysis screen
GM Games will be following the release of OOTP14 very closely. Brandon Warne, our lead Baseball writer is eager to bring you his take.
Review of Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 2 Coaching in college is a lot of work. But it can also be very rewarding. December 8th, 2012
Why anybody would choose to coach college sports over professional sports is mind-boggling.
I realize most college coaches would jump at the opportunity to coach in the pros, but there are a handful who choose not to. Those coaches are crazy.
I suppose there is something to be said for being the king of a campus instead of just another pro coach that has a slim chance of lasting more than a few years. But look at how much more work coaching in college is!
• Recruiting. Forget about game-planning and scouting your opponent. A good chunk of your time is visiting the inner-cities, suburbs and farmlands of America, trying to convince 16- and 17-year-old kids to come play for you.
• Homework. You have to worry about your players flunking out of school. Can you imagine if Phil Jackson had to keep on Jordan and Rodman to do their homework?
• Athletic Directors and Boosters. The boosters are paying for your fancy new practice facility and the athletic director is a bureaucrat with a PhD.
I think you get the point. Coaching in college is a lot of work. Tedious work. But it can also be very rewarding.
All of that is captured in Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 2 (DDS: CB2).
As soon as you dive into DDS: CB2, you will be busy. You need to know that before starting. Otherwise you will get overwhelmed.
This isn’t a game where you can just adjust your gameplan a bit, pick up a few players with high star ratings and watch the season unfold.
Once you create your coach and get hired by somebody, you start right up with summer travel to camps held throughout the country. You need to learn a bit about each camp, consider the cost to attend, and pick the one you think best meets your needs.
Sure, it’d be nice to attend the Indy Elite Camp, but would it be smarter to attend a cheaper camp and use your recruiting budget elsewhere? (Going broke early in the recruiting process is a bad strategy, by the way.)
Once you decide which camp to attend, your schedule really gets hectic.
This is where the real work starts. When you first open the recruiting screen, you might just stare at it for a while, trying to figure out where to start. It can be daunting, but once you get the hang of it, you start to develop a system and some strategies so you don’t feel so overwhelmed.
The entire country is at your fingertips when you recruit. Want to pursue the No. 1 kid in the country? Go ahead. Want to focus on your own state? That’s not a bad idea. Want to mine a certain region of the county? Also doable.
Build your program .. Get recruiting!
Of course, your strategies depend on who you’re coaching. If you’re a top-ranked program like Duke or North Carolina, you’ll be chasing the top recruits. If you’re a tiny school that few people have heard of, you’ll be wasting your time if you recruit the top guys instead of focusing on players in your own state or region.
Of course, recruits don’t decide if they want to play for you right away. You need to stay in touch by putting them on your call list, inviting them to campus, and monitoring their interest. Eventually, depending on how well you do in the courting process, they’ll sign a letter of intent or tell you to buzz off.
I’m not going to explain every last detail of how recruiting works because that would take too many words. If you’re looking for a game with a fair recreation of what actual recruiting probably feels like – the highs, the lows, the excitement, the disappointment, the work – this is the game for you.
If you don’t want to be consumed by recruiting like a real-life college coach, you should probably find a different game.
I’ve always found it difficult to make a connection with players in college sims. There are thousands of players from hundreds of schools with all kinds of ratings and stats that you have to sort through to find guys you might want to recruit. It can feel like combing through a spreadsheet.
DDS: PB2’s presentation does as good a job as possible of helping you get to know a player so he doesn’t just feel like a giant glob of text and numbers.
Each player has a face photo. His ratings and stats (and there are a lot of them) are organized in a way that makes sense and is easy to read. If you want to add a player to your call list, watch him live, watch him on film, pay him a visit, etc., you can do that easily with one click from the player information screen.
Player Card - Huskers Shooting Guard
The theme of this review so far has been how much work being a college coach is, especially recruiting. It’s also a lot of work in DDS: CB2, but the game’s presentation makes that work a lot more fun than it otherwise would be.
While everything you do off the court is in-depth, rewarding and very real, on the court leaves you feeling a little empty.
DDS: CB2 suffers from the same thing as its counterpart pro game suffers from: Once the actual games start, you’re pretty much relegated to being a spectator.
Yes, you can set your overall team strategies, depth charts, rotation grids and all that. You can even adjust your strategies during each game, but there are no options to call specific plays on a possession-by-possession basis. It’s frustrating because the game feels so hands-on off the court that you want it to feel just as hands-on on the court.
You want to have the option to control each possession so you can really make sure your recruiting and game-planning strategies pay off. Instead, once the games actually start, it kind of feels like a letdown.
Some players might like the more distant approach to the actual games. I guess that’s a personal preference. But it’d be nice to at least have the option to immerse yourself into each game with specific playcalling.
If you’re looking to dive headfirst into all the ins and outs of being a college basketball coach, this game is more than worth your time. The depth and realism of recruiting is amazing and the all the other little things that represent the good and bad of college coaching are well-represented.
If you get scared off by in-depth player research and daily grind type of activities and would rather just call plays during a game, you might want to look elsewhere.
Everything that makes DDS: CB2 great will likely scare some people off. It’s very realistic, probably too realistic for some. Not everyone is going to be patient or dedicated enough to do the work required to recruit and maintain a successful program.
Those who do want to put in the time will appreciate the game’s presentation and immersion making their jobs more enjoyable.
Recruiting is deep and realistic. Stats and results are realistic. There are plenty of stats and ratings to pore through. The only thing lacking is in-game strategy and playcalling.
Customization It's easy to change team nicknames and other things, but players looking to start their own college basketball world from scratch will probably be disappointed. There is also an easy-to-use community created real-world mod that can be used.
As long as you have the patience to keep plugging away, you will always find yourself coming back to this game. Something the game feels like work, though, which might force you to take a break for a while.
Online GM Games did not have the opportunity to play the game online.
Presentation The game's graphical presentation and layout really help you connect with the randomly generated players. It also makes recruiting and player research less monotonous.
Our Review of PureSim5 Baseball Definitely one of the Better Baseball Sims on the Market. November 16th, 2012
It may be November, but if you’re anything like me, baseball is never far from your mind. And while console games like MLB The Show, and for many of you, the old MVP series, there are a great many players who are looking for something to fill more of the fantasy void. As a fantasy owner of eight teams, I feel your pain.
Insert PureSim5, a baseball simulation modeled after the OOTP series that most people are aware of. If you’re not an OOTP fiend like I am, here’s the link to one of my leagues: www.netsportssimm.com. From there, you can get a feel for what simulation leagues look like. I’m in two of these -- unfortunately, the archaic OOTP 6.5, which is fun but can’t hold a candle to the newer versions -- and basically the gist of it is that you start a league in whatever season you want, and progress from there. As you can see, we are in the midst of the 2042 offseason. I’m the Minnesota Twins, and am trying to spend additional money because the way finances work in the game dictates that I can’t pocket any more ‘cash’. Sounds weird to associate that with the Twins, but it’s where I’m at.
Actually, we did the exact same league and it crashed about 40-45 years in -- essentially where we’re at now -- so that tells you a. how long we’ve kept these two leagues together and b. that I’ve essentially played about 150-200 sim seasons (including defunct leagues). Indeed, I’ve been around the block a time or two on sim games.
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty on PureSim5. At the open screen, you get five choices and ‘quit’. You can do the following: New Game, Load Game, Quick Load, Mod Files, and Options. Most of those are self-explanatory, though I think Mod Files may be an exception. The Mod Files are where you can download things such as MLB faces, logos, and ballparks, as well as fictional team logos, All-Time logos, and background images. All of these serve to make the gameplay more customizable, and most of them are inherent to previous versions of PureSim. To get a feel for the game, I’ve downloaded the face pack. Adding packs to the game is relatively simple; all you do is download it and the game will add it automatically. I recommend restarting the game to make sure the update takes, but it doesn’t appear to be necessary.
One thing I noticed while tooling around the game is the discrepancy between the good players and the bad ones. The good players have consistently good rankings; free agents and poor players do not. And while this might be a Captain Obvious statement, part of me wondered if the gorge between the two is a bit too sizable. Like Madden in previous years, it serves to truly differentiate the haves from the have nots -- because let’s face it, three years ago nobody was chasing down Devin Hester from behind -- and that’s probably for the best since these players are free agents for a reason.
PureSim5 Player Cards
Opening a new game brings you a nice handful of options. You can start a game in PureSim classic mode, PureSim classic quick stars (you choose the number of teams, divisions, etc.), Major League Career (choose your year and format), Major League Career Tru-Transaction mode (you manage, GM makes moves as they occurred in real life), and Sandbox mode (any season 1900-present, with real players if you wish). Finally, you can choose your ratings format: 1-100, the 20-80 scouting scale, a number of 1-xx formats, and finally, no scoring whatsoever. The last option is how you want finances, market sizing, and free agency to work. You can be the equalizer with all markets the same size, or you can have it just like it is.
For the intents of my review, I’ll be the Minnesota Twins -- team I’m most familiar with -- and will sim through the entire 2011 season to keep it fresh and timely. Unfortunately, a 2012 option doesn’t appear to be available yet. So we have normal market sizes, free agency, and all that goes with what I feel should be an accurate replication of the 2011 baseball season. Let’s see if I can prevent the Twins from losing 99 games again!
Right from the get-go you choose your file name for a save; this is nothing revolutionary, you just have to make sure you can remember it. Then you select your team and change them off CPU. Then comes even further customization for your ‘association’ -- your league, in essence -- such as choosing size of rosters from 35-60 -- I’m using 40 like in real life -- as well as making expansion possible, allowing ratings to change in-season, and a handful of others. Here are the ones I enabled:
Injuries Can Occur
Player Ratings Can Change In-Season
Allow Computer AI Trades
Use Player Photos
Import Players Prior to their MLB Debut
I also selected a strict fatigue/durability model -- as opposed to age-based -- as well as DH in the AL, five-man rotations and closers on a pitching staff, and importing players’ historical stats. Finally, I selected TRU-life for the player development engine; essentially this models what players did in that real time frame, with potential adjustments due to natural variation and the like.
Random thought at this point: Wow. This game is very thorough on the front end. The final piece before starting the game is to import the major league players from the season that you’ve chosen. So far, the setup for a game might turn off people looking for a more basic interface, but if one can get past the intro, there are clearly options for players looking for all different playing experiences. Additionally, you can update some, not all of the options as your season goes along, so don’t fret making too many hasty decisions when starting up the game.
Spring training is the first activity that awaits prospective players, and it’s basically just a simulation of the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues that we’ve grown to love as baseball fans. I’ve never really known anyone to enjoy these parts of games anyway, so I don’t think simulating through the spring is much of detraction. Before opening the season, PSPN -- clever, huh? -- posts its preseason power rankings -- Twins 22nd -- and an annual “most feared hitters” list. It’s a pretty cool feature, even if I don’t agree with the methodology (batting average and home runs? yuck). There’s also a “frugal or fancy free” feature that profiles team payroll. Again, cool feature, but not exactly necessary. Onto the season! We’ll be using the real 2011 schedule.
At the season opening screen, you can do a number of things. You can edit your association notes -- essentially a notepad -- as well as check season stats on an ESPN-like interface. It’s pretty cool, to be honest.
ESPN..err we mean PSPN Coverage!
Let’s have a peek at the roster and front office options. From the front office you can edit a lot of things -- keep in mind, I’m on commissioner mode -- such as GM and manager tendencies, as well as managing every single part of your roster. It’s really an in-depth, well done aspect of the game.
For this review, I’m going to try to improve the Twins club from within, using the best 25 men at my discretion to try keep the Twins from repeating their worst season in club history. Just for fun, I tried out the trade interface, and the Angels offered Tyler Chatwood for Danny Valencia. That seems like a pretty good offer, and leads me to trust the engine behind this game pretty well. Similarly, hitting ‘shop player’ will suggest a handful of players that other teams are willing to offer you. At this point, I have to tip my cap to whomever programmed the game engine, as this is well done.
Before I start the first game, I survey my front page with lineups and so on. The ‘Ask a Scout’ feature is pretty cool, where you can consult your local ‘scout’ on how he sees fit to update your team.
In the interest of brevity -- you’re clearly laughing at this 1400 words in -- I’m just going to start with the rosters as-is. Strangely, player stats for 2011 -- such as Joe Benson’s cup of coffee -- are in the game. For me, that makes 2011 rosters a bit strange.
Options for each individual game, as well as yours, are QuickSim and PSPNCast, which is similar to GameCast on ESPN. On your own game, you can also manage, which is the third option. I’ll manage game one before I sim for a bit. Game one features Carl Pavano and Ricky Romero, and before the game you get the option to alter your pitcher and batting lineup, as well as weather conditions and a few ‘quick facts’ before heading into the game interface.
The home page lists your lineup, the defensive players on the field presently, and some stat interfaces as well as a list of roster options available to you -- pinch hitters and relievers, essentially. Every time you strike ‘enter’ the game progresses one more step. You have the option to hit the B key (bunt), L key (lineup), 2 key (to steal second or third with 3 button, based on your base running situation), H key for hit and run, and much more. It’s really in-depth.
In the first inning, Alexi Casilla reached via a single, Delmon Young was hit by a pitch, and Jim Thome singled to center. I’m given the option to run on Corey Patterson (84 arm) with Casilla (71 speed). I went aggressive and scored, but this is a pretty cool option. So far, I’m really digging this game, and we’re just a few hitters in, even though the batting lineup with Joe Mauer hitting seventh and Jim Thome playing third is, shall we say, a bit odd.
Now, with Pavano on the mound and a runner on, I have the option to check the lineup, walk a guy intentionally, pitch around him, change my infield and outfield positioning, and do a pitchout or a pickoff move. Again, very thorough, as the Blue Jays score a pair of runs to make it 2-1. Now I’m not going to bore you with how the game turned out, so I’ve auto completed to the end of the game. Final score: Minnesota 4, Toronto 3 in 12 innings. Glen Perkins got the win, so for the fun of it, I checked his ratings. 85 stuff, 79 control, and 70 velocity. The 52 endurance is a bit high, perhaps mixing his starting days with his closer days into making him a possible rotation candidate, but even games like MLB The Show goof this sort of thing. I can’t complain too much.
I’ve opted to simulate through April at this point. The game pauses to give you options, such as pausing to see new issues of the PSPN magazine, and to let you know if there are injuries or trades proposed. On the left side of the screen is an overlay updating you on statistical leaders, such as Jered Weaver with the most wins, Fausto Carmona with the most walks, and even some team stats, such as Denard Span with a .372 OBP. This really helps the game have a good MLB feel to it.
At the end of April, the Twins are 13-16. Not good, but fortunately only a game-and-a-half out of first place. So basically, bad Twins and a bad division, just like 2011. Another pause the game makes is for scouts to evaluate talent periodically each month, which is a pretty cool feature. Oddly, simulating a month stopped at June 3, so I’m thinking it goes month-to-date rather than calendar month. No matter, as the Twins enter June in first place 30-27, with a three-and-a-half game lead on Detroit.
Now, we’ll move onto the All Star break, which takes us through July 10. Hold up; the Nationals are interested in trading for Scott Baker on June 21. Let’s take a look, shall we? The Nationals gave a list of one-for-one trades they would make. This list includes Tom Gorzelanny, Wilson Ramos, and.....Stephen Strasburg? Well, I’d be a fool to pass that up, but I think it’s a negative strike against the game engine, as this would never happen. In fact, up until the break, I got offers on every single major player on the Twins roster -- I didn’t take or even look at any of them -- as well as guys like Ben Revere and Trevor Plouffe. I like to envision this as how Terry Ryan’s phone might ring, but if the deals were anything like Baker-for-Strasburg, then you could probably assemble an All Star team in no time.
Fast forward to July, and from what I gather, there is no All Star game, just an All Star Break. Not a huge mark against the game, but an oddity to be sure. The stats at the break seem pretty reasonable, with the exception of Joe Mauer hitting .252/.333/.319 with just 3 home runs. What’s pretty cool is the game calculated his WAR (-0.1), wOBA (.300), and that he’d thrown out 49 percent of all attempted base thieves. As a huge sabermetrics geek -- I work for Fangraphs after all -- these are wonderful additions to the game engine.
Now we’ll simulate through August 31 to have a peek at the roster expansion options. On the way as we approach the trade deadline, plenty of deals proposed make sense, such as Span to Tampa Bay and Morneau to Toronto. I like to see a trade engine in games that can at least be somewhat realistic -- Strasburg notwithstanding. A quick peek-in during late July shows the team under .500 at 52-54 and still leading the Central. Yikes. It also showed 14 complete games for Cliff Lee in Philadelphia, which seems a bit high.
On September 1, a note pops up alerting the GM to make his call-ups to get to a 40-man roster, which I just auto’d. At a 40-man roster, you’ll obviously have to move some guys around to get them work, but it’s extremely realistic. On September 28th, the Twins clinched the division with a 78-83 record, and it led to a matchup with Boston in the ALDS. Obviously, after September you have to send players back down for a 25-man playoff roster. With little surprise, the Red Sox dispatched the Twins in three games. In game seven of the World Series, Roy Halladay outdueled Ervin Santana, and the Phillies won the World Series.
PSPN gives awards at the end of the season in a pretty cool format, and there are plenty of awards, such as Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and a handful of others. Afterwards, when you head to the offseason, a prompt comes up with a score out of 1,000. For instance, my Twins score was 635, and three straight years under 500 will result in a GM being dismissed, which is a cool, if simple element of realism. After a pre-offseason evaluation of talent, we’re ready to start the offseason, which I’ll attempt to abbreviate to keep you reading.
After retirement, ranking of players, updating the almanac, listing individual and team records broken in-season, and talent evaluation, we’re ready to begin the offseason. The draft picks aren’t totally listed in a way that’s easy to find players, but the menus sort quite easily, based on talents and bonus demands. After the draft is completed, free agency starts, and the list pretty much accurately resembles last offseason’s list, with players like David Ortiz, and Jamey Carroll, but also some oddities like Alex Rodriguez. All in all, most things make sense, with the exception of Kevin Kouzmanoff asking for $3-plus million per season. And now, we’re back to the beginning.
All told, this is a fun game as long as you aren’t 100 percent committed to reality and realism. I’d definitely recommend it as a sim if you’re looking for something to supplement OOTP or something of the like.
Our Review of Football Manager 2013 Still catering to the obsessed, but now with more to offer casual players. November 9th, 2012
There's no such thing as a worldwide holiday for fans of soccer sims (or football, if you prefer), but if there was, it would probably be the day a new iteration of the Football Manager series goes live. As it always does, Sports Interactive's labor of love attempts to capture the beautiful game, and specifically, managing a club or national team in pretty much any country that plays soccer, in more detail than any other title would dare to try. But while hardcore fans have a few new things to look forward to in Football Manager 2013 (FM2013), the big focus for the latest release is a host of features designed to help people who aren't longtime devotees give the game a shot.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, as one of the traits shared by the last decade or so of Football Manager games is their daunting, all-consuming complexity. Any good sports sim can be a time sink, but not many can tie up hours of your life in-between each match. Let's just say there's a good reason why memes popped up about wives threatening to leave their husbands over too much time spent with Football Manager.
To combat the problem of marriage-wrecking commitment, FM2013 introduces a whole new way to play with Football Manager Classic. This mode is different enough that it could be (and almost was, according to the developers) its own distinct game, but it's essentially a way to enjoy the experience of running your own team without several layers of the details that the series has built up over the years.
The interface for Football Manager Classic is the first thing that grabs your attention. Though it’s similar to the one used by the full-featured mode, it’s easier to read – literally, as the font for every screen is bigger – and much of the information is presented in a more intuitive, highly visual fashion. Important bits of news still come to your inbox, but the game also summarizes tidbits from around the world of soccer and presents them in a newsletter, where you can click on any story and blow it up in its own pop-up window.
That world is smaller, too, as launching a new career in Football Manager Classic allows you to choose just three countries in which to ply your trade. This helps things simulate at a much faster pace, as does the simplified gameplay. There’s less of an emphasis on training, and the tactical options are also streamlined a bit. Media interaction is limited to single questions that go straight to your inbox. Matches can still be played in the 3D engine, so there’s nothing missing from the match day experience.
The FM2013 team has been quick to point out in interviews that the Classic mode is different than just allowing the assistant manager to handle tasks you’d rather not sully yourself with in standard mode, as those aspects of the game are actually removed from play altogether. The goal is to enable players to get through a whole season in a relatively sane amount of time, and it succeeds beautifully on that front. Whether realism suffers as a result of the streamlining remains to be seen, but it’s easy to imagine people who just want to win a league title with their favorite club team making this their preferred mode.
Hardcore sim fans will probably take a less enthusiastic view of something else that Football Manager Classic introduces to the series, which is an in-game store. The idea of having additional content purchases on top of a full-priced game is controversial enough, but some of the items on sale here really do let players “cheat” the game: An option to see all the players in the game without scouting them, an automatic override of a boardroom decision, and even a direct infusion of transfer funds, to name a few. Most of these boosts can be unlocked by accomplishing certain goals while playing, but their presence alone seems like it has the potential to be a divisive topic.
FM2013 also offers another way to play in smaller chunks of time by borrowing the challenges from Football Manager Handheld. These are relatively short scenarios requiring you to complete a specific task, like saving a floundering team from relegation or living up to the board’s goals despite suffering a nasty rash of injuries. A fifth challenge is already available through the in-game store, which makes sense as a method of delivering even more content down the road.
Long term or to the transfer market?
The standard Football Manager mode also got plenty of attention from Sports Interactive, though most of it feels like it was in the 3D match engine. Along with improved animations that add a greater sense of realism to the action on the pitch, a series of drop-down menus at the top of the screen make it easier than ever to adjust tactics or make substitutions on the fly. Pop-up windows announce bookings and other events during simmed portions of the match, and scoring updates from other games going on at the same time let you know if you are moving up or down the table. Real time advice from your assistant manager and ongoing updates on your players’ body language give you even more guidance on what moves to make.
More in-depth Game Play
As always, FM2013 has done extensive research on leagues all over the world, and you can choose to manage in over 50 countries. Individual player training has been redone to allow each athlete’s regimen to be controlled in fairly exhaustive detail. Press conferences and player interactions have sadly received few tweaks aside from the choice of tone you use when addressing people (calm, reluctant, passionate, aggressive, etc.), and a wider range of questions from the media is at the top of this reviewer’s wish list for next year. As it stands, talking to the press is kind of a catch-22 – too important to team morale to skip but too tedious to be fun.
Transfer negotiations haven’t changed too much either, with the exception of a little more insight into how different agents affect the process. The Football Manager games have always handled the transfer business in admirably realistic fashion, no small task considering how crazy it can get in real life. Many players routinely turn their noses up at leagues they consider beneath them, and it’s not hard to find others who have inflated senses of their own worth. Taxes have been added to the game’s financial model to keep rich teams from abusing the system too much, something supporters of smaller clubs no doubt wish would happen more in the actual sport.
Both the standard and Classic modes can be played online against other human managers, and the game’s Steam integration makes it easier than ever to find a league to join. SI also added Versus mode for quicker head-to-head action, including tournaments of up to 32 teams and small leagues of two to six teams. It’s not quite a substitute for the late, lamented Football Manager Live (lamented by this reviewer anyway), but it is the widest array of online options we’ve seen in the series to date.
About the only thing that remains absent from FM2013 is the player likenesses and logos from the Premier League, the UEFA Champions League and a few other competitions, as their rights remain tied up in other games. Fortunately it’s easy to get them into your copy of the game, as the community of modders to assist you with image files remains active and vibrant.
Soccer arguably depends on stats less than any other major sport, so it can’t be easy to create a soccer sim that is heavy on realism while also remaining fun to play. Somehow Sports Interactive has been pulling it off for years, and with the additions to FM2013 making it more playable than ever, it should remain as addictive as ever this season.
Total score out of 10
Few changes to the core gameplay mechanics, but Football Manager Classic is a whole new way to play. It has the potential to draw in new players while remaining a viable choice for hardcore fans.
Customization The ability to manage teams all over the world is a part of both standard and Classic modes, thought only from 2012 forward. A large modding community can help get missing player images and logos into the game.
Numerous options here, enhanced by the challenges brought in from the mobile game. The in-game store hints at even more content to come.
Online Strong than ever this year thanks to Steam, standard and Classic careers can both be played online. New Versus leagues are also welcome additions for online games without much set-up hassle.
Presentation The 3D match engine got an upgrade to the anitmations and the UI. Football Manager Classic looks great thanks to its visual approach to relaying information.
Review of Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 3 Could a Basketball GM sim revolution be on the horizon? November 8th, 2012
Stats and analytics aren’t just for baseball nerds any more. The geeks have made their way into basketball.
Due to its endless statistics and 162 games worth of data, baseball has traditionally been the sport that was the most popular in the text sim world. With analytics and stats now taking hold in basketball front offices and the hoops blogosphere, could a basketball GM sim revolution be on the horizon?
If it is, one of the games leading the charge will be Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 3 (DDS: PB3), the latest offering from Gary Gorski at Wolverine Studios.
DDS: PB3 features a completely revamped user interface, artificial intelligence, contract rules and the introduction of season disks that allow you to start with a full league history and import draft classes.
The second version of Gorski’s pro game was excellent and more than filled my need for a fun, realistic and challenging NBA sim. I recently started playing the third version, so let’s take a look at how it stacks up:
The first thing you notice after firing up DDS: PB3 is how great the game looks. It’s the GM sim version of a picturesque painting that hangs on your living room wall.
I don’t play GM sims for fancy pictures and graphics, but man, when the game looks good, it really ups the immersion factor. The studio-type setup during the draft and office-type of layout during the season really sucks you into DDS: PB3 and makes it easy to connect with your team and individual players.
Everything is laid out well, too. There’s a lot to do in this game, and it’d be a major hassle if you had to click 10 different times to do certain tasks. Thankfully, you don’t have to. It might take you a little bit to figure out exactly what you have to do and when you have to do it, but once you get your bearings, getting where you need to go is simple.
Playing the Game
Ok, so the game looks good. How does it play?
The short answer is very well. Statistics are realistic and it feels like you’re getting a very real-world simulation of professional basketball.
The first thing I noticed is improvement in the play game screen. I thought playing your games in the second version was a little clunky, but thanks to the new gameview mode, playing your games in DDS: PB3 is much smoother. Stats, play-by-play, subs, strategy options and the court are either all on your screen or just a click away.
One thing I would like to see added is the ability to call specific plays or call for specific players to try and score. For example, for each possession, I’d like to call for the ball to be dumped into the post to Dwight Howard, or simply select Kobe Bryant if I’d like the offense run through him on a possession.
It wouldn’t always have to work out as I call it, but I think that option would make the user feel like they have more control over the game. I like to feel like I have the power to actually execute some of the strategies that form in my head.
You do have some control over what your team does in-game (defensive sets, offensive sets, subs, etc.), but it could be a little more specific.
Want to try and trade Michael Beasley for a first-round draft pick? Not going to happen. The AI is strong and difficult to trick.
When simming games, sometimes I question why certain players shot so often or don’t shoot enough. Having a play-by-play log for each game would help simmers better understand the why and how of each contest. But you’re not completely powerless in what your players do, either.
If you choose to control your team as a coach in addition to being a GM, you can set your philosophies to favor fast breaks, jump shots, zone defenses, crash boards, etc. You can also run certain types of offenses.
If you think Derrick Rose is shooting too many 3s, you can call him and tell him to stop shooting so many 3s and drive more. He might even listen to you.
Navigating the NBA’s financial system can get a little tedious, but the game offers the option for a simplified system if you don’t want to deal with the ins and outs of Bird rights and the luxury tax.
Play-by-Play and In-Game View
Basketball is a simple game. You take a ball, you shoot it in a hoop, you run down the court and try to prevent your opponent from doing the same. However, there are all kinds of intricacies that take the simplicity of the game itself and make it much more challenging.
DDS: PB3 captures this. The game feels really simple from a basketball-sense, but forces you to think beyond just finding five guys who are good at putting a ball in a hoop.
I feel like I have the most success in DDS: PB3 when I either a) develop an overall philosophy and acquire players that match it, or b) change my philosophy to match my players. You can’t just cobble together five guys with overall ratings about 3.5 out of 5 and think you’ll win.
Ratings matter, and not just the overall rating. If you find yourself only looking at the overall rating, you’re going to get burned. You need to build a team with players that complement each other in order to be successful.
A strategy that I use is trying to always win the points in the paint battle every game. That means I favor shot blockers and strong defenders in the front court and a point guard and/or small forward who likes to drive to the hoop. I supplement this with a 3-pointing shooting specialist off the bench and a defensive specialist.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, putting a ball in a hoop sounds simple, too. But it’s not.
Final Word DDS: PB3 is the best professional basketball GM sim I’ve played and likely will only get better when Gorski starts releasing season disks that incorporate the full history of basketball.
Realism, immersion, easy-to-navigate and easy-on-the-eyes screens and menus, stats, and challenging AI, it’s all here.
It’d be nice to have a little more control over the in-game action and some additional data to pore over after each game. More options for customization would also probably attract more players. Those faults are hardly deal breakers, though.
Basketball GM sims might not ever reach the popularity of baseball sims, but who cares? It’s pointless to compare the two sports, anyway.
Whether you're watching games play out live or simming straight through, the stats are realistic, strategy adjustments matter and the action is easy to follow. More in-game control and a play-by-play log would be useful.
Customization You have a few options for finances and world setup, and it's easy to change things like team names and logos, but if you're looking to completely wipe everything clean and create a basketball universe from scratch, you won't be able to.
This game never gets old. There are always new challenges to undertake and the beautiful look of the game mean you won't get bored. The replayability of this game will likely go closer to 10 as more season disks are released.
Online GM Games did not have the opportunity to play the game online, but judging from the game's forums, online features seem to work well.
Presentation The game looks amazing. The draft coverage, menu layouts, customizable logos and courts, stats and everything else that goes into the presentation really immerses you into the game.
Review of GM Hockey Legacy 2012 A somewhat more cartoon-like take on the coolest sport on earth. November 5th, 2012
It's November, and that means that (most) years, my nights would be filled up by flipping through various hockey games, checking box scores and fiddling around with whatever fantasy line-up I've put together for myself. Of course, the NHL's lockout of the NHLPA and subsequent cancellation of games throughout November have left a hole in my autumn routine. In it's place has been a myriad of games, including a new wave of hockey games perhaps aiming to take advantage of the momentum that hockey had built for itself over the last few years and the lack of availability of hockey for most of the country.
We've already briefly discussed FHM, which will come out within the next few months, but being released to the public soon is a dark horse hockey simulator from French-Canadian developer Jean-Francois Cabana. GM Hockey Legacy is a lighter, more stream lined and fun-oriented text-based simulation engine of hockey for the consumer looking to get their hockey fix. While this game won't stand up to the rigid stability and demands of say Football Manager or Out of the Park, that isn't it's purpose: instead, its built to be a fun, simply and somewhat more cartoon-like take on the coolest sport on earth.
After installing the game (which comes with a separate and somewhat amusing audio file), you're prompted to start a new game or continue with a previous game. The menu overlays are simple and efficient here, and that is a trend that continues throughout the user experience.
After setting up a new game (in which you can choose your name, attributes, starting point, team and so on), you go through a myriad of pre-season necessities such as a player draft (featuring up-to-date 2012 draftees), signing coaches to any vacancies and other standard fare. Most of these menus require your attention to complete -- and because they are an early necessity, may frustrate some players who wish to click through their rosters and look around before making any franchise-altering decisions. But for the most part, management after the first few screens is very open ended.
After the initial stages of setting up your game are complete, you're presented with a newspaper overlay as your main screen, from which you can read recent developments around the league and manage your team/league from various drop-down charts.
The graphics and drop-down charts are different than most modern sports sims on the market, resembling something more from the turn-of-the-century or straight out of a Super Nintendo. Whether or not this is good or bad will basically depend on your preference. The player 'photos' are cartoon-like images that may-or-may-not resemble the actual player, and the newspaper overlay actually reminds me of the old overlay you'd see in the post game in Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball.
Personally, I like the overlays and graphics because they engross you in a bit of a different world, but people who want Sidney Crosby to look like himself on every screen may have trouble finding the ultra-realism from the vanilla version of the game.
Pierre McGui.. I mean MacLeish shares his update
Where the realism does come into play, however, is the game's stats and simulation engine, which does a fine job of representing hockey as we know it to be. After running through months and months of games, the stats engine holds up pretty well, even when accounting for wacky changes and the whims of a "general manager" who might not know what he's doing.
There is very little 'gameplay' in terms of making decisions in the actual games. You simply select from some pre-game options, including lines, line-up, strategy and so on, and then click through a series of "Continue" prompts as the game stops in between periods and highlights. As long as you're not looking to watch a game like in Football Manager or be able to make multiple in-game decisions like in Out of the Park, the management and simulation experience in GM Hockey Legacy is strong.
There is an entire list of Team management options, as well as things I've never seen before in a hockey sim. The World Championships and Olympics are represented, you can look through stats from a variety of different screens, the team management and GM options are nicely separated and so on. There's even some option called "BigDeal Ramon corner' under the newspaper which might have something to do with prospects or maybe not -- I'm still not sure.
Overall, GM Hockey Legacy is a game that is going to greatly satisfy some and disappoint others, and the numbers for each side will basically be dependent on how many people are looking for a realistic simulation engine that really works, but may not necessarily be very pretty to look at or flashy in its presentation. If you're looking for something that is kind of a cross over between a text sim and a console game, this is not for you. If you're looking for something that has a lot of different simulation and scenario options and, for what it does, just works, then give this one a try.
Total score out of 10
Game has a very realistic statistical engine, but lacks flexibility with in-game changes.
Customization Game includes a separate database editor with install. In-game customization is limited.
The realistic simulation engine could make things somewhat predictable over multiple simulations, however the tightness of the simulation itself allows you to go through nearly endless scenarios.
Online Few interactive options may lead those who like deep online experiences to stray away, but the games browser-based stats display could provide for some creative possibilities with online leagues.
Presentation Interesting nostaglic graphics display, and a separate sound set-up that may turn off more casual gamers. Fairly par for the course with games of this scope/scale.