Think back a few years, kids were walking around with their flip phones, their discman's and their Gameboy advance or whatever the cool handheld was back in the day. Now you get all of these devices rolled into one on the iPhone. For many American's they can not leave the house without their smartphone. Whether it be because they want to listen to music, talk to their friends or now play iOOTP - thanks to Out of the Park developments makers of the critically acclaimed Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP).
Let me start by saying that however great the game is, I played the 1.0 version of the game for about a week before I decided to load'er up at work only to find that I had a corrupt save and my game had been lost. Unfortunately because of this I have not been able to test all 3 game options.
When you load up iOOTP you get a cartoony looking screen with pretty much the option to start a new game or go to their website. The options seem to just branch off from there. After you make the easy decision to start a new game you are faced with the option of Major League which comes out of the box with 2011 starting rosters and MLB teams. Fictional league, which offers you 3 different setups and the option for a fantasy draft to start. Or for you history buffs the ability to recreate one of three historical seasons (1923, 65 and 2004). I jumped into the Majors so I could manage the Jays.
If you are new to the series you might be a little bit overwhelmed when you first load it up. There are so many options and managerial duties to be done right from the get go. You will have enough to keep you plenty busy before you even start your first game. For those who have been around the OOTP franchise for years, it might be a little empty for you. For example in iOOTP all your minor leagues (AAA, AA, A, Rookie) are rolled into one, but remember we are talking a $5 App here! There are plenty of options when managing your team. You wanna rename the Nationals the "Natinals" - it's all there for you. Outside of the customization options, you also have your typical Trade Player option with the classic "Make this work now option". Like any sports game in history if you fiddle around with different combinations you will be able to rip off the AI pretty easily, but for the most part the trade logic is very well done. This screen also keeps track of all your stats, hall of fame and past champions. If you spend a few minutes looking around you will find everything you need to be successful pretty easily.
So you set those line ups, or if you are lazy you let the computer set 'em for you and jump into the game. The in-game interface is excellent. The field looks amazing on the nice iPhone screen, the game gives you a great layout of your team and ratings. The play by play is very well done, I just wish I did not have to tap every time to close it. One of the first things I noticed while pitching was all the manager options I needed were there; Infield in, shift, guard lines, outfield in, pitch out you name it is all there. Quickly retired the side to get to the real fun stuff, the offense! Step up to the plate and again all the options I wanted were there. Also like a true portable game you have the option to quick sim through a game, inning or half inning. You can also close it and finish it later, although I recommend finishing and saving yourself. I have yet to pitch that no hitter, but you will be looking like a crazy person cheering at your phone as you go through the innings getting closer and closer. iOOTP really hit a home run with the in-game managing aspect as it is nearly the same as what we have come to love in OOTP.
One of the great things about iOOTP is that it is great for pretty much anytime, except maybe when you are driving! If you only have a few minutes on a break at work you can get in a quick game or two, scout some of your upcoming draft class and be back at work. Or, it is even deep enough that if you are at home you can actually play this game while bored in bed. If you are into the offseason activities like free agency and drafting (although draft is midseason in MLB) you can sim full seasons in only a few minutes.
While the game plays great right out of the box, I have had some issues. Most notably was the corrupted save file in which I lost hours upon hours of play. I know I mentioned that already and it has been fixed, but the lost time was frustrating. The other big issue seems to be player development. Although part of this could be that the manager sucks, but I have guys dropping from 5 stars to 2 stars in the matter of months. I will try and bring a guy along through the minors, a couple bad weeks and he loses all his potential.
The big selling point on this game is the price point. For $5 you will get more than a lot of console games give you for $60 (See MLB 2k Series). When you think about how solid the product is and how little it costs the only reason to not own this game is "I don't own an iDevice". Which brings me to my only other issue with the game. Its not a big issue since I am an iPhone owner, but the fact that the game is only available to the iPhone/iPad when there are so many touch screen devices on the market doing just as well as the "iProducts". The game could really take off being ported to devices like Android, Windows phones or Blackberry phones.
There is currently no online to speak of and that can be expected from a first release of a mobile device game. It would be really neat if future versions of iOOTP could be linked up with the desktop version to allow you to browse your online league in "Lite version" of OOTP online.
In rating this game Price point was a factor in the overall score. If you own a iPod device that is capable of running iOOTP it is a must buy. For $5 you will not likely find too many games in the app store that are this deep.
Total score out of 10
Excellent! Plays almost as deep as the desktop version with all the fixins you need as a major league manager.
Customization There isn't a whole lot of customization, you can change some team names around, and you are pretty limited in your fictional league options. Still very good for a mobile device.
Game is deep and will keep you busy in your first sim for a long time, once you finish that first game you have plenty options to start new. Fictional leagues will also ensure that your never playing the same game twice.
Online Noting really in terms of online in this version.
Presentation At first your worried, with the cartoon look, but when you get into game the field looks crisp, much like the desktop version. Menu's are nice and player pages look great.