Baseball season is here, which means baseball video games are here. However, some baseball fans, like myself, are more interested in the idea of managing the games, and running the teams, than we are in the actual gameplay. To help scratch that itch, there’s iOOTP 2011, based on the popular PC baseball simulation series Out of the Park Baseball.

Do not expect the latest in high-quality 3D graphics from iOOTP – this is an entirely menu-based affair. You don’t actually control the pitchers and batters, you just manage them. You can tell them to take pitches, steal bases, or bunt when on offense, and tell your pitcher to throw over to a base, pitch around a batter, or issue an intentional walk. Off the field, you set your team’s lineups, depth charts, can send players to and from the minor leagues, offer them contract extension, and complete other transactions with them. You can take about as much control over the game as you want, or as little – if you want to manage every plate appearance of every single game, and set up every single lineup and transaction, you can do that. You could also let the computer set your lineups and depth charts, and simulate even up to an entire week of games at a time.

So what could possibly be the appeal of a game like this? Well, it’s realism. The thing I don’t like about actual baseball games is that I feel like I lose a lot of realism when I play them – I could turn Ted Williams into a wild hacker if I wanted to. And on the mound, I could make even Rick Ankiel able to find the strike zone. It feels weird, so it’s nice to let the computer take over, and enjoy the parts of games that I enjoy most – situational management, and letting the players decide what happens, instead of being in direct and unrealistic control of them. Having gotten to play a preview build of the game, there is still plenty of potential entertainment value to be had from a game that is largely just menu-based.

iOOTP is not out yet, although they are already promising enhancements beyond the initial release. The game should launch with updated Opening Day rosters, and there is talk of adding Retina Display and iPad support down the road. The game comes out of the box with the 2011 roster, and will come with 3 historical leagues, with additional leagues available for $0.99 each. The game will be submitted soon to the App Store, so you can soon manage your own favorite team just the way you want.

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