My favorite, the last few years, is Out of the Park Baseball and they have just come out with a new version, Out of the Park 12. I was a very happy blogger when I got an email from the nice folks that make OOTP Baseball asking if I wanted a review copy of the new release. Why yes I do.
Out of the Park is a baseball simulation game. If you want the experience of being a GM/manager of a major league team and don't want to go through the trouble of working your way up from a team's mail room and earning the job, this is about the best you can do.
In OOTP 12 you deal with almost everything a real GM has to. You deal with he amateur draft, sign free agents, make trades, stock your minor league system, watch players option years, the rule 5 draft, injuries, waiver wire, owner's expectations, batting order, pitching rotations, budgets, scouting reports and dozens of other things. About the only thing you don't have to worry about is having idiot bloggers second guess your every move.
I downloaded the game yesterday and, of course, inserted myself as GM/Manager of the Jays. You can play as just GM, set up the batting orders against lefty and righty pitchers and simulate the games, but I like to play the games so I can decide to bunt (yeah right, I'm going to bunt), steal, hit and run, bring in relievers and all make all the rest of the in game moves myself.
The game starts you out 2 days before the start of the 2011 season. That's kind of minor piss off for me, as all the decent free agents have been signed and you are kind of limited as to what you can do to improve your team. Imagine how thrilled I was to have Jayson Nix as the default 3B and very few free agents of value to replace him. As in real life, my sim Jays had several players on the DL to start the season. Frank Francisco, Octavio Dotel, Brandon Morrow and Dustin McGowan are on the major league DL and a couple of dozen guys were on the minor league DL. The game has almost the full Jays minor league system, the only Jay minor league team missing was out Dominican Summer League team. Yes, Brett Lawrie is in Vegas. His defense is rated pretty bad, so I'm giving him some time in the minors to, hopefully, improve.
My first moves where to offer contracts to Troy Glaus (yeah I know he'd never sign with the Jays again, in real life, but he as the only ok free agent 3B left, and he didn't seem against signing with me) and Bengie Molina, as well as to a couple of players that would sign a minor league contract with the promise to release them if they aren't called to the majors by May 30. I figured some depth might be a good thing. As in real life, you offer a contract and the player takes a few days to think on it.
I 'shopped' Jayson Nix and Jose Molina. There are several ways to try to trade a player, one is shop, which is basically announce to the other teams (all computer managed) that you want to trade the player and they offer back what they would be willing to give up for him. I got b level prospects for each.
I've played 9 games, my Jays are 6-3 (playing a game with 1 pitch at bats takes about 10 to 15 minutes). I know we won't continue to win at that rate. My goal is, like Alex, is to add prospects as best I can and get the team together that I think will be able to contend in the future.
You don't have to play it my way. There are several different ways you can play the game. You can play a 'Historical Game' starting any year you like, from 1871 to 2010. I think I'm going to play as the Expos, starting in 1981, the 'Blue Monday' year. It might be fun to start as the 1927 Yankees too. Or what ever team and era interests you the most.
You can also sign up for 'online' leagues, if you would rather not play against computer opponents. Or you can make a custom league. If you wanted to play with a balance schedule or move the Jays out of the AL East or put an MLB team in, say, Calgary, Alberta, you can. Or you could start out by putting all the players in a draft pool.
It isn't a reflexes game, you don't swing a bat or make the pitches or anything like that. There is little for graphics. Text tells you what happens each play. No game pad and no visuals of a player sliding into second.
The game keeps track of a ton of starts for you, including things like WAR or wOBA numbers and ZR for fielding.
There are some changes to this version of the game. A slightly improved look, improved in game AI, improved trade AI, changed player contract negotiations: you can offer signing bonus, vested option years, buyouts and performance bonuses. They've changed how injuries work, now it can take a few game days to diagnose an injury, where, in older versions you were told the length of an injury as soon as it happen, which isn't very realistic. With the new way, it takes a couple of days before you know if the player has to go on the DL or not. Unless it is like a broken leg or something, then you know right away. Players can even have career ending injuries.
I really like the game. It costs $39.99 US and I think it is well worth it. If you want to see some screen captures, learn more about the game or even order the it, go take a look at their site.