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TCB Game Review: Out of the Park Baseball 12

I have a confession that you may already know. I'm a bit of a video game nut. Since I got my first Nintendo oh so many years ago, I've been hooked. As I've gotten older, my tastes have trended more towards sports games and simulations, which is why I've played and liked the Out of the Park series before.

It's a very immersive and customizeable game in past years, but that has nothing on what this new version of the game has in store. I've been able to put it through the paces lately and have a quick review coming after the jump.

OOTP lets you create a world all your own. Whether you're going for realism, for a historical replay or to create your own fantasy league with orcs or knights of the round table, you've got the ability here. You can even create multiple leagues in the same world, setting up a major league system and then the Japanese Professional League or something else. Did you ever wonder if the Federal League could still compete? Now you can see what happens.

You play as the general manager of a team and can hire coaches, managers, trainers and scouts. You can set your strategy preferences and sign players. You can rename players, give them nicknames and change their ratings. Heck, you can even chance how ratings are displayed, from the default five-star system to a more scouting-friendly 20-80 scale.

You can edit the skills of the coaches and scouts, too, so it's not just the players who can be customized. Team logos can be added, colors can be changed and, most impressively, you can edit the disposition of the owner.

For my test run, I created a world and took over the Astros. First order of business? Shopping Carlos Lee. Can you believe the only deal I was offered was a straight-up trade of Ryan Howard for Lee? Needless to say, I did it, even with Howard's large contract, then flipping him to Kansas City for Mike Moustakas and Danny Duffy.

I also traded Wandy to the Yankees for Jesus Montero, who I promptly turned into a first baseman. His bat is much, much better than Brett Wallace's and he was quickly hitting 35 home runs within a few years.

Editing the minor leagues, I may have gone a little too far. Jose Altuve hit somewhere around .400 for his first few years in the majors and George Springer won a Gold Glove in his first four seasons in the big leagues. But, it's not a game if you don't have fun, right?

The best thing about OOTP is it gives you a ton of potential to tell the story of your league. There are random rule changes, league awards, the ability to choose your own all-stars and much more. They induct players into the Hall of Fame and update player cards with all sorts of awards. In the seasons I played, there were two significant rule changes in about six years. The first was that players who were designated for assignment no longer had the right to refuse a minor league assignment. The second was extending the number of days a player sits in limbo after being DFA'ed. These were totally random and were pretty cool additions to things.

All in all, this was exactly the kind of game I remembered it to be. I liked the international scouting, where you can select all sorts of different countries and will randomly have prospects emailed to you from there. The amateur draft provided some diamonds in the rough and the player progression in the minors worked well enough to promote guys in a couple of seasons.

I know I'm a different kind of gamer, but the first night I had this, I played for about four hours easily before I finally forced myself to sleep. It's that addicting and well worth checking out.