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Out Of The Park Baseball 2013 Makes AL Move Easy

I got a review copy of Out of the Park Baseball for a second straight season, but I didn't get much of a chance to play it during the preseason. I had a weekend where I delved in pretty heavily, but like, kids, etc. got in the way until I got a chance to try out the completed release this week.

So, I felt like it was a good time to review this year's offering and talk about why I like this darn game so much. If you're not a computer simulation fan, well, read on and see if you might like this gem.

In my first simulation, the Astros did not move to the AL West at the end of the 2012 season. I picked a high school shortstop with the first overall pick, since the ratings showed he was going to be an 80 player hitting, with power and great defense.

That didn't work out well. He did make the majors, but never really hit like I anticipated and went the way of the free agent pretty quickly thereafter.

On the other hand, I had fantastic luck hitting the free agent market. I picked up Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke on the free agent market and plugged Jonathan Singleton into the starting lineup for 2013. That was enough to turn the team around and had the Astros contending. After that, Houston won like six of the next nine titles and I had a great time.

Not very realistic, but I didn't want it to be. That's what's great about this game. It can be exactly what you want it to be. If you want it to be a historical simulator, it will import players from any era and let you simulate to your heart's desire. If you want to create an entirely fictional world, it'll do that too. If you want to create a rival league and run that, you can.

Editing players is just as easy as in year's past, but what I liked about this version is you could pretty easily edit managers and front office types. That let me upgrade my scouting and field staff after a while, but since it brought in former players, I was able to put Cal Ripken in my system, see him work his way up from Low A ball and take over the franchise for three or four World Series titles.

Pretty cool.

This time around, the game got better. As I mentioned in the title, the AL move happens automatically, and made things much more difficult for my burgeoning dynasty. The only player I really edited this time was Jose Altuve, making him as awesome as his destiny demands. Oh, and I picked up Bryce Harper in a totally bogus trade, because, c'mon. It's Bryce Harper.

Even adding guys like Stephen Strasburg and Zach Lee as free agents didn't help the rotation, so I'm just now getting to the playoffs routinely in my sixth season. However, the depth of the game comes out in all the little touches in the final version.

My favorite is that at one point in the offseason, Jose Altuve sent me an email wanting to start a charity. I could either give him a donation, tell him to go away or start the charity. I chose the latter and, boom, every offseason, we get an update on his charitable activity.

For people who devote time to a text-based simulation, it's these little touches that make the game cool. I like seeing that Justin Smoak started a charity golf tournament or that Kevin Youkilis hurt himself sneezing at home. It keeps the game interesting for me.

Which is why I keep coming back to this game over and over again. This time, it was when I was feeling under the weather and needed something to do. Maybe I'll start a new dynasty in a month when I'm bored at work or have a Saturday without the wife and kid around. Who knows?

The main point is that you should check out the game if you haven't, and catch up on it if you have in the past, but haven't this year. I'm a fan.