Adam at Strat-O-Matic and I emailed back and forth a few times and at some point, I was offered a code in order to try out Strat-O-Matic Baseball 2016 (SOM16). To be clear: I received a free code in exchange for a review. My review is unbiased and is based on my own personal experience and may not reflect the experience, quality, etc of anyone else.
After downloading and installing the game (it is roughly 960MB download), I was asked to input the game code. Easy enough. I was then greeted by a screen that has all kinds of menus. I referred to the instruction PDF to try and figure out what to do next. So, it appeared I needed to install rosters. I clicked the League menu and selected Install Rosters.
I was given a code for "2015 Baseball Season Roster." That specific name was *NOT* in the list of rosters. I had no idea what to do. So, I clicked "2015 Deluxe Season Rosters *PHC*" and that didn't seem to do anything, so I clicked a few other 2015 rosters. Nothing seemed to be happening. Each time, I clicked "Install" and was warned about overwriting current data or something, but I was not presented with a code entry field. Honestly, I don't even remember how I got the entry field. When it popped up, though, I pasted my roster code from my account. It seemed to work.
I then clicked FILE > NEW UNSCHEDULED, figuring this would create a game tantamount to an exhibition game. I was then asked to enter the Hi-Res Stadium Code (which I had as well). After that, I chose two teams to play each other, opting for the computer to do most of the work. I was then greeted with what looked like a photograph of PNC Park:
The image above does **NOT** do the game justice. I mean, I know the image above looks good. But, when you see the shot in-game...whoa. I've been to PNC Park. This was like being back there again (though I had MUCH better seats when I went - HA!).
The game itself lets you click on players, menus, etc to make changes to the game itself (ex: crowd noises), to players (Ex: shift defense, sub in player, etc), and other options that allow the game-player to get into the minutiae of running a simulated baseball game. I opted for the big "SWING AWAY" button to get things rolling.
The brown box in the bottom center is where the game unfolds. A play-by-play text rendering of on-field antics scrolls by, pausing after each play (though you can change that, if you wish). The field is full of various in-game animations as things play out.
Under the "SWING AWAY" box, there are nine little boxes that let you set up for a steal, hold a runner, shift defense, intentional walk, hit-and-run, bunt, and more. It was fun playing with the different options - which are greyed out if not available for the current field situation. My attempt for Chisenhall to steal home did not go well.
After an inning or so, I went back to the main menu and played with league settings (in which you can create your own fictitious league, if you want) and ultimately chose to play the next scheduled game. The games are set to AutoPlay by default, but you can jump in to manually play any of the games (before they start).
I also played with "Social Media." This needs work. First of all, setting up the connection to, say, Facebook, was not intuitive at all. I typed some info in the text box, and clicked the Facebook icon. I was asked to login to my account. I messed up my password, and the login box closed but with no error, no message, nothing. I tried again. This time, I put in the correct info and the window closed - again with no confirmation, no message, nothing. I clicked the icon again and was greeted with a screen that said something like "Proceed as David." I clicked OK and the window closed. Click the FB icon and the screen said - "Your post was successfully completed." or something like that. I checked my FB page - nothing. I checked the SOM FB page. Nothing. I have no idea where my Facebook post went, but I can't find it anywhere.
The looks like it will be great fun once I get into it and figure out how it all works. And, that, in my opinion, is the problem. A newcomer to this game would most likely dismiss it long before they had a chance to explore the intricacies. That's unfortunate. The complex, convoluted menu system is enough to scare away newbies. Frankly, it looks like a baseball stat-loving computer programmer made the game. It lacks the user friendliness that something as complex as a baseball simulation of this depth and caliber needs to welcome first-time (or long-between version) users. And, the whole social media thing needs to be worked on.
I will play this again during the season, possibly tying the game play into some giveaway or something. I just hope I remember how to get around in there.