Out of the Park Developments have swung for the fences with their latest baseball management sim, but have they hit a home run?

My introduction to baseball came in the mid-Eighties, when I played Imagine's World Series Baseball on my battered old ZX Spectrum. The game (as you would expect) was extremely basic and made a few glaring errors - cheerleaders dancing across the field for one - but it kept me entertained for hours during my formative years and sparked an interest in the sport which continues to this day.

Fast forward to the present day and baseball video games are now an altogether different beast. The basic stick figures have been replaced with realistic and incredibly detailed player models and photo realistic ball parks, while excellent play-by-play commentary puts you at the heart of the experience, especially on the king of baseball action games MLB: The Show on PS3.

But while I enjoy virtually staring down a big league pitcher as he goes into his wind-up and delivering a towering home run on the back of a well-timed button press, I also like to enjoy my baseball at a more sedate pace.

Enter Out of the Park 14 - a deep, captivating and thoroughly rewarding sports management sim which just gets better every year.

As the general manager of your chosen team - and the range of teams to choose from is truly staggering - you are free to tinker with line-ups, tweak your pitching rotation, send players down to the minor leagues, call rookies into your franchise, instigate trades, scour the free agent market and send your scouts across the globe to unearth fresh new talent for your ball club.

While this seems a lot to take in - and there are a plethora of options available to the player at any one time - it doesn't mean the game is impenetrable. Indeed, I allowed a friend who knew next to nothing about baseball to play and within an hour, he had picked up the basics and had a grasp on the bigger picture. And that's part of the beauty of the Out of the Park series - it can be as deep or as shallow as you want. You can even sim an entire season if you like, or, like me, get right under the skin and take control of every aspect of your chosen franchise.

As you would expect, the current baseball season is catered for but Out of the Park 14 goes much further by allowing the player to jump into any team and season from 1871 to the present day. Fancy taking control of Babe Ruth and the 1927 New York Yankees - widely regarded as the greatest baseball team in history? Well you can. Or maybe you want to take control of The Big Red Machine - the name given to the dominant Cincinnati Reds of the 1970s. You can even create your own fantasy league, complete with your own team names if you wish and take everything online.

Every day you receive in-game emails detailing the strengths and weaknesses of forthcoming opponents, while other league news is flashed up for you to take in, drawing you even further into this world of facts and figures. Play for long stretches, and the lines between fact and fiction become blurred - I now regularly get stats mixed up between my players and their real-life counterparts across the Pond. Embarrassing, I know, but it just shows how Out of the Park 14 can take hold if you let it all sink in.

When the on-field action starts, the player can either control the action pitch-by-pitch or let the computer do the work for you or it's possible to have a mixture of the two. However, it really does enhance the experience if you take your time and study the field as the game evolves and change tactics on the fly.

While Out of the Park 14 won't wow you with its visuals, it's wise never to judge a book by its cover and the old idiom is perfectly illustrated here. The screen may well be full of stats and text but the layouts are clean and well laid out, while navigating the menus is hassle free and user friendly. It's worth noting that while all player names are exact, their mug shots are not, nor are team logos or stadiums. However, all is not lost thanks to a wonderful and bustling community who have made these elements available for budding GMs to delve into straight from the menu screen, which serves to give the game an authentic feel.

While I appreciate not everyone will share my passion for America's Pastime, the latest entry in this long-running baseball management sim is definitely worth a look if you're a serious sports nut. However, if you want to get a feel for the game on the go, there is also an iOS version which has been tailor made for playing on the go. It might lack some of the features from the main PC version, but either on iPhone or iPad, the experience is just as addictive and well thought out. Tinkering with team line-ups and my starting pitching rotation has become a regular - and essential - part of my daily commute to and from work. In fact, the app has a permanent place on my iPhone's home screen and it definitely won't be going anywhere soon.

The Out of the Park series really is something special and while baseball fans will get more out of the experience than a baseball rookie, there is more than enough here to tempt the average sports fan.

Out of the Park 14 is available on Windows, Mac and Linux

Out of the Park 13 is available on iOS