Appleton: Shake off winter doldrums, these video games coming soon

The Fresno BeeFebruary 7, 2014 

I hate February.

Many people may not know this, but video games have an offseason. Millions of gamers are currently suffering through it, and I am one of them.

Like most retail items, video game releases peak right before Christmas and then die off in January, February and March. These months are checkered with the stragglers that couldn't make the Christmas push, as well as a few smaller games that didn't feel the pressure from a large studio to ship by the holidays.

If you still are catching up after the blitz of fantastic games in 2013, then you are golden right now. This is the perfect time to finish up "The Last of Us" or "Grand Theft Auto V." I can think of 10 or more other games you could spend your rainy days (if we get more rainy days) playing through. Get on it!

However, if you eagerly smashed through those games upon their release, then I would like to welcome you to the Dark Ages. I have been an avid console gamer for 18 years now, and this is by far the most boring offseason I have ever had.

But there's hope.

Within the next few months, there are a handful of titles that will get us through the spring and into the fast and furious summer and fall seasons.

Here are a few games that border on must-have status:

'Titanfall' Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC

I can't wait for "Titanfall."

The screenshots look amazing, and I think the world is ready for a large-budget, heavy-hitting Mech (giant fighting robot) game. I have nothing but fond memories of the old "MechAssault" games on the original Xbox, so hopefully this game can take up their mantle.

Players will choose a giant robot from a large roster and use it to battle others on large, interactive maps. These robots, called Titans, each have a unique skill set; some are massive missile-launching behemoths, while others are small and rely on stealth and long-range guns.

The strategy of team composition and who will do what and where should make this a solid pickup.

"Titanfall" will be released on the PC and Xbox One on March 11. The Xbox 360 version has been delayed until March 26.

'South Park: The Stick of Truth' Xbox 360, PS3, PC

I was 9 years old when I watched the first broadcast of a cartoon about four offensive young boys living in a quiet mountain town. It has been 16 years, and I still love "South Park."

That's why I was so thrilled when I heard about the latest "South Park" video game: "The Stick of Truth."

Unlike the previous "South Park" games, "The Stick of Truth" will be a 2-D adventure written and designed by the fathers of the show, Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Players will control the new kid in what is essentially a long, interactive "South Park" episode.

The first few game-play videos look amazing. The animation is perfect, and it basically looks like they took the textbook role-playing game formula and wove "South Park" characters, lore and humor into it. I can't wait.

"South Park: The Stick of Truth" will be released on March 4.

'Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze' Wii U

This may be blasphemous in the church of Nintendo, but I have always believed that the "Donkey Kong" games were a lot more fun than the "Mario" titles.

The latest incarnation of the beloved gorilla franchise is set to hit the Wii U later this month. It promises all of the usual "Donkey Kong" action, as well as a new playable character in the popular Cranky Kong.

I don't think this game will be a world-beater, but it should be a nostalgic trip for adults and an exciting adventure for kids. The game will be fun regardless of age.

"Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze" will be released on Feb. 21.

'The Elder Scrolls Online' PC, PS4, Xbox One

When I first tested this game back in November, I was absolutely shocked at how terrible it was.

I am a huge "Elder Scrolls" fan, and I thought the transition from single-player role-playing powerhouse to massively multi-player online title would be an easy one, as it was for the "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" franchise.

The game was much better when I tested it in January. I anticipate that the February test will be even better.

The game certainly has unlimited potential. Most of it looks great, but they are struggling to put a distinctly "Elder Scrolls" stamp on an overpopulated genre.

Still, the die-hard MMO fans like myself almost certainly will have to buy this game and see what it's about.

"The Elder Scrolls Online" will be released for the PC on April 4. The console versions will come out sometime in June.

 

Rory E.H. Appleton is the associate editor of corruptedcartridge.com and a journalism student at Fresno State. You can reach him at rory@corruptedcartridge.com or @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter.

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