Video Games

Video Games: Anticipated action titles enliven typically sleepy spring gaming season

“Dark Souls III” comes out April 12.
“Dark Souls III” comes out April 12. FromSoftware

The birds and the bees may be frolicking in blooming flower patches this spring, but inside cats who prefer video games will be – well, killing things.

Hyped games smacked out of the prized holiday release period by delays will mix with the handful of annual spring franchises to give gamers an unusually active February, March and April. Coincidentally, most of these titles revolve around beating, maiming or killing things. Better keep the younger children out of the video game aisle until the summertime.

I typically refer to these months as gaming’s annual Dark Age. Here are some titles that may bring us light.

“Street Fighter V” Feb. 16

The premier fighting game franchise is back with a proper sequel. That doesn’t happen often – I was not yet born when the first installment dropped in 1987. It will be a popular game for recreational players, but a new “Street Fighter” will be a massive shake-up for professional gaming/e-sports, where the franchise is a major player. We know exactly what to expect, and the yearlong stream of buildup videos and reveals appears to show that “Street Fighter V” will give it to us.

“Far Cry Primal” Feb. 23

I’ve spent the last six months hyping this game, so I will keep it brief. I am most looking forward to the no-HUD mode. It’s the perfect title for this option. You think a caveman had a mini-map or a health bar? Nope. It’s just us, our trusty rocks and the world.

“The Division” March 8

I recently combed through my column archives to find mention of “The Division” for developer/publisher Ubisoft, which asks for such evidence when requesting a review copy. I was really excited about it when I saw a reveal video at E3 in 2014.

Constant delays made me a little fuzzy, but the rush of gaming press coverage has piqued my interest again. The investigation of a society-killing virus in open-world New York City was always a thrilling concept, and now we’re finally getting some meaty visual evidence to bring back the excitement.

Anything short of blockbuster status from a big-budget game riding two years of decaying hype will be looked on as a failure.

“Hitman” March 11

The adjustment mid-development from an all-inclusive game to episodic installments concerns me, but I am looking forward to a new “Hitman” game. It’s always been an underrated franchise. I find it vastly superior to similar violent stealth franchises like “Assassin’s Creed” or “Splinter Cell.”

As long as developer IO Interactive sticks to the release schedule and keeps the bugs to a minimum, I’ll be pleased.

“EA Sports UFC 2” March 15

I saw a lot of potential in last year’s installment, but complicated controls and a few bugs held it back. The glitches should be a pretty easy fix, but can developer EA Canada simplify the controls without taking away the complexity that hardcore MMA fighters crave? We’ll see.

“MLB 16: The Show” March 29

One of my favorite annual franchises appears to be getting better. A video released by developers at Sony San Diego previewed a few changes that will make a huge difference, most notably the ability to play Road to the Show (the franchise’s career mode) games in succession without having to return to the home screen.

When you play five or six games per session, this adds up. Little things like that are what great franchises like “MLB: The Show” do so well: Make subtle changes rather than break a winning formula.

“Quantum Break” April 5

I am not a big fan of time manipulation as a gaming mechanic or plot tool, but “Quantum Break” looks decent. I like that developer Remedy Entertainment seems focused on story – even employing a theoretical physicist to help with the script.

We’ll see if the constant “are you telling me I can dodge bullets” moments have any substance behind them.

“Dark Souls III” April 12

Oh good, another game designed only to frustrate players.

I don’t get the appeal of the FromSoftware games (“Dark Souls, “Bloodborne”), but I understand that I am in the minority. I’m sure thousands of you will enjoy screaming obscenities at your TV screens when this monster comes out.

“Star Fox Zero” April 22

This is a huge release for Nintendo. The Wii U console is at death’s door. The strength of the veteran company has always been its classic exclusive franchises, and “Star Fox” is next up.

I think the funky controller was tailor-made for driving/flying games, so this could be an impossible-to-miss release for Wii U owners – all 48 of them.

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