Power Up: March’s Must-Haves

March is a time for madness, both in college basketball and video games.

From a role-playing game powerhouse to a bank heist shooter, the second half of the month is rich with exhilarating games that have novel-like storytelling, beginning on St. Patrick’s Day, when two of the four Power Up picks are available to grab.

While MLB’s Opening Day is not until April 5, the last day of March marks the opening day for baseball gamers who are hungry to dive into the latest game’s rosters and features. The same day marks the culmination of waiting for the next entry in the quintessential stealth action game franchise.

As baseball spring training begins and college basketball excitingly concludes, there are a number of titles from top franchises releasing in March that can keep gamers occupied until the snow finally melts.

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD (Xbox One, PS4) – March 17

            After much demand from franchise fans, one of the most critically acclaimed Final Fantasy entries is coming to America four years after the original PlayStation Portable release.

Final Fantasy Type-0 was originally made for the PlayStation Portable in Japan and never released in the U.S. in 2011, ultimately leaving Americans to play the import version in Japanese, which still captured the hearts and minds of many.

Come St. Patty’s Day, Final Fantasy lovers will get to enjoy the tale translated and enhanced for Xbox One and PS4 with heavy graphical improvements and more difficulty levels to make up for the exclusion of the PSP’s original multiplayer.

Type-0 has a diverse world and storyline that follows Class Zero, 14 young warriors each with their own unique skills and weapons to harness in the real-time combat system reminiscent to Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core.

They are on a quest to save the world in typical Final Fantasy fashion: fighting, looting, character progression, well-placed dialogue, puzzles to solve and beautiful cutscenes to tie it all together.

While it lacks the traditional turn-based combat of old storied entries like FF VII or X, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD serves up an intriguing, challenging and considerable dose of role-playing action on current-generation systems.

Battlefield: Hardline (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC) – March 17

            Battlefield: Hardline, the latest entry from the unequivocal leader in destructible modern shooters, is bringing the multiplayer scale and strategy of massive warzones that Battlefield is known for to the urban street war between cops and robbers.

            The Battlefield franchise first branched from its multiplayer conquest-focused roots when they released the Bad Company entries in 2008 and 2010, following a hilarious rag-tag quartet of army soldiers. Hardline focuses the campaign on detectives in Miami, taking influence from popular TV cop dramas like CSI.

Multiplayer will seem familiar, yet Hardline implements a new progression system that lends itself to the game’s theme through players accumulating money in matches that they can use to purchase anything at any time, similar to Call Of Duty: Black Ops.

There are also new game modes like Hotwire and Heist, which focuses on pulling off an actual robbery, requiring communication and coordination. Lucky players, myself included, got a taste of the exciting bank robbing action and different gadgets like zip lines available to players during the open beta in January on all consoles.

Even though it’s not the next, big Battlefield, Hardline is a quality shooter that adds a lot of new police and criminal flavor to the successful multiplayer recipe, enough that it feels new and enticing to any kind of franchise fan.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360) – March 31

            Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the first full-fledged release in the series since 2010’s Peace Walker released for PSP. While many super-successful game franchises release yearly titles, Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima has never rushed his incredible story of nuclear warfare and tactical espionage.

            The Metal Gear Solid series has remained the benchmark for stealth action games since players first traveled to Shadow Moses in 1998 to stop REX and nuclear destruction; revolutionizing and reinventing the genre it seems with every subsequent release since through incredible storytelling and gripping gameplay.

For the first time since the series began, David Hayter will not voice the protagonist Snake, whose gritty accent immortalized the character. Instead, Snake is voiced by an equal badass, Kiefer Sutherland, most famous for playing superhero spy Jack Bauer in the hit TV series 24.

Metal Gear Solid fans got a taste of the new environment and gameplay early last year when Konami released Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, a short demo-like game that introduced new sneaking movements, mission selection and the prologue to the greater story of The Phantom Pain.

Metal Gear Solid V is open-world across multiple locations like Africa and Afghanistan, which is a first for the franchise, and utilizes a base-building system similar to what was in Peace Walker where players can customize their headquarters and send their recruits on missions.

Every time a Metal Gear Solid game released, it sent a graphical and technical tremor, however big or small, that reverberated through the video game industry, and The Phantom Pain looks to be the biggest entry in the series yet.

MLB The Show 15 (PS4, PS3, PS Vita) – March 31

The only console baseball game left standing is as strong as ever, and is improving their already beautiful simulation. The Show has always been a showstopper with its incredible visuals and sharp, responsive gameplay, highlighting the spontaneity and electricity of a live baseball game.

This year, The Show is adding licensed gear to the mix, sporting gloves and bats from Rawlings, Louisville Slugger, Wilson, Mizuno and cleats from Under Armour, Nike and others. The enhanced physics, stadium lighting day/night cycle and dugout celebrations are making this edition the most authentic baseball experience yet.

MLB The Show 15 may be the only baseball game out there, but its awesome player progression and career modes make it an enticing buy for strategists and role-players of any kind.